Pineapple: Good & Good for You!

Pineapple (Ananas comosus) originated in South America.  It is said to have been named by early European colonizers for its resemblance to a pine cone.  Despite its rough exterior, this tropical fruit has been a symbol of welcome and hospitality since the 17th century when American colonists braved treacherous trade routes to import pineapple from the Caribbean Islands and share it with guests.

Packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and enzymes, the pineapple is not only delicious but also linked to several health benefits such as improved digestion, immunity, and recovery from surgery, and protection against inflammation and disease.  Pineapple has been used in folk medicine since ancient times.  It is low in calories (75 per cup) and without any cholesterol, sodium or fat.

Pineapple is rich in manganese (109% DV per cup/165 g), a mineral essential to our metabolism, blood clotting, bone formation and immune response. It also contains other micronutrients such as copper, thiamine, and vitamin B6, which are essential for healthy metabolism.

One cup of pineapple chunks contains 88% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C which is essential for immune health, iron absorption, and aids in tissue growth and repair.  This cell-protecting, collagen-making vitamin may also help fight cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.

Pineapples are loaded with antioxidants that help fight oxidative stress which has been linked to chronic inflammation, weakened immune health, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.  Many of the antioxidants in pineapple are considered “bound antioxidants”, meaning their effects are longer-lasting.

The pineapple is the only known food source of bromelain, a group of digestive enzymes that may ease the digestion of protein, making it easier for us to digest and absorb food.  Studies have also shown this mix of enzymes to reduce inflammation and nasal swelling as well as help in the healing of wounds and burns. Studies suggest that bromelain’s anti-inflammatory power may provide pain relief for people suffering from osteoarthritis.

Pineapple is a good source of fiber (almost 10% of DV) which aids digestive health and staves off hunger.

Pineapple is easy to add to your diet.  Enjoy it on its own, in a smoothie or parfait, on a salad or pizza, grilled for a delicious dessert or as part of the main course such as this quick and easy version of sweet and sour chicken.  It takes only 20 minutes to prepare and serves 4 people.

20 Minute Light Sweet and Sour Chicken

1 Tbsp. oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

½ red pepper, sliced

1 c. pineapple, sliced

3 Tbsp. honey

3 Tbsp. rice vinegar or white vinegar

3 Tbsp. ketchup

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. chile sauce such as sambal oelek or sriracha

¼ c. pineapple juice or chicken broth

1 clove garlic, grated

1 tsp. ginger, grated

1 Tbsp. water and 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, mixed

1 tsp. sesame oil

1/4 cup green onion, sliced

 

Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the chicken and cook until cooked through, about 2-4 minutes per side.  Add the red pepper and pineapple and cook until just tender but still crisp, about 2 minutes.

Add the mixture of the honey, vinegar, ketchup, chile sauce, pineapple juice, garlic, ginger and the mixture of the water and the corn starch, toss to coat and cook until the sauce thickens, about a minute.

Remove from heat, mix in the sesame oil and serve garnished with sliced green onions.

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