Pineapple is a draining, digestive and dietetic exotic fruit , refreshing and pleasant, it has many healthy properties and is suitable for many uses in the kitchen.
Delicious to eat natural, it is perfect for juices and juices , or to enrich the salad. It is an excellent ally for those who want to lose weight not only because of the few calories it provides but also because it stimulates the sense of satiety .
It contains many vitamins and minerals , is a natural anti-inflammatory and helps fight cellulite and water retention.
Pineapple: what it is
Ananas comosus (L.), known by all as ananas or pineapples , is an evergreen plant belonging to the bromeliad family that grows in tropical countries and is about 30/40 centimeters high .
From the central stem lanceolate leaves develop , with the serrated edge, rather long and narrow to form a rosette. The flowers , with three petals, are blue and each with its own sepal that becomes fleshy and gives life to the fruit: a large oval pine cone with a yellow pulp, whose weight can reach up to 5 kg . The pineapple plant produces only one fruit every 18 months.
The pineapple is covered with a brown leathery peel , formed by polygonal plates, merged together and called ” eyes “.
The fruit inside has a very juicy , sweet and slightly acidic pulp, pleasant to the taste and with an intense and characteristic fragrance. Surrounded by the pulp, in the center there is a fibrous stalk, hard and therefore unpleasant for consumption.
The plant prefers a warm, temperate climate, bears direct sun but is not very resistant to temperatures below 15 ° C. For its ornamental qualities, it is also cultivated to be displayed in the apartment.
The story of the exotic fruit
Pineapple is a fruit that originates in South America, between Paraguay and Brazil.
The pineapple crops date back to the era of pre-Columbian civilizations . The Mayans first, as well as the Aztecs and the Incas then, knew and produced pineapples for their livelihood. During the explorations in 1493, Christopher Columbus knew this fruit in Guadalupe. The locals called it “nana”, the Portuguese by assonance called it “ananaz”, from which pineapple in Italian, French and German. The Spaniards called it “piña” because of its resemblance to a pine cone, hence the English name “pine apple”. In Europe the plant arrived very late, only in the eighteenth century, enriching mainly French and English greenhouse cultivations.
It is one of the best known fruits and has a very special record: it is the most canned in the world!
Pineapple is a fruit rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients that our body needs: it has a high content of vitamins (C, B1, B6) and contains mineral salts such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. It consists largely of water and fiber : for this reason it is low in calories (only 40 per 100 grams of product), therefore perfect for those who follow a weight loss diet.
Pineapple, health benefits
Pineapple contains eight phenolic compounds , excellent health allies, as they show antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity capable of delaying diseases related to aging.
But the substances that make fresh pineapple an extremely interesting fruit are two enzymes: peroxidase and bromelain . These enzymes, in association with phenolic compounds, have beneficial effects on the health of our body by interfering with the growth of malignant cells, inhibiting platelet aggregation and coagulation and performing a powerful anti-inflammatory and mucolytic action . Arteriosclerosis, blood clotting and unstable pressure are some of the ailments that this fruit can help with. Let’s see in detail the qualities and properties of the pineapple .
It reduces pain
It reduces pain and helps wound healing by acting as an anticoagulant. This is thanks to the content of bromelain, phenolic compounds and vitamin C, all effective anti-inflammatories.
“Packs” or lotions based on active ingredients extracted from the pineapple fruit or plant help to treat acne and other inflammatory skin conditions. Also in this case, bromelain, with its anti-inflammatory function, increases its curative efficacy.
Stimulates collagen synthesis
It makes the skin more elastic, vital and soft. The stimulation of collagen production, associated with anti-inflammatory effects and nutrients such as amino acids and vitamin C, ensure fast repair of the cells of our face and damaged tissues. That’s why pineapple-based skin preparations are effective anti-aging.
It is anti-obesity
Pineapple has made its way into the scientific literature showing its beneficial effects in the treatment of obesity and dyslipidemia.
