When European explorers found a fruit that looked like a pine cone in South America in the 17th century, they called it a pineapple. The scaly bumps on the outside are called "eyes." Slice it open, and you'll find bright yellow flesh that's both sweet and tart.
For centuries, pineapples were so rare that only very wealthy people could afford to buy them. Some people even rented the exotic fruit to display at dinner parties. Today, they grow in tropical and subtropical countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and China. Grocers and markets carry them all over the world.
You might not notice when you buy one at the store, but there are different types of pineapples. In the U.S., the two most popular are the cylinder-shaped "Smooth Cayenne" with small spiky leaves and the "Extra Sweet" variety, which scientists created in a lab in Hawaii.
Nutrients per Serving
One cup of fresh pineapple chunks has:
Vitamins and Minerals
In some cultures, pineapple is a medicinal plant. That's because it has a substance called bromelain that may lower inflammation. You can buy bromelain supplements over the counter as well as skin creams that have bromelain in it. But it's best to get your nutrients from food rather than pills and creams.
The vitamins and minerals in pineapple could help shorten viral and bacterial infections and strengthen your bones. There's also a little evidence that pineapple may help prevent cancer and even help fertility by improving the quality of sperm.
Studies of bromelain supplements, not actual pineapple, show that it may help with:
Risks and Warnings
You may have an itchy tongue or sore lips right after you eat pineapple. Because bromelain breaks down proteins, it can "eat away" at your flesh. For this reason, it's also an ingredient in meat tenderizer. But as soon as you swallow the fruit, your stomach acids destroy the flesh-eating enzyme.
Some people have an allergy to pineapple. If so, when you eat it, you might have:
If your allergy is severe, you could go into shock. You may be at greater risk of a pineapple allergy if you have an allergy to other fruits, pollen, or latex.
How to Prepare It
At the store, look for a pineapple that's heavy for its size. It should be free of soft spots and dark eyes. A ripe pineapple will smell sweet on its end.
With a sharp knife, this tropical fruit is easy to cut. Slice off both the top and bottom so you have two flat surfaces. Cut off the outer skin, then cut the pineapple into quarters. Be careful to avoid the core.
You can enjoy pineapple by itself or add it to a smoothie, fruit salad, or salsa. Some people like it on pizza.
How to Store
Once you've cut it, you can cover pineapple and leave it out on the counter. This makes it softer and juicier but won't change its taste. Pineapple goes bad quickly, so make sure you eat it within 2 to 3 days.