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Wednesday, June 14, 2006 

Featured Health Food: Pineapple

The refreshingly sweet and juicy quality of the pineapple is reason enough to consume this tropical fruit--especially in the summer months, but the nutritional profile of this fruit will have you singing its praises as well.

Pineapples contain high amounts of vitamin C and good amounts of thiamin and manganese. Vitamin C, of course, is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect the body from free-radical damage, and many studies show that this vitamin may reduce the risk of certain cancers as well as coronary artery disease. Vitamin C may even prevent or delay the onset of cataracts. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine that can help reduce the severity of congestion caused by allergies

Pineapple's most intriguing asset, however, is a natural enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain is helpful in reducing muscle and tissue inflammation, as well as acting as a digestive aid and relieving constipation. Eating pineapple, then, may be helpful for those suffering from muscle-related injuries, individuals with arthritis, and those with digestive troubles.

The best way to enjoy pineapple is, of course, fresh. If you are on the run frequently or just looking for different ways to try this delicious fruit, the suggestions below may prove inspiring.

Dried Pineapple: This is a great way to enjoy pineapple when you are on the go, but be extremely choosy with this product as many brands add sugar. My favorite is Just Pineapple by the Just Tomatoes company. These cruncy, freeze-dried pineapples are naturally super sweet (no added sugar or sweeteners of any kind) to the point of tasting like candy. They're a kid favorite as well, because kids think they are candy...you don't have to tell them they're healthy and provide nice amounts of vitamin C and iron.

Pineapple Juice: Pineapple juice can be an interesting deviation from your morning orange juice, you just need to be extremely careful to choose an all-natural, 100% juice variety with no added sugar.

Pineapple Snack Bars: All natural snack bars with pineapple in them can be a true treat. Again, be very selective as bars can be carriers of trans fats, tons of sugar, and a host of unnatural preservatives and other chemicals. I love Boomi Bars in Macadamia Paradise and Pistachio Pineapple.

You can also mix pineapple into yogurt or cottage cheese or sprinkle on top of ice cream. It can be baked into breads and muffins and even sliced into rings and placed on the grill!

 
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