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Pineapple nutrition facts, health benefits, uses and applications

What is a pineapple?

One of the most prized and popular fruits, pineapple or ananas has an interesting history to narrate. Originally indigenous to local Paraguayans in South America, it spread from its native land by the local Indians up through the South and Central Americas and to the West Indies. Later, it was brought to Spain when Columbus discovered Americas’ in 1493. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it spread to rest of the world by the European sailors (just like tomatoes) who carried it along with them to protect themselves from scurvy, a disease caused by the deficiency of vitamin-C.

Scientifically, it is known as Ananas comosus and belongs to the family of Bromeliaceae, in the genus; Ananas. Pineapple is a tropical, perennial, drought-tolerant plant. It reaches up to 5-8 ft in height and spreads around about 3-4 feet radius cover. It is essentially a short, stout stem with a rosette of waxy long, needle-tipped leaves.

The plant bears several long, oval to cylindrical fruits during each season from March until June. Botanically, the A. comosus described as a compound (multiple) fruit that develops from many small fruitlets fused together around a central core. Its pulp is juicy and fleshy with the stem serving as a supporting fibrous core. The outer skin features rough, tough, and scaly rind. The color in the ripe fruits may be yellow, orange-yellow or reddish. Internally, its juicy flesh may range from creamy white to yellow and has a mix of sweet and tart taste with rich flavor. Each fruit measures up to 12 inches in length and weighs 1 to 8 pounds or more.

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Pineapple nutrition facts

One cup of fresh pineapple chunks contains approximately:
82 calories
0.2 grams (g) of fat
0 g of cholesterol
2 milligrams (mg) of sodium
21.65 g of total carbohydrate (including 16 grams of sugar and 2.3 grams of fiber)
0.89 g of protein

As a percentage of your daily requirements, the same amount of fresh pineapple chunks provides:
131 percent of vitamin C
2 percent of vitamin A
2 percent of calcium
3 percent of iron

Pineapple is also a source of important vitamins and minerals, including:
vitamin B-6
pantothenic acid
beta-carotene and other antioxidants

Fresh pineapple is the only known source of an enzyme called bromelain, which might play a role in a range of different health benefits.

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Pineapple health benefits

Fresh pineapple is low in calories. Nonetheless, it is a storehouse for several unique health promoting compounds, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.

100 g fruit provides just about 50 calories; equivalent to that of apples. Its flesh contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Nonetheless, it is a rich source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber like pectin.

Pineapple fruit contains a proteolytic enzyme bromelain that digests food by breaking down protein. Bromelain also has anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting and anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that consumption of pineapple regularly helps fight against arthritis, indigestion and worm infestation.

Fresh pineapple is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin; vitamin-C. 100 g fruit contains 47.8 or 80% of this vitamin. Vitamin-C required for the collagen synthesis in the body. Collagen is the main structural protein in the body required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body protect from scurvy; develop resistance to combat infectious agents (boosts immunity) and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body. It also contains small amount Vitamin-A (provides 58 IU per 100 g) and β -carotene levels. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin-A is also required maintaining healthy mucosa, skin, and is essential for vision. Studies suggest that consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps the human body to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

Further, ananas fruit is rich in the B-complex group of vitamins like folates, thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like copper, manganese, and potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is an essential cofactor for red blood cell synthesis. Manganese is a co-factor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger.

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Pineapple uses and applications

The fruit can be added to your daily diet in many forms, most commonly by cutting them into pineapple chunks to snack on. Crushed pineapple can also be added to cupcakes, cookies, bars, ice creams, yogurt, and various other desserts. Fresh pineapple juice or smoothie is another popular and delicious way to start your day.

The pineapple upside down cake is an all-time favorite of food enthusiasts around the world. Its antioxidant-rich juice is also enjoyed around the world as the tropical drink, piña colada. Pineapple leaves are used as wallpaper and in ceiling insulation. Pineapple fragrance oils are also popular due to their tropical touch.

Production of pineapple juice

Pineapple juice comes from the fruit of the tropical plant Ananas comosus. The main varieties that are used for juice are the Smooth Cayenne, the Abacaxi type (the Pemambuco or Perola), and the Queen. The juice may be obtained, as a by-product, at any of the following steps: small fruit peeling and coring, eradicator, trimming, slicing and cutting, excess juice in crushed pineapple, and from the cores.

To obtain juice from small fruit, cores, and rejected units, the flesh is first firmly ground or chopped. Any type of grinder similar to an Enterprise meat grinder is satisfactory. The juice may then be extracted by means of a pulper or by one of the special extracting machines now on the market. Screens with holes 0.5 mm (0.02 in.) in diameter are suggested. If a juice low in suspended solids is desired, it will probably be necessary to make a second extraction or to centrifuge the juice. The juice from the various sources may be blended and canned as pineapple juice with or without added sugar, or some of the juice may be clarified, further refined, and concentrated to form part of the syrup for canned pineapple.

As with most juices, pineapple juice is more commonly pre-pasteurized and then aseptically filled. Plain cans and ends made of differentially coated tinplate are recommended (high tin coating mass on the inside). To create a vacuum in the can, it is necessary to preheat the juice to a temperature of at least 71 °C (160 °F) before filling. A plate heat exchanger may be used. The cans should be filled as full as possible.

If the product is pasteurized in the can, on all sizes of cans up to the No. 2, a process of 10 min in boiling water should be sufficient. A product with a superior flavor product may be obtained by using temperatures of 82 °C (180 °F) and a time of 20 min for No. 2 size cans. The cans should be cooled in water to 36–41 °C (95–105 °F) immediately after processing is completed.

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