It’s sweet, tangy, and part apple, part... pine? Who knows what’s up with the name, but one thing is for sure, pineapple is a very super superfood. This exotic (and prickly) fruit has its fair share of benefits, including boosting the immune system. Even better? There are about a million healthy recipes that have pineapple.
A Pineapple a Day — Why It’s Super
Fun fact: The pineapple got its name in English because of its resemblance to a pinecone, but in many Europen countries, it’s called some derivative of annas which comes from the Paraguayan word nana, meaning "exquisite fruit." (And we agree!) Pineapple is native to South and Central America and is known there for its anti-inflammatory benefits Dietary supplementation with fresh pineapple juice decreases inflammation and colonic neoplasia in IL-10-deficient mice with colitis. Hale L.P., Chichlowski M., Trinh C.T., Department of Pathology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, 2010 Dec;16(12):2012-21.. Bromelain, an enzyme found in the juice and stem of pineapples, has been used medicinally since ancient times to help reduce inflammation, lessen hay fever symptoms, slow blood clotting, and even enhance the absorption of antibiotics Dietary supplementation with fresh pineapple juice decreases inflammation and colonic neoplasia in IL-10-deficient mice with colitis. Hale L.P., Chichlowski M., Trinh C.T., Department of Pathology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, 2010 Dec;16(12):2012-21. Bromelain, the enzyme complex of pineapple (Ananas comosus) and its clinical application. An update. Taussig S.J., Batkin S., Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, School of Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 1988 Feb-Mar;22(2):191-203 Bromelain: biochemistry, pharmacology and medical use., Maurer H,R. Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Institute of Pharmacy, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 2001 Aug;58(9):1234-45.. More than just anti-inflammation, researchers suggest bromelain can be used to control the growth of tumors and malignant cells Bromelain, the enzyme complex of pineapple (Ananas comosus) and its clinical application. An update. Taussig S.J., Batkin S., Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, School of Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 1988 Feb-Mar;22(2):191-203 Bromelain's activity and potential as an anti-cancer agent: Current evidence and perspectives. Chobotova K., Vernallis A.B., University of Oxford, UK. Cancer Letters, 2010 Apr 28;290(2):148-56..
If that’s not awesome enough, pineapple is packed with good fiber to help digestion, vitamin C to boost that immune system, and one cup of diced pineapple is only 77 calories — not bad! But beware — that same cup will run you a little over 16 grams of sugar. That’s almost half the daily recommendation of sugar in just one snack (albeit a delicious one). Because of its sugar value, try to not eat the entire pineapple in one sitting – or if you do, keep the rest of your sugar consumption in check during the day.
Dabble in Pineapple? — Your Action Plan
When picking out a pineapple at the grocery store, look for one that has a slight fragrance (don’t worry about getting that nose real close) and is just a tiny bit soft to the touch. Keep in mind that all its health and nutritional benefits far outweigh its tough (and frankly, prickly) outer layer!
Ready to master the art of peeling, trimming, and coring a pineapple? You will need a sharp knife, cutting board, and pineapple (of course!). Lay the pineapple down on its side and remove the stalk. While you’re at it, slice off about ¾ an inch at the top and bottom. Turn it upright and start to slice the skin off in strips (sounds weird to call it “skin” doesn’t it?). Now it should look like this cool multi-surfaced yummy-smelling fruit. Put the pineapple back on its side and use the knife to divvy it up into slices — but be careful, that sucker gets slippery. Cut out the little circle of core in the middle of each slice and voila — yummy pineapple slices await you. Did absolutely none of that make sense? Check out this step-by-step guide (I’m a visual learner, too — it’s cool)!
Apparently pineapple tastes delicious with almost everything, so try throwing it in your next meal! Recipes range from Ginger Pineapple Fried Rice, to a Pina Colada Yogurt Parfait. Another fun fact: Pineapple makes a wonderful addition to a salsa (check out this recipe with pork).
Our favorite pineapple recipes from around the web:
Breakfast: Pineapple Breakfast Sandwich via Whole Foods Market
Post-Workout Snack: Pineapple Protein Shake via Martha Stewart
Lunch: Pineapple and Bean Soft Tacos via Taste of Home
Happy Hour: Midori Colada via Yummly
Dinner: Grilled Pork Loin with Fire-Roasted Pineapple Salsa via Epicurious
Recipe: Grilled Pineapple with Greek Yogurt Sauce and Pistachios
This recipe is a great option for breakfast, brunch, or dessert, and is sure to satisfy even the strongest of sweet tooths' without breaking the sugar bank!
What You'll Need:
1 pineapple, sliced lengthwise into 8 wedges *
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
2-4 tablespoons milk (of your choice)
3/4 cup roasted pistachios (unsalted), chopped
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
What to Do:
- Heat grill (or grill pan) to medium-high heat. Grease grill grates with oil.
- Place pineapple wedges on grill grates, and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until nice grill marks appear.
- While the pineapple is cooking, combine Greek yogurt, honey, and milk until it reaches the consistency you prefer.
- To serve, set 2 pineapple wedes on a plate, and drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios, and enjoy!
*Note: Many supermarkets sell pineapples already cut into such wedges, if you wish to cut out a step!
What's your favorite way to use this superfood? Share with us in the comments below!