Don't let its spiny skin or sweet flesh fool you. Pineapple is a nutrient-packed, versatile fruit that can offer you a variety of health benefits—and be a delicious part of many dishes, from savory to sweet.
Pineapple is rich in vitamin C, manganese, copper and folate. The other nutrition stats on pineapple are impressive too.
One cup contains:
Pineapple can boost bone health, help you shed belly fat, and offer immune support when you're trying to fend off bad bacteria. Here, more about the many healthy benefits of eating pineapple, plus yummy ways to incorporate it into your diet.
Related: Healthy Pineapple Recipes
Feeling under the weather and looking for a quick boost for your immune system? While oranges get most of the attention for their high vitamin C content, cup for cup pineapples have almost as much of this powerful vitamin. In fact, just one cup of pineapple has more than 100 percent of your daily recommended value for vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can ward off damage to healthy cells.
While vitamin C can't necessarily prevent you from getting sick altogether, it can help reduce the severity of numerous conditions, especially those that occur due to chronic inflammation, including arthritis, atherosclerosis and asthma. Vitamin C also helps your immune system stay running like a well-oiled machine, helping potentially reduce the duration of common illnesses, including a cold, the flu or an ear infection.
When the next flu season comes around or you're worried about catching a cold, try this refreshing Pineapple Smoothie. Made with three simple ingredients—pineapple, juice and vanilla yogurt (plus water and ice)—this seriously good sipper provides a boost to the immune system with the vitamin C and can help keep your body happy and healthy.
Watch: How to Cut a Pineapple
Calcium gets most of the credit for strengthening bones, but copper plays a key role in bone formation and strengthening, too. This important mineral contains an enzyme that aids in the formation of collagen for bone and connective tissue, and it contributes to the mechanical strength of each bone.
Copper also prevents bone resorption—a process where broken-down bone cells and minerals are absorbed by the blood. One cup of pineapple chunks provides 9 percent of your recommended daily value for copper.
Manganese, an essential trace mineral, is also crucial for bone formation and health. It works to increase the mineral density of bone, specifically in the spinal bones. That's important for postmenopausal women who are often deficient in manganese and therefore face a higher risk of bone fracture. Just one cup of pineapple packs in 76 percent of your recommended daily value for manganese.
If you're working to improve bone health by adding calcium to your diet, don't forget to incorporate copper- and manganese-rich foods as well. Try this simple three-ingredient Pineapple & Avocado Salad to boost your bone health.
Read More: How to Prepare Fresh Pineapple
Featured Recipe: Sesame-Ginger Pork Patty with Grilled Pineapple
Rich in fiber, pineapple helps food to pass easily through the digestive tract and stimulates the release of chemicals to aid in smooth digestion. Bromelain, an enzyme found only in pineapple, works to digest protein and may help reduce gut inflammation. By remedying poor digestion, bromelain may lessen bloating and water retention. Other health benefits of bromelain include decreasing the likelihood of arthritis inflammation, clotting and bruising.
Bromelain also makes pineapple a great meat tenderizer, as the enzyme works to break down protein quickly. Hawaiian pizza is the best example of this: while you might not put any other fruit on your pizza, the pineapple chunks pair great with ham. And chicken! Try this Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken to see for yourself.
Featured Recipe: Hawaiian Steak Fajitas with Grilled Pineapple Salsa
Can't get enough pineapple? Here are some fun facts to impress your friends with!
Try These: Healthy Pineapple Smoothie Recipes
Looking for more ways to incorporate pineapple into your diet? For an appetizer, start with this Pineapple & Jalapeño Salsa served with your favorite tortilla chips, or use it to top off fish tacos. Try this Pineapple Tofu Stir-Fry for a meat-free entree sure to please the whole crowd. To finish off with something sweet, try this Pineapple-Coconut Layer Cake made with whole-wheat flour and fresh pineapple.