Nature's Healing Fruit

By Monique N. Gilbert, B.Sc.
Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Counselor and Health Advocate

Pineapples are nutritionally packed members of the bromeliad family. This delightful tropical fruit is high in the enzyme bromelain and the antioxidant vitamin C, both of which play a major role in the body's healing process.

Bromelain is a natural anti-inflammatory that has many health benefits and encourages healing. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, bromelain is very effective in treating bruises, sprains and strains by reducing swelling, tenderness and pain. This powerful anti-inflammatory effect can also help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and reduce postoperative swelling.

Additionally, the bromelain contained in fresh pineapple can relieve indigestion. This enzyme helps break down the amino acid bonds in proteins, which promotes good digestion.

Pineapples provide an ample supply of vitamin C too, a commonly known antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage and boosts the immune system. Vitamin C helps build and repair bodily tissue and promotes wound healing. The body uses vitamin C to help metabolize fats and cholesterol, absorb iron, and synthesize amino acids and collagen. Collagen is one of the primary building blocks of skin, cartilage and bones. Vitamin C also decreases the severity of colds and infections.

Furthermore, due to its high vitamin C content, pineapples are good for your oral health as well. A study conducted at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that vitamin C can reduce your risk of gingivitis and periodontal disease. Besides increasing the ability of connective tissue to repair itself, vitamin C also increases the body's ability to fight invading bacteria and other toxins that contribute to gum disease. Periodontal disease, which destroys gum tissue and underlying jaw bones, has been linked to heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

So if you want a natural way to enhance your body's healing mechanisms, promote overall good health and tantalize your taste buds, pineapples are the way to go. Choose the fresh fruit because it has the most healing properties. Unfortunately, most of the bromelain in canned pineapple is destroyed due to the heat used in the canning process.

When choosing a fresh pineapple, do not judge ripeness solely based upon color. There are several varieties on the market that range from green to golden yellow. The most important factor in determining ripeness is smell, let your nose help you decide. Ripe pineapples give off a sweet, fresh tropical smell. Avoid pineapples that give off an unpleasant odor or have any soft spots or areas of dark discoloration. Once home, let the pineapple sit on your counter at room temperature until ready to use. This will preserve its sweet and tangy flavor.

To prepare pineapple, you need to peel it, remove the eyes (the thorny protrusions within the puffy squares of the skin) and the fibrous center. First, cut off the top and bottom of the pineapple with a sharp knife. Place the pineapple upright on a cutting board and carefully slice off the outer skin. With a sharp paring knife or the end if a vegetable peeler, remove the eyes. Don't cut too deep, just enough to lift out the section that contains the eye. Then, remove the fibrous core. One way to do this is to cut the pineapple lengthwise into 4 wedges (quarter it) and cut around the fibrous center core. Another popular way is to slice the pineapple crosswise and remove the cores individually with a cookie cutter. Once the fruit is prepared, it can be diced and eaten fresh, added to salads and entrees for an exotic flavor, or made into tasty tropical drinks.

Here is a delicious, nutritious, cholesterol-free smoothie recipe high in bromelain, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), iron, fiber and isoflavones.

Tropical Fruit Smoothie

1 frozen banana
1 cup fresh pineapple
3/4 cup soymilk
1 tablespoon honey or sugar (optional)

Blend all of the above ingredients in a food processor or blender for 1-2 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Makes about 2-3/4 cups (2 servings)

This recipe is from Monique N. Gilbert's book "Virtues of Soy: A Practical Health Guide and Cookbook" (Universal Publishers, 2001, p. 169).

Copyright C Monique N. Gilbert - All Rights Reserved.

Monique N. Gilbert, B.Sc., is a Health Advocate, Certified Personal Trainer/Fitness Counselor, Recipe Developer, Freelance Writer and She began a low-fat, whole grain, vegetable-rich diet in the mid-1970's. This introduced her to a healthier way of eating and became the foundation of her dietary choices as an adult. She became a full-fledged vegetarian on Earth Day 1990. Over the years she has increased her knowledge and understanding about health and fitness, and the important role diet plays in a person's strength, vitality and longevity. Monique feels it is her mission to educate and enlighten everyone about the benefits of healthy eating and living. She is the author of "Virtues of Soy: A Practical Health Guide and Cookbook" (Universal Publishers, $19.95 US, available at most online booksellers). E-mail her at or visit her website at