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Pineapple, with its fibrous yellow flesh and intense sweet, acidic, tart flavor is a tropical beauty sometimes referred to as the ‘King of the Fruits.’ Fitting, given its regal “crown” and erect posture! One of the most popular tropical fruits enjoyed world-wide, this fruit is an awesome addition to both sweet and savory dishes or on its own. Don’t let its spiky exterior keep you away – the prize on the inside is well worth the effort.
Pineapples (Ananas comosus) grow as a small shrub and are unique in that they are actually a ‘multiple fruit’ – meaning that it is actually many fruits from many flowers clustered together. (Other examples of multiple fruit include mulberry, fig, breadfruit, and jackfruit). In the wild, pineapples are pollinated primarily by hummingbirds, though pollination is performed by hand under cultivation. Pineapples are indigenous to South America where they has been cultivated for many centuries. The origin of this fruit is a little fuzzy, but we know it originated in what’s now Paraguay and Brazil and was cultivated by the Mayas and Aztecs. After its introduction by Spanish conquistadors (who called it piña de Indes, meaning “pine of the Indians”), Europeans became fascinated by this exotic fruit. It became a symbol of wealth due to its expense and the elaborate requirements needed to grow this fruit in a temperate climate. In fact, they were so exclusive that initially they weren’t even eaten but instead used mainly for display at parties, used over and over until they began to rot!
Today, pineapples are synonymous with Hawaii, which was a dominant producer for many years, led by Del Monte and Dole. Even though world production is now led by Costa Rica, the Philippines, Brazil and Indonesia, pineapples are still used as a symbol of this state and many foods with pineapple in them are therefore referred to as ‘Hawaiian’.
A unique feature of pineapple is that it contains bromelain in all parts of the plant. This is an incredibly potent mixture of proteolytic enzymes that aid in protein digestion when pineapple is consumed raw, which is why raw pineapple in marinade can make for an awesome meat tenderizer!
Nutrivore Score for Pineapple – 358
Pineapple has a Nutrivore Score of 358, making it a medium nutrient-dense food! Plus, it is a low-calorie-density food; the calorie count of pineapple is 83 calories per cup!
Per serving, pineapple is a best source (>50% daily value) of manganese and vitamin C; an excellent source (20-50% daily value) of copper and polyphenols; and a good source (10-20% daily value) of vitamin B1 (thiamin) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine).
Pineapple Nutrition Facts
One serving of pineapple is standardized to 1 cup chunks or about 165 grams (5.8 ounces). A typical pineapple weighs 905 grams, which is roughly equivalent to 5 1/2 servings.
|Pineapple, raw||Nutrivore Score: 358||Nutrient Density: Medium|
|Serving Size: 1 cup, chunks (165 grams)||Protein: 0.9 grams||Net Carbohydrates: 21.3 grams|
|Calories: 83||Total Fat: 0.2 grams||Dietary Fiber: 2.3 grams|
|Vitamin A||5.0 μg RAE||1% DV|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||130.4 μg||11% DV|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||52.8 μg||4% DV|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.8 mg||5% DV|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||0.4 mg||7% DV|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||184.8 μg||11% DV|
|Vitamin B7 (Biotin)||0.3 μg||1% DV|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||29.7 μg||7% DV|
|Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)||0.0 μg||0% DV|
|Vitamin C||78.9 mg||88% DV|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||0.0 μg||0% DV|
|Vitamin E||0.1 mg||0% DV|
|Vitamin K||1.2 μg||1% DV|
|Choline||9.1 mg||2% DV|
|Calcium||21.5 mg||2% DV|
|Copper||181.5 μg||20% DV|
|Iron||0.5 mg||3% DV|
|Magnesium||19.8 mg||5% DV|
|Manganese||1529.6 μg||67% DV|
|Phosphorus||13.2 mg||1% DV|
|Potassium||179.9 mg||4% DV|
|Selenium||0.2 μg||0% DV|
|Sodium||1.7 mg||0% DV|
|Zinc||0.2 mg||2% DV|
Pineapple Nutrition Varies With Processing
The Nutrivore Score of pineapple varies based on processing. If fresh pineapple isn’t available, frozen and canned pineapple are conveniently available year-round at the grocery store.
|Pineapple, canned, water pack, solids and liquids||386|
|Pineapple, canned, water pack, solids and liquids||386|
|Pineapple, raw, all varieties||358|
|Pineapple juice, canned or bottled, unsweetened||141|
|Pineapple juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened, diluted with 3 volume water||188|
PIneapple Nutrition Varies With Variety
There are numerous varieties of pineapple, all with different flavors and nutrient profiles, which means their Nutrivore Scores vary too! Try incorporating different types into your diet to maximize all the benefits pineapple has to offer!
|Pineapple, raw, all varieties||358|
|Pineapple, raw, extra sweet variety||362|
|Pineapple, raw, traditional varieties||371|
Health Benefits of Pineapple Nutrients
Let’s take a closer look at all of the best and excellent source of nutrients found in a 1-cup serving of pineapple and see how they benefit our health.