The high amount of bromelain plays a fundamental role in lipolysis thus decreasing the severity of cardiovascular syndromes associated with high levels of fat in the blood, as well as those of other serious diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis related to a state of obesity.
The ability to bind fats , important for determining the antiobesity function of a food, is very high in pineapple. The administration of pineapple juice, without modification in the consumption of food, significantly reduced the weight gain induced by a diet rich in fats.
It also contains a good amount of phenolic compounds and vitamin C: their antioxidant action counteracts the complications deriving from the accumulation of fat during the pathology of obesity.
The bromelain present in pineapple has shown an effect on skin carcinogenesis by hindering its proliferation. Also useful in the prevention of breast cancer and in some types of leukemia . The fresh pineapple juice contains, together with bromelain, peroxidase and this improves antitumor activity compared to laboratory bromelain alone.
Bromelain has a strong diuretic power , which makes pineapple an excellent remedy against the first symptoms of cellulite. Furthermore, this enzyme has anti-inflammatory, anti-edematous and anticoagulant properties, increasing tissue oxygenation and circulation in the lower limbs.
Calms the cough
Bromelain has been shown to have a significant action in dissolving bronchial secretion , with the advantage of being a food constituent and, therefore, a safe substance also for use by children.
A study evaluated the efficacy of honey in combination with pineapple in controlling night cough and sleep quality in children with upper respiratory tract infections. The best results indicate the combination of pineapple and honey as a turning point in the symptomatic treatment of cough.
Adjust the intestines
It is a rich source of soluble and insoluble fiber. This means that eating pineapples in the right quantities can regulate the digestive system, providing an excellent remedy for episodes of constipation, diarrhea and colitis
Cases of pineapple allergy are not uncommon. Intolerance reactions have also been observed in people allergic to other substances such as latex, pollen and grasses. In these cases it is therefore advisable to consume the pineapple with caution.
Those suffering from active peptic ulcers or who are being treated with anticoagulants or blood thinners may be at risk of bleeding due to the antiplatelet activity of the pineapple.
Its use is also not recommended for hypertensive subjects , as it can cause tachycardia.
Interactions could occur between the pineapple extract and some drugs : it is therefore advisable to consult your doctor before consuming the pineapple in conjunction with the intake of certain medicines.
Among the most common side effects we find diarrhea and stomach pain, more rarely vomiting, menstrual cycle disorders and irritation of the mucous membranes.
extract dried pineapple is however not recommended in pregnancy although there are not many studies about its safety. It is however better to avoid using it to avoid possible consequences to the uterus.
How to consume it
Pineapple can be eaten fresh or used as an ingredient in the creation of various recipes, mainly sweets, but also some salty or sweet and sour.
It is thirst-quenching in the form of a centrifuged or juice. For fresh consumption it must be stored at temperatures below 8 ° C.
How to cut pineapple
One of the most frequent problems in the consumption of fresh pineapple is the cutting of the fruit : a process that appears complicated, considering that the best part of the pineapple is that close to the peel and it would be better not to waste it with a clumsy cut. Here are two effective methods.
- Place the fruit horizontally on a cutting board and remove the ends with a large and sharp knife keeping 1 cm from the crown (the apical part) and from the stem of the fruit (basal part)
- brings the fruit back to the vertical position and eliminates the peel by cutting it from top to bottom, taking care to remove only the surface layer, following the shape of the pineapple
- it is better to leave the “eyes”, that is the dark points of the fruit: in this way the best part of the pulp is not lost during the vertical cut
- with the tip of a knife, follow the diagonal pattern of the “eyes” proceeding with a superficial V-shaped incision
- at the end of this operation, you can slice the pineapple.
- Place the fruit horizontally on a cutting board and remove the ends with a large and sharp knife, keeping yourself 1 cm from the crown (the apical part) and from the stem of the fruit (basal part)
- bring the fruit back to vertical position and cut it into 4 segments of equal size
- it eliminates the hardest part at the top of the segments corresponding to the core, without however removing it completely, and separates the pulp from the peel with a horizontal cut as close as possible to the peel
- cut each pineapple wedge into small pieces.
