Pineapple power 

Pineapples are one of the most popular tropical fruit in the world. Originating from South America, they were introduced to Europe in the 17th century. Not only delicious, pineapples are also packed with nutrients such as manganese, vitamin C and fibre. From a nutritional perspective, what really makes pineapple exciting and unique is the high quantity of the enzyme bromelain. 

Bromelain

Ever felt your mouth tingle after eating fresh pineapple? That’s due to the high levels of bromelain!

Bromelain is what’s known as a proteolytic digestive enzyme, which means that it helps break down proteins into the amino acid blocks, allowing better absorption. Have you ever bloated after eating a high protein meal such as red meat? Bromelain could help. It’s is one of the most efficient aids for digesting protein, and has been traditionally used for centuries.

Bromelain has other properties too and has been shown to help reduce inflammation and swelling after injury. It also works in partnership with quercetin (found in apples, onions, parsley and sage) and vitamin C for sinus health and as a boost for the immune system. If using for this purpose, it’s best taken on an empty stomach.  

Including pineapple regularly in your diet will help although heat and the canning process will destroy the enzymes’ activity, so make sure it’s fresh.

Pineapple facts  

Did you know?

  • The pineapple got its name from the Spanish who called it ‘the pine of the Indies’ as it looks like a pine cone, but the English added that it is as ‘sweet as an apple’ and the combined name stuck.
  • Pineapples are actually a group of berries that fuse together as they grow resulting in what seems to be one fruit.
  • Pineapples are the only fruit that contain high levels of bromelain, found mostly in the stem, core and skin of the fruit.
  • Bromelain is also used to tenderise meat. Added to meat shortly before cooking, it helps break down tough fibres.

Pineapple is so versatile, used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Here are a couple of my favourite recipes to bring the tropical taste to your kitchen.

Simple Pineapple Salsa (serves 2)

Ingredients

½ pineapple

1 red onion

4 tomatoes

Handful of coriander leaves

Lime juice

Method

  1. Simply chop all the ingredients mix together, stir in the lime juice to taste and enjoy!

Pineapple Rice (serves 2)

This is one of those dishes that instantly brings that holiday feeling even to the dullest days. Coconut and pineapple are made for each other. Serve with zesty chicken or spicy beans.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

150g basmati rice

1 tin of coconut milk

¼ pineapple

½ lime

2-3 spring onions  

Red pepper flakes ¼ tsp

Small handful fresh coriander

Method

  1. Bring water to the boil and add the rice and let simmer for 5 minutes. Drain out the water and add the coconut milk. Continue to simmer and keep stirring.
  2. Stir the pineapple into the pan for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff up the rice.
  3. Add the spring onions, coriander and red pepper flakes and mix well.
  4. Squeeze in the lime juice to serve.

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