Pineapple Provides 88% DV Vitamin C
Pineapple is a best source of vitamin C, providing 88% of the daily value per 1-cup serving!
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that has powerful antioxidant properties (meaning it can help combat oxidative damage from free radicals and reactive oxygen species) and that serves as an enzyme cofactor (meaning it’s needed for enzymes to do their job, for example vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis, which is essential for bones, joints, teeth, blood vessels, skin and eyes) and playing important roles in immune system and skin health. Higher intakes of vitamin C are linked to reduced risk of heart disease, some forms of cancer, type 2 diabetes, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and gout. Vitamin C can also help regulate the stress response and reduce anxiety, and there’s preliminary evidence that it may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Learn more about vitamin C here.
Pineapple Provides 67% DV Manganese
Pineapple is also a best source of manganese, providing 67% of the daily value per 1-cup serving!
Manganese is an essential mineral that serves as a cofactor and component of numerous enzymes. Through these roles, it’s involved in carbohydrate metabolism, amino acid synthesis, gluconeogenesis, detoxification, lipid processing, free radical defense, bone and collagen formation, and wound healing. Although the research so far is limited, some evidence suggests that manganese can protect against osteoporosis and diabetes, and may even be involved in seizure disorders. Learn more about manganese here.
Pineapple Provides 287.1 mg of Polyphenols
Pineapple is an excellent source of polyphenols, providing 287.1 mg of polyphenols per 1-cup serving!
Polyphenols play a huge role in protecting against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative diseases, and other conditions associated with oxidative stress. In fact, a major reason foods like red wine and olive oil (as well as diets rich in both, such as the Mediterranean diet) show up as so beneficial may be due to their high polyphenol content! Along with chronic diseases, supplementing with polyphenols has been shown to protect against infections and reduce the signs of aging. Polyphenols exert their most potent effects by acting as antioxidants—preventing cellular damage by neutralizing hazardous oxygen radicals and improving cellular health as a result (which, in turn, benefits virtually every system in the body). As a result of their antioxidant properties, polyphenols also boost the immune system and protect against both chronic and acute diseases. In addition, polyphenols can help regulate enzyme function, stimulate cell receptors, modulate the functions of inflammatory cells (including T and B lymphocytes, macrophages, platelets, and natural killer cells), alter adhesion molecule expression, affect nerve cells and cardiac muscle cells, and exert antiviral effects. Learn more about polyphenols here.
Pineapple Provides 20% DV Copper
Pineapple is also an excellent source of copper, providing 20% of the daily value per 1-cup serving!
Copper is a trace mineral that’s essential for all living organisms. Copper serves as a component of numerous enzymes and proteins in the body, giving it diverse roles in the growth, development, and maintenance of various organs (including the heart and brain), bone, and connective tissue. Copper is also involved in glucose and cholesterol metabolism, helps regulate gene expression, can scavenge free radicals, and is needed for the production of red blood cells. Learn more about copper here.
How Much Pineapple Should We Eat Per Day?
Vilified for its higher sugar content, tropical fruit sometimes gets a bad rap even though these tasty fruits provide plenty of health benefits!
Consuming 800 grams of vegetables and fruits daily reduces all-cause mortality by 31% compared to eating less than 40 grams daily. A 2017 systemic review and meta-analysis looked at how all-cause mortality was impacted by varying intakes of 12 different food groups: whole grains and cereals, refined grains and cereals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, eggs, dairy products, fish, red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages. This analysis revealed non-linear relationships between how much of a particular food group we eat and how it impacts our health. While the results revealed no upper limit to the benefits of vegetable intake, the sweet spot for fruit intake was 300 grams daily. Intakes of fruit over 400 grams per day were not as beneficial as 300 grams, but the good news is that even intakes of 600 grams of fruits per day was superior to no fruit at all! This sweet spot for fruit intake translates to 2 to 3 servings of fruit daily.
Thus, a good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 500 to 600 grams of vegetables (5 to 8 servings, depending on the vegetable, and as much as you want above that) and about 300 grams of fruit (2 to 3 servings, depending on the fruit) per day. Fruit makes a convenient snack, a healthy dessert, a whimsical addition to salads, and a sophisticated flavoring agent in the form of salsas, jams, and chutneys. A serving is standardized to 1 cup chopped for raw vegetables and fruits (typically translates to 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup once cooked). Learn more in Importance of Vegetables and Fruit
Pineapple juice and extract has demonstrated anti-cancer activity against a number of human cancer cell lines, including ovarian, breast and colon cancer!
It’s always best to mix up the food you eat day to day (aiming for a wide variety of different vegetables and fruits throughout the week), and pineapple definitely has a place at the table.
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Fineli Finnish Food Composition Database: Pineapple, Without Skin
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USDA Food Central Database: Pineapple, raw, all varieties
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