Now I knew pineapple was good for you, being a fruit and all – but I had no idea HOW good. Most of its health benefits come from an enzyme called bromelain and its high vitamin C content.
Bromelain helps to break down the amino acids in proteins, making it a great aid to digestion – and it is said to be helpful in preventing nausea caused by morning sickness or motion sickness.
But what I find most interesting about bromelain are the claims that it is a natural anti-inflammatory, helpful in reducing swelling of the thyroid gland (goiter) and relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Additionally, bromelain is effective in treating bruises and sprains by reducing swelling, tenderness and pain – and preventing blood clot formation. The article I read wasn’t clear, but I still think you actually EAT IT and don’t apply it topically. But it would make a much more pleasant poultice than something made of garlic, no?
(Note: The bromelain content of pineapple is destroyed by the canning process – so eat your pineapple fresh for the most benefit. And taste, really.)
So all of those things by themselves make me want to run out and eat a pineapple, but we haven’t even touched on the vitamin C.
It’s pretty widely know that vitamin C is an antioxidant and, as such, it protects the body from free radical damage and boosts the immune system. Vitamin C helps build and repair bodily tissue and promotes wound healing. Nice double whammy for wound healing, along with the bromelain, right?
And here’s something I did not know about vitamin C: The body uses vitamin C to help metabolize fats and cholesterol, absorb iron, and synthesize amino acids and collagen. (Collagen is one of the primary building blocks of skin, cartilage and bones.)
And I think we all know that vitamin C is helpful in fighting off colds and infections – or at least in decreasing their severity. No word yet on its effect on the Swine Flu.
And why oh why did I not know sooner that, because of all that vitamin C, pineapples are good for your oral health as well. Vitamin C increases the ability of connective tissue to repair itself, and also increases the body's ability to fight invading bacteria and other toxins that contribute to gum disease. Periodontal disease, which destroys gum tissue and underlying jaw bones, has been linked to heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Now I know all of this is making you want to run right out and buy a pineapple or two. It just so happens that pineapples are at their peak right now (March through July) so it’s not such a bad idea.
And you can go to all the trouble of learning how to cut a pineapple (cut off both ends, cut out the core, scrape off the thorny stuff) or, seriously, you can just go the Mrs. Jelly Belly QVC-addicted route and buy yourself a stainless steel pineapple slicer. Or the plastic one, even.
Now that you bought all that fresh pineapple - and it's all cut up and ready to eat - how about a smoothie? Or a lovely Pina Colada (which doesn’t contain fresh pineapple but, really, why not?).
Tropical Fruit Smoothie
1 frozen banana
1 cup fresh pineapple
3/4 cup soymilk
1 tablespoon honey or sugar (optional)
Blend all of the above ingredients in a food processor or blender for 1-2 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Makes 2 servings.
4 oz. fresh pineapple juice 3 oz. rum 2 oz. coconut cream 2 cups crushed ice
Pour all of the ingredients into a blender. Blend briefly at high speed. Strain into a glass and serve. Garnish with a slice of fresh pineapple and a cherry.