The varieties of pineapple
There are many varieties of pineapples, which are grouped into four categories called Cayenne, Spanish, Queen and Abacaxi.
- The Cayenne group regards the varieties best known in markets, such as the smooth Cayenne which has a large fruit with a clear and very juicy pulp (Smooth Cayenne).
- Spanish Group : the most prized and widespread is the medium-sized, rounded shape ” Red Spanish ” variety . This is characterized by a very thick and orange skin from which it takes its name. The pulp has a sour taste and is very fibrous.
- The Queen group varieties are characterized by rather small fruits and by an intense and particularly sweet, fragrant and aromatic yellow pulp.
- The Abacaxi group includes varieties that are not particularly widespread in markets, typical of South America. They have a rather thin skin and a particularly juicy and sweet pulp .
How to choose pineapple
In many countries there are no pineapple crops. Those on the market are all imported from tropical countries . The fruits undergo very long journeys and to preserve their integrity they are harvested earlier than the natural ripening.
It is therefore important to prefer the fruits transported by air , which arrive from the country of production to the sales counter in just 48 hours . The fruits that come from Costa Rica are the sweetest (thanks to the innovative cultivation techniques used), while those of African origin have a slightly harsher taste and a more crunchy pulp.
How to recognize a ripe pineapple
When buying pineapples it is advisable to avoid unripe ones, which usually have a greyish-green skin . It is better to move towards those with yellow or orange peel and nuanced especially at the base.
The pineapple must then have a delicate scent and be firm to the touch, giving way only slightly to pressure.
If the fruit has a brown or reddish color , with a soft and spongy consistency , yielding to the touch and a too intense smell it means that it is too ripe .
A trick to understand if a pineapple is at the right degree of ripeness is to test the yield of the leaves of the tuft. If they don’t come off easily it means that the pineapple is unripe. Otherwise, if they come off easily, it means that the fruit is ripe.
Pineapple and beauty
The nutritional richness of pineapple is also useful in cosmetics .
The complex of anti-inflammatory substances performs a healthy action for the skin , hydrating and regenerating it. Here’s how to use this exotic fruit for our beauty:
- the fresh pineapple juice, obtained from centrifugation, can be used as a tonic for the skin and for cleaning the face, as well as as an exfoliant thanks to the acids of which the fruit is composed. A weekly treatment is sufficient by soaking a cotton ball and passing it on the skin for a few minutes. At the end just rinse with warm water . Of course, in case of allergies or sensitive skin, it is recommended to seek advice from the dermatologist before application.
- It can also be used for compresses against cellulite . It is no coincidence that the pineapple extract is inserted in the formulation of anti-cellulite cosmetic products as it promotes the drainage of liquids .
- In addition to a topical use, there are food supplements on the market that contain pineapple stem extract: they have a diuretic action and are recommended for limb fatigue, swelling and water retention.
- Pineapple and its bromelain- based extracts are used as anti-inflammatory agents in rheumatoid arthritis , in the repair of soft tissue injuries and to counteract inflammation of the colon.
- Taken in pills, bromelain facilitates digestion and above all has an anti-inflammatory effect indicated for the treatment of edema and pain caused by inflammatory processes .
Use in the kitchen
At breakfast, a pineapple-based smoothie is an ideal energy resource. Even during the day, a juice or juice is a good remedy for breaking hunger and quenching one’s thirst.
It can also be used as an ingredient in many recipes, for example to flavor delicious salads .
You can also prepare tasty main courses , such as sweet and sour pork stew and chicken pineapple and curry.
This fruit is also excellent served as a dessert, possibly flavored with maraschino or rum.
The pineapple pulp can be prepared in portions to be frozen, then blended and obtained refreshing sorbets.