Pining for Pineapples

Pineapples (Ananas comosus) come from tropical plants in the Bromeliaceae family. The fruit actually consists of coalesced berries.

Pineapples originally evolved in the inland areas of what is now Brazil and Paraguay.  South American Guarani Indians cultivated pineapples for food. They called them nanã, meaning “excellent fruit.” The Guaranis and other tribes explored, raided, and traded across a vast expanse of tropical waterways on rafts and in dugout canoes.

By 1493, pineapples were growing on the island of Guadeloupe, where Christopher Columbus discovered them. He called them piñas de Indes meaning “pines of the Indians,” for their resemblance to pine cones.

Ferdinand Magellan found pineapples in Brazil in 1519, and the Spanish may have introduced them to the Big Island of Hawai’i in 1527. From there, it likely spread to Asia. By 1555, pineapples were being exported to England. The term pineapple (or pinappel) appeared in English print around 1664.

When George Washington tasted pineapple in 1751 in Barbados, he declared it his favorite tropical fruit. Although pineapples thrived in Florida, they were still a rarity for most Americans.

Captain James Cook later introduced pineapples to Hawai’i around 1770. Commercial cultivation began there in the 1880s when steamships made transporting the fruit feasible.

In 1903, James Drummond Dole began canning pineapple, making it easily accessible worldwide. Pineapple cultivation was abandoned in the Florida Keys because of soil depletion and the 1906 hurricane. In 1911, Henry Ginaca, an engineer, successfully invented a machine that could remove the outer shell, inner core, and both ends of 100 pineapples, within a minute. Dole bought this machine, which helped his business to grow tremendously. The Dole Hawaiian Pineapple Company was a booming business by 1921, making pineapple Hawaii’s largest crop and industry. In 1922, James Dole bought the island of Lanai, where he cultivated the largest pineapple plantation in the world. There, he grew 75 percent of the total world supply of pineapples, in its peak years. By 1950, one-third of world’s pineapple production and 60 percent of the world’s canned pineapple was produced in Hawai

Today, Hawai’i produces only 10% of the world’s pineapple crops. Other countries contributing to the pineapple industry include Mexico, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Thailand, Costa Rica, and China.

Pineapple can:

  1. Fight inflammation. Bromelain is a phytochemical in pineapples that fights excessive inflammation, excessive blood coagulation, and certain types of tumor growth. Bromelain has been used to treat a number of medical problems, including heart disease, arthritis, and upper respiratory infections. It increases the effectiveness of some antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs.
  2. Aid digestion.  Bromelain contains a group of protein-digesting enzymes called cysteine proteinases. Healthcare practitioners have reported improved digestion in their patients with an increase in pineapple in their diets.
  3. Fight free radicals. Vitamin C is your body’s primary water-soluble antioxidant, protecting all your bodily fluids against free radicals that attack and damage your cells. Free radicals promote plaque build-up in your arteries that leads to atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, cause airway spasms that lead to asthma attacks, damage colon cells so they become cancerous, and contribute to joint pain and stiffness in arthritis. Vitamin C can help prevent or reduce the severity of all of these conditions. Pineapples are also an excellent source the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential cofactor in several antioxidant enzymes, including superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced in your mitochondria (the energy factories within your cells). Ferulic acid in pineapples is a potent antioxidant that may also prevent bone degeneration and cancer, protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) damage, reduce blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, reduce hot flashes associated with menopause, and treat diabetes.
  4. Support your immune systemVitamin C is vital for the proper function of your immune system, and helps you prevent recurrent ear infections, urinary tract infections, colds, and flu. Tannic acid in pineapples is a powerful antibacterial, antimutagenic, antioxidantantitoxic, and astringent that can prevent diarrhea, and may prevent Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and diabetes.
  5. Boost your energy levels. The manganese in pineapples is also an essential cofactor in several enzymes important in energy production. Pineapples are also a good source of thiamine, a B vitamin that acts as a cofactor in enzymatic reactions crucial for producing energy. The vitamin B6  in pineapples supports a wide range of activities in your nervous system and promotes proper breakdown of sugars and starches.
  6. Provide relief for rheumatoid arthritis. The copper in pineapples can reduce some of the pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis, because it is important in a number of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant enzymes.
  7. Build strong bodies. Manganese in pineapples activates enzymes for using several key nutrients, helps synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol, and facilitates protein and carbohydrate metabolism and formation of bone.  In addition, copper plays an important role in the activity of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme needed for the cross-linking of collagen and elastin—the ground substances that provide structure, strength, and elasticity in blood vessels, bones, and joints. Hemoglobin synthesis also relies on the copper in pineapples; without it, your red blood cells cannot properly use iron.
  8. Improve your mood. Copper in pineapple plays a role in the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine, which affects your body’s biological response to stress, and is also involved in pain, cognition, mood, and emotions.
  9. Protect against macular degeneration. A study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicated that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

