Pineapple is native to Central and South America; it contains enzymes and the antioxidant vitamins A and C. It is also high in manganese, a mineral that is critical to development of strong bones and connective tissue, and bomelain which has anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to providing a healthy treat, pineapple has a long history in folk medicine and natural beauty treatments. It’s a source of alpha-hydroxy acid, an ingredient in wrinkle creams that helps with exfoliation, the process of sloughing off old skin.
The pineapple is a member of the bromeliad family. Flowers of the pineapple start at the bottom and work their way upward. Each flower produces a fruit; the pineapple we eat is comprised of many such fruits all pressed together in one structure. Each small fruit can be identified by an “eye,” the rough spiny marking on the pineapple’s surface. Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves and fibrous yellow flesh. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture.
Following are some of the health benefits of pineapple:
- This fruit acts like a digestive as well as a natural anti-inflammatory fruit. It contains a group of sulfur that helps in digestion.
- Bromelainis present in fresh pineapples which helps in reducing the swelling in inflammatory conditions like gout, arthritis, sore throat and acute sinusitis. The recovery time for surgeries and injuries is also reduced.
- Enzymes in pineapple are used for treating rheumatoid arthritis successfully.
- It also speeds up tissue repair associated with general surgery, diabetic ulcers and injuries.
- This fruit also reduces blood clotting and aids in removing plaque from the arterial walls.
- People suffering from angina can consume pineapple because it enhances blood circulation in narrowed arteries.
- Pineapples are also used to cure throat infections and bronchitis.
- This fruit is very efficient in treating anemia and arteriosclerosis.
- Also,it is an excellent cerebral toner.
- Pineapple aids in building healthy bones.
- As pineapple is rich in vitamin C, they are good for oral health. It also prevents periodontal disease and gingivitis.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
Look for pineapples that are heavy for their size. While larger pineapples will have a greater proportion of edible flesh, there is usually no difference in quality between a small and large size pineapple. Pineapples should be free of soft spots, bruises and darkened “eyes,” all of which may indicate that the pineapple is past its prime. Pineapple stops ripening as soon as it is picked, so choose fruit with a fragrant sweet smell at the stem end. Avoid pineapple that smells musty, sour or fermented.
For most antioxidants benefits, choose fully ripened pineapple.
Ripe, uncut pineapple can be left at room temperature for one or two days before serving. While this process will not make the fruit any sweeter, it will help it to become softer and juicier. Yet, as they are very perishable, you should still watch them closely during this period to ensure that they do not spoil. After two days, if still not ready to consume the pineapple, wrap it in a brown bag and store it in the refrigerator where it will keep for a maximum of three to five days depending on the ripeness of the fruit.
Pineapple that has been cut up should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It will stay fresher and retain more taste and juiciness if you also place some liquid, preferably some juice from the pineapple, in the container. Although pineapple can be frozen, this process greatly affects its flavor.
TIPS FOR PREPARING
Pineapple can be cut and peeled in a variety of ways. The first step is always to remove the crown and the base of the fruit with a knife.
To peel the pineapple, place it base side down and carefully slice off the skin, carving out any remaining “eyes” with the tip of your knife. Or cut the pineapple into quarters, remove the core if desired, make slices into the quarters cutting from the flesh towards the rind, and then use your knife to separate the fruit from the rind. Once the rind is removed, cut the pineapple into the desired shape and size.
You can also use pineapple corers that are available in kitchen supply stores. While they provide a quick and convenient method for peeling and coring pineapples, they often result in a good amount of wasted fruit since they often cannot be adjusted for different fruit size. Similarly, some markets offer devices that will peel and core the pineapple you purchase; but once again, this process may waste a lot of fruit.
HOW TO ENJOY
We get the most benefit from pineapple when eaten raw.
- It is a wonderful addition to fruit salads.
- Pineapple smoothies are delicious.
- Juicing is another way to enjoy its healthy flavor and benefits.
Pineapples take about 18 months to grow. A pineapple is ripe if one of its top leaves can easily be pulled out.