Pineapple: The Fruit With Disease-Fighting Superpowers
The History of the Pineapple
Introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus, the pineapple was an instant hit with the highest ranks of society. Because pineapples were only grown in South America at that time, they were considered an extremely rare delicacy. Only the fastest ships could deliver fresh pineapple, and even then only in ideal weather. In fact, in colonial times, a pineapple could cost as much as $8,000 in today's currency! Often associated with Hawaii, the pineapple was not actually introduced to the Hawaiian Islands until the 1770s.
Pineapples became the worldwide symbol of hospitality because they were so rare and expensive that they would only be served to the most distinguished guests. They appear frequently in sculptures, carvings, and flatware designs, particularly in the American South where they were extremely popular in the 1800s. Today, the pineapple is a pop culture phenomenon making an appearance in a variety of mediums, from music festivals to TV shows.
Fortunately, pineapples are widely available today; you can take advantage of their incredible health benefits with convenience and ease!
Pineapples Have High Amounts of Vitamin C
Just one cup of pineapple will give you more than your entire daily value of vitamin C. To put that into perspective, one cup of orange slices has around 50 mg of vitamin C. One cup of pineapple has around 430 mg of vitamin C!
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant with a variety of functions including supporting the immune system and fighting free radicals. Free radicals are atoms whose outer layer of electrons is not full. This allows them to bond with other atoms. Because they do not have their full number of electrons they are considered unstable and unstable atoms seek other atoms to bond with. This process is known as “oxidative stress.” Oxidative stress is a degenerative process and over time it amounts to the normal process of aging. However, oxidative stress is also linked to conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s. Vitamin C, and other antioxidants reduce oxidative stress by donating an electron to free radicals which makes them less reactive.
Vitamin C has also been shown to boost the metabolism of adults between 60 and 74 years old by up to 100 calories per day. That may not sound like much, but burning just 100 extra calories per day could help you lose up to 10 pounds a year! Another metabolism boosting nutrient found in pineapple is manganese, which helps to regulate blood sugar and metabolize carbohydrates.
Pineapples Have Anti-Cancer Properties
The reason pineapples may support the health of those with cancer is because of their compounds which have “selective cytotoxicity.” These compounds are able to attack only the dangerous cells while leaving the benign cells unharmed. A study showed that bromelain may be one of these powerful anti-cancer agents and may help stop existing tumors from continuing to grow. Because oxidative stress is linked to the formation of cancer, anti-oxidants, like those found in pineapples, may help protect the body against this process.
Bromelain was discovered in 1891 by chemist Vincent Marcano. Pineapple is the only known major source of bromelain, which can be extracted from both the stem and the fruit itself and is often used in supplements. There are also no major side effects connected with bromelain, but those with allergies to latex should avoid it. Though you can purchase bromelain in supplement form, doctors recommend that you get your bromelain from the fruit itself as it may be more potent when absorbed this way.
Pineapples Are a Natural Cough Suppressant and Immune System Booster
Pineapple can help regulate an overactive immune system, the cause of many allergies, and may help those with asthma or other respiratory illnesses and by improving blood flow and reducing inflammation. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, pineapple has long been believed to be beneficial to those with inflammatory auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Pineapple can even help ease the respiratory symptoms of the common cold. One study demonstrated that a mixture of pineapple juice, honey, salt, and pepper was effective in treating the symptoms of tuberculosis and eased the cough five times faster than over-the-counter cough medicine. So, next time you find yourself with a case of the sniffles, skip the orange juice and reach for a pineapple instead!
How to Get the Most Out of Your Pineapple
To get the most nutritional benefit, try to stick to fresh pineapples because canned and frozen will lack some of the water soluble vitamins like C and B. While it can be tricky to identify a ripe pineapple at the grocery store, try to find one with a slightly sweet smell. The more yellow the skin, the more ripe the pineapple is. Interestingly, pineapples ripen most quickly upside down, so prop your pineapple up on its head and leave it at room temperature for a few days to ripen it quickly.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.