Nutrients in 1 cup (165 grams) of Fresh Pineapple Chunks

Nutrient Amount DV
vitamin C 78.87 mg 105%
manganese 1.53 mg 77%
copper 0.18 mg 20%
vitamin B6 0.18 mg 11%
thiamine 0.13 mg 11%
carbohydrates 21.65 g 10%
fiber 2.31 g 9%
folate 29.70 µg 7%
pantothenic Acid 0.35 mg 7%
Calories 82.50 5%
potassium 179.85 mg 5%
niacin 0.82 mg 5%
magnesium 19.8 mg 5%
riboflavin 0.05 mg 4%
iron 0.48 mg 3%
calcium 9.07 mg 2%
phosphorous 9.07 mg 2%
choline 9.07 mg 2%
protein 0.89 g 2%
biotin 0.50 µg 2%
vitamin A 95.70 IU 1%
fat 0.20 g <1%

Select pineapples that are heavy for their size. Larger pineapples have a greater proportion of edible flesh, but otherwise, there is usually no difference in quality between a small pineapple and large pineapple. Pineapples should be free of soft spots, bruises, and darkened “eyes,” all of which may indicate that the pineapple is past its prime. Pineapples stop ripening as soon as they are picked, so choose fruit with a fragrant sweet smell at the stem end. Avoid pineapples that smell musty, sour, or fermented.

You can leave pineapples at room temperature for one or two days before serving. While this won’t make the fruit sweeter, it will help it to become softer and more juicy. Pineapples are highly perishable, so watch them closely when they’re not refrigerated to ensure that they don’t spoil. After two days, if you are still not ready to eat the pineapple, you should store it in the refrigerator, where it will keep for a maximum of three to five days.

Store cut pineapple in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It will stay fresher and retain more flavor and juiciness if you also place some liquid, preferably some juice from the pineapple, in the container. You can freeze pineapple, although freezing greatly affects its flavor.

To prepare a pineapple, first 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. You can also cut the pineapple into quarters, remove the core if you prefer, make slices into the quarters cutting from the center towards the rind, and then use your knife to separate the slice from the rind. After you remove the rind, cut the pineapple into the shape and size you prefer.

Some serving ideas:

  • Combine diced pineapple with grated ginger, fennel, and cashews and serve on a bed of romaine lettuce.
  • Mix diced pineapple and chile peppers for an easy salsa.
  • Mix sliced kiwifruit, orange, and pineapple together to make chutney.
  • Drizzle maple syrup on pineapple slices and broil until brown. Serve plain or with coconut yogurt.
  • Add pineapple to fruit salads, especially those containing other tropical fruits such as papaya, kiwi, and mango.
  • Add pineapples to fruit or vegetable salads with apricots, tomatolettuce, seedless grapesstrawberries, peaches, apples, currants, pears, etc.
  • To balance the extreme tartness of fresh cranberries, combine them with pineapple.
  • For an easy-to-make holiday salad, place 2 cups fresh cranberries in your food processor along with 1/2 cup of pineapple chunks, a quartered skinned orange, a sweet apple, and a handful or two of walnuts or pecans. Blend till well mixed but still chunky. Transfer to a large bowl and serve.
  • Blend frozen pineapples, bananas, cocoa powder, and coconut milk in a food processor for a tropical smoothie.

This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this blog to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

This blog is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. Although we provide nutritional information, the information on this blog is for informational purposes only. No information offered by or through this blog shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care. None of the information on this blog should be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. Consult with a health care provider before taking any product or using any information on this blog. Please discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

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