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10 reasons to love pineapple

Updated: July 7, 2011 03:46 PM EDT
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By Jackie Newgent

From Bright Smile Beautiful You 

I find it interesting to know a bit of the story behind a food. Somehow it seems to make a healthful food taste that much more delightful. That applies to a fruit that I spoke about in a recent video appearance: pineapple. Lately, I feel like a head cheerleader for this unique fruit! Here are 10 reasons why:


1. Pineapple is a symbol of hospitality.


2. Each fruit usually weighs a few pounds, but can weigh as much as a hefty 20 pounds.


3. Pineapple won't continue to ripen once it's picked, no matter what you try to do to it. So to determine if it's ripe, smell the bottom for sweetness; it should have a faint pineapple scent, but it shouldn't smell too perfumey.


4. The top leafy part of the pineapple is called the crown. You can twist it off before cutting into the pineapple to make prep easier. (I wonder if it can somehow be turned into a wearable -- yet royally wacky -- fascinator hat!)


5. The intriguing skin of the pineapple has a diamond-like pattern. The center of each diamond is often called an "eye."


6. The tropical fruit has many beneficial properties, including powerful antioxidant activity. One cup of fresh pineapple chunks has about 80 calories. It's an excellent source of vitamin C and a significant source of potassium and dietary fiber. One key nutrient standout above all else is manganese, a trace mineral essential for proper metabolism.


7. Fresh pineapple provides bromelain, an enzyme extracted from the pineapple's stem that has anti-inflammatory properties, which is a big benefit for protecting you from chronic diseases. The enzyme is also what's responsible for not allowing gelatin to set up properly.


8. It is surprisingly versatile in cuisine: It can be enjoyed fresh, grilled, baked, broiled, poached, roasted, sauteed or stir-fried.


9. Pineapple pairs deliciously well with many ingredients, especially bananas, mangoes, oranges, raspberries, strawberries, coconut, ginger, vanilla, chili peppers, cilantro and cinnamon.


10. The popularity of pineapple as a key ingredient is popping up in many "hot" foods at your market.

 

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Jackie Newgent is a registered dietitian, chef and award-winning author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook and Big Green Cookbook. She frequently appears as a culinary nutrition expert on television. Past appearances include ABC's "Good Morning America" and NBC's "Dateline". Visit her website, JackieNewgent.com.

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