The sweetness of pineapple
Pineapple is known for its complex spiky texture on the outside and its characteristic sweetness on the inside.
It is because of this remarkable sweetness that health-conscious people often wonder if it can be part of a healthy diet. The short answer is yes.
Pineapple is packed with vitamins and minerals and is low in fat and sodium.
Read on to learn about the calories in pineapple, the beneficial nutrients it contains, and how to select the perfect pineapple no matter what recipe you’re making.
Where does pineapple come from?
Pineapple, native to South America, is considered the third most important tropical fruit in the world after bananas and citrus.
It actually gets its name from European explorers who thought the fruit looked like a pine cone.
According to market and consumer data firm Statista, the majority of fresh pineapples today are grown in Costa Rica, Brazil and the Philippines.
Pineapple Nutrition Facts
You know that pineapple combines a good dose of sweetness with a hint of sweetness, but what does it offer nutritionally? Lots of vitamins, for example.
Here are the nutrients in a cup (165 grams) of raw pineapple chunks:
Egg white: 1 g (2 percent of the daily recommended value, or DV)
Fat: 0 g (0 percent RDA)
Sodium: 2 mg (0.08 percent DV)
Carbohydrates: 19.5 g (7 percent DV)
Fiber: 2 g (7 percent DV)
Vitamin D: 0 µg (0 percent)
Vitamin C: 28 mg (31 percent RDA)
Iron: 0.41 mg (2 percent RDA)
Potassium: 206 mg (4 percent RDA)
thehealthy.com, Getty Images
Pineapple Calories vs. Other Fruits
Because of its sweetness, pineapple is often thought of as a high-calorie fruit, but is that true?
There are 74 calories in a cup of pineapple, the majority of which come from carbohydrates.
Compared to a comparable serving of other fruits, the calories in pineapple fall right in the middle.
In comparison, watermelon and strawberries contain 46 and 49 calories, respectively, while a cup of sliced mango has 99 calories. And a banana has 134 calories per cup.
But it’s important to keep in mind that calories aren’t the only measurement to look at when determining the nutritional value of a food.
“While the comparison provides some insight into calories, it’s important to consider the nutritional content and portion size of each fruit,” explains registered dietitian Kelsey Pezzuti.
(Here’s how calorie content in food is determined.)
Benefits of pineapple
Pineapple is more than just a delicious, colorful fruit. The rich nutritional profile may provide health benefits.
Boosts the immune system
“One cup of pineapple chunks provides an excellent source of vitamin C, which not only improves your immune system, but also helps the body form collagen, an essential contributor to wound healing,” explains Pezzuti.
Keeps bones healthy
It’s not just your immune system that can benefit from adding pineapple to your plate. One cup of this juicy fruit is an excellent source of manganese, a nutrient that plays a key role in bone and tissue health.
“Eating a few pieces of pineapple per day can help prevent bone loss in patients with osteoporosis,” adds Pezzuti.
Perhaps the most beneficial compound found in pineapple hides in its stem.
“While pineapples have numerous health-promoting micronutrients, what makes them truly exceptional is their ability to aid in digestion, boost immunity and fight cancer with a group of enzymes found in the fruit and stem of the fruit. known as bromelain,” explains Arielle Dani Lebovitz, a registered dietitian nutritionist and board-certified diabetes care and education specialist.
And thanks to the fiber in pineapple, the benefits of bromelain can go even further.
“This protein-digesting enzyme can help facilitate digestion for people with inflammatory bowel disease by reducing inflammation in the GI tract, and when you combine these enzymes with fiber, they work as a team to encourage optimal digestion,” says Pezzuti.
Disadvantages of pineapple
In general, most people can enjoy pineapple. But there are certain times when you may want to eat it in moderation.
It makes your mouth burn
If you’ve eaten pineapple, chances are you know the feeling of a pineapple-related mouth burn. Eating too much of the fruit can leave you with a sore, burning tongue or raw spots at the corners of your mouth.
You owe that to bromelain. The enzyme dissolves the protective layer of mucus in your mouth, which can lead to irritation.
One way to get around this unpleasant side effect is to eat pineapple in moderation.
It is higher in carbohydrates
While the nutrients in pineapple may provide health benefits, people with diabetes are often told to avoid this sweet fruit due to its sugar content. But that advice may be unfounded.
“All fruits fit into a healthy way of eating,” says Vandana Sheth, a board-certified diabetes care and education specialist and author of My Indian Table: quick and tasty vegetarian recipes.
She suggests pairing pineapple with a source of protein or vegetable fat, such as nuts or cottage cheese, to avoid a spike in blood sugar.
And simply adjusting your portion size may be all you need to do to fit pineapple into your diabetes meal plan.
“If you have to watch your carb intake, you can easily turn pineapple into a low-carb fruit by cutting the serving size in half,” adds Pezzuti.
How do you choose a good pineapple?
Now that you’ve decided to add pineapple to your plate, it’s time to buy fruit. Start by identifying what a ripe pineapple looks and feels like.
“To pick the perfect pineapple, pick one that’s green to golden, plump, and firm with fresh green leaves that feel heavy for their size and have a sweet aroma,” says Lebovitz, who is also author of Where do bananas come from?
Making sure you pick a ripe fruit is especially critical for pineapples.
“Once picked, pineapples don’t ripen or sweeten any further; they just get juicier. This means that if pineapples are picked before they are ripe, they will never be sweet,” says Lebovitz.
If you want to save time, consider buying canned pineapple as an alternative to fresh as a ready-to-eat option.
If you’re going this route, keep one important detail in mind: select canned pineapple packed in its own juice — not syrup.
“Look for label descriptions like ‘packed in 100 percent juice’ or ‘no added sugar,’ as fruit packed in juice has less added sugar than fruit packed in syrup,” explains Pezzuti.
If you need inspiration for cooking with canned pineapple, try one of these canned pineapple recipes.
(Check out this guide to seasonal fruits and vegetables.)
The best ways to enjoy pineapple
Fresh, sliced pineapple is delicious on its own, but it’s not the only way to enjoy this fruit.
“Try grilling pineapple and serve it alongside ice cream or pair it with chopped nuts for dessert,” Sheth says. (Bonus: Grilling will make the fruit less likely to burn your tongue.)
You can also combine this sweet fruit with savory dishes.
“Mix a can of crushed pineapple with guacamole for a fiber-filled dip, or use it as a taco mix-in or burger topping,” adds Pezzuti.
To take advantage of all the pineapple, make sure to add the core as well. “You can keep the core and freeze it, then add it to smoothies to increase the fiber and sweetness,” shares Lebovitz.
If you want to try some new pineapple recipes, check out this list of the 50 Best Pineapple Recipes. You might discover your new favorite dish.