Pineapple nutrition facts
One of the most prized and popular fruits, pineapple or "ananas" has an interesting history to narrate. The ananas plant is actually native to Paraguay in South America. It spread by the local Indians up through South and Central America and to the West Indies. Later, it was brought to Spain when Columbus discovered Americas’ in 1493, from where; it spread to rest of the world by the sailors (just like tomatoes) who carried it for protection from scurvy wherever they went.
Scientifically, it is known as "Ananas comosus" and belongs to the family of Bromeliaceae, of the genus; Ananas.
Pineapple is a tropical, perennial, drought-tolerant plant that grows up to 5-8 ft in height and spreads around about three to four ft. It is essentially a short, stout stem with a rosette of waxy long, needle-tipped leaves.
The plant bears several long, oval to cylindrical fruits during each season from March until June.
The fruit is described as compound (multiple) fruit that develops from many small fruits fused together around the central core. Its pulp is juicy and fleshy with the stem serving as a supporting fibrous core. The outer rough, tough, scaly rind may be dark green, yellow, orange-yellow or reddish when the fruit is ripe. Internal juicy flesh may range from creamy white to yellow and has a mix of sweet and tart taste with rich flavor. Each fruit measures in size up to 12 inches long and weighs 1 to 8 pounds or more.
Health benefits of Pineapple fruit
* Fresh pineapple is low in calories. Nonetheless, ii is a storehouse of several unique health promoting compounds, minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
* 100 g fruit provides just about 50 calories equivalent to that of apples. Its flesh contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, it is rich source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber like pectin.
* Pineapple fruit contains a proteolytic enzyme bromelain that digests food by breaking down protein. Bromelain also has anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting and anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that consumption of pineapple regularly helps fight against arthritis, indigestion and worm infestation.
* Fresh pineapple is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin; vitamin C. 100 g fruit contains 47.8 or 80% of this vitamin. Vitamin C is required for the collagen synthesis in the body. Collagen is the main structural protein in the body required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body protect from scurvy; develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity) and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
* It also contains small amount Vitamin A (provides 58 IU per 100 g) and beta-carotene levels. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes, skin and essential for vision. Studies have suggested that consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps the human body to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
* In addition, this fruit is rich in B-complex group of vitamins like folates, thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like copper, manganese and potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is a helpful cofactor for red blood cell synthesis. Manganese is a co-factor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger.
Selection and storage
Pineapple or ananas season lasts from March until June when fresh fruits available in the markets at their best. In the store, choose that are heavy for their size. While larger fruits will have a greater proportion of edible flesh, there is usually no difference in quality between a small and large-size pineapple.
Choose fruit that should be free of soft spots, mold, bruises and darkened "eyes," all of which may indicate that the fruit is past its prime. Some people judge freshness, ripeness and quality by tapping a finger against the side of the fruit. A good, ripe pineapple has a dull, solid sound while immaturity and poor quality are indicated by a hollow thud. It stops ripening as soon as it is picked; therefore, choose a fruit with a fragrant sweet smell at the stem end. Avoid those that smell musty, sour or fermented.
Ripe ones perish quickly if left at room temperature. Since they chill sensitive and cannot be stored in the refrigerator for long periods, better use as early as possible. However, if not readily eaten you may place the ripe fruit in the refrigerator for 1-2 days, for later use.
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