Don’t let that spiny skin intimidate you. Pineapple is sweet enough to rival most candies — and it packs way more health benefits.
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Registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, talks about how this tasty tropical fruit boosts your health and how to pick one that’s fresh, flavorful and fabulous.
What makes pineapple so healthy?
Pineapple’s impressive nutrition profile makes it a healthy dessert, side dish or anytime nosh. A one-cup serving (165 grams) offers just 75 calories and 0% of your recommended daily value (DV) of cholesterol, sodium and fat.
Here are some ways eating pineapple could boost your health.
Provides plenty of nutrients
Pineapple is low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. One cup of pineapple chunks will deliver:
- Vitamin C: You’ll get one-third of your daily value of vitamin C which aids in tissue growth and repair. Vitamin C may also help fight cancer, heart disease and arthritis.
- Manganese: Pineapple has more than 100% of your daily value of this essential trace element. Manganese helps with bone formation, immune response and metabolism.
- Fiber: Nearly 10% of your daily fiber needs are in one cup of pineapple. “Fiber is necessary for a healthy gut and can help you stave off hunger,” Zumpano says.
- B vitamins: Pineapple gives you a healthy dose of several B vitamins, including thiamin, niacin, B6 and folate. These nutrients help your body process energy from the food you eat. They’re also critical to forming new red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your organs and tissues.
- Various minerals: “Pineapple contains several minerals your body needs for proper function, including copper, potassium and magnesium.
Promotes tissue healing
“Pineapple is the only food known to contain bromelain, an enzyme that helps your skin and tissues heal,” Zumpano says. “Bromelain appears to produce substances that combat in pain and swelling.”
Consuming bromelain from pineapple might also help your skin heal after surgery or injury.
“Your body needs inflammation to help fight off illnesses,” Zumpano explains, “but too much inflammation in the body, especially over long periods, can lead to conditions like cancer.” The anti-inflammatory power in bromelain can help fight inflammation and may suppress the growth of certain tumors.
Of course, eating pineapple isn’t a cancer-free guarantee. “But eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, including pineapple, is a good way to help prevent cancer and other health conditions,” Zumpano says.
Here’s another reason to make pineapple your go-to dessert: Pineapple contains a significant amount of fiber, which is associated with better digestion. It also contains bromelain, which is thought to aid digestion, though there’s not enough scientific evidence to say for certain.
Arthritis pain relief
The anti-inflammatory power of pineapple’s bromelain may provide pain relief for people with osteoarthritis. “If you have achy joints from osteoarthritis, try adding pineapple into your diet,” Zumpano says, “but don’t stop taking your medications or change your dose without talking to your doctor.”
Weight loss booster
Most weight loss experts recommend a diet rich in fruits and vegetables if you’re trying to shed pounds. But pineapple could be your diet’s BFF (best fruit friend) because its enzymes just might help with fat burning.
“The studies on pineapple as a weight-loss aid are only animal-based, so we need more evidence of this claim,” Zumpano says. “But adding some of this healthy fruit to your diet certainly couldn’t hurt.”
When your muscles work hard, they produce inflammation — leading to that inevitable soreness that can sideline you for up to three days. But popping pineapple into your post-workout smoothie might help you get back to your training regimen a little sooner.
“The anti-inflammatory power in pineapple could soothe muscles and may help them recover more quickly,” Zumpano says.
How to pick a good pineapple
Like most fruits, a ripe pineapple is sweet and juicy. But unripe fruit will deliver bland, dry or sour flavor. Unlike avocadoes, peaches and bananas, pineapple doesn’t continue to ripen after it’s picked, so leaving it out on the counter to ripen won’t help.
Choosing a good one doesn’t have to be tough. Here are a few ways to choose a juicy, sweet pineapple.
What does a good pineapple look like?
When searching for just-right pineapple ripeness, look for:
- Golden color: A bright orange pineapple is overripe and past its prime; a green one is unripe. Look for one that has a consistent golden color.
- Large eyes: Those little knots on the skin give you a clue about what’s inside. Look for larger knots, which mean the fruit had time to ripen on the tree.
Other clues to a juicy pineapple
If you want the best pineapple of the bunch, you need to move past appearances. Also check:
- Aroma: Sniff the bottom of a pineapple before purchasing it. “A good one will have a fresh, sweet smell,” Zumpano says. Avoid ones that smell funky or vinegar-like or that have no smell at all.
- Firmness: A hard pineapple probably isn’t ripe. It should have a little bit of give when you squeeze it, but make sure it’s not soft or mushy.
- Leaves: The leaves should look fresh and green, and plucking one should be easy.
- Weight: A pineapple should feel heavy for its size. “That indicates that there’s plenty of juice inside,” Zumpano says.
How to store pineapple
Once you choose that perfect pineapple, don’t wait too long to enjoy it. Improper storage could spoil your fruit. Here’s how to keep it delicious:
- On the counter: Most pineapple will be OK at room temperature on your counter for about two days. Keep it away from direct sun and sources of heat.
- In the refrigerator: Put a whole, uncut pineapple in the refrigerator. It should last about five days.
- Once it’s cut: Store freshly cut pineapple in some of its juice and place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to five days.
How to enjoy pineapple
Pineapple is a standalone snack once it’s cut into ring-shaped slices or chunks. But if you want to avoid cutting it, many grocery stores offer pre-cut pineapple. Frozen and canned pineapple are good options, too.
“Choose canned pineapple packed in its juice, not syrup,” Zumpano says. “Pineapple is sweet enough on its own, so skip the added sugar when you can.”
Easy pineapple recipes
Pineapple doesn’t have to go it alone. This fruit fits well into a variety of sweet and savory meals, too. These recipes provide some inspiration:
- Grilled pineapple with lime and mint: Fire brings out pineapple’s sweetness, so try this delicious grilled pineapple recipe.
- Caramelized pineapple with raspberries: This quick pineapple dessert has a gourmet feel to it.
- Pineapple raspberry popsicles: Get a summertime vibe any time of year with these healthy frozen treats.
- Pineapple yogurt fruit salad: Serve up this tasty alternative to standard fruit salad.
While some of pineapple’s health claims need further study, there’s no denying it’s loaded with nutrients that can boost your well-being. Slice, chunk, grill or blend it — however you choose to eat it, enjoy adding this bright, tangy fruit to your diet.