A Pineapple a Day Keeps the Allergies Away

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(How to Prepare a Pineapple, step-by-step photos in post)

I can’t think of a single fruit I don’t adore. That includes the odd ones, the misshapen or unheard of, and even the ones most people don’t know are fruit, like tomatoes and avocados. One of my favorites, however (and I don’t choose favorites lightly) is the pineapple. I don’t know what it is – the play of sweet and sour, the acidity of it tingling over my lips, or the truly unique flavor you just can’t find anywhere else.

It all started with a brief but whirlwind obsession with the television show ‘Psych‘ – a comedic detective series starring the perceptive, and deceptive, psychic Shawn Spencer. Started at first as a joke, a pineapple makes an appearance in nearly every episode, hidden somewhere amid the scenes. Because of this, the fruit quickly became the show’s emblem. I remember pointing out pineapples everywhere I saw them, both on TV and in reality, and eventually I began buying (and eating) them in absurd quantities.


This happened to take place the very same summer that I was experiencing my worst-ever allergies. It was hot, and the air was thick with pollen… but with the increase of pineapple in my diet came a notable decrees in sneezes, runny noses, and itchy eyes.

After a couple weeks of eating the fruit on a daily basis, I stopped taking my allergy meds.

The pineapple (Ananas Comosus, or ‘very fine fruit’) is actually the fruit of a Bromeliad plant. Native to Brazil and Paraguay, it has long been used in holistic medicines as an anti-inflammatory for things such as joint pain and arthritis; to break up and reduce mucus caused by colds or allergies; or as a digestive aid because of its naturally high content of bromelain – an enzyme that helps break down and absorb proteins. Not to mention, it’s a fantastic source of vitamin C and Manganese, among other vitamins and minerals.

While some allergy supplements already use extracts of bromelain in their products, studies are still being done to determine just how effective this fruit can be, with concerns that the enzymes may break down too quickly during digestion.

Pharmacology and science aside, all I need to know is that it’s TASTY.

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(Note: The possible benefits of pineapple only apply to fresh fruit. Canned pineapple has been pasteurized (heated to a very high temperature to kill bacteria), and when the fruit is cooked it loses much of its nutrients and enzymes.)

Now, the jury is still out on whether this works with any certainty – especially for those with particularly heavy allergies – so I’m not saying it will do the trick for everyone. In fact, some people are allergic to pineapple itself, so to those I say, stay away! But if you’re a fan of fresh, juicy pineapple like I am, this is one home-cure I highly recommend trying.

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(Fun tip: the pineapple is considered a bit of an international ‘welcome fruit’, as it became associated with sailors returning from far-away voyages.)

How to prepare a fresh pineapple

First, find yourself a ripe pineapple.

Pineapples grow from the bottom (where the stem connects) up to the leaves, so they will always be the most ripe at the base.
You want a pineapple with a fair amount of yellow – this will be most noticeable at the base, but the higher the yellow rises the riper the fruit is. If the pineapple is all green, it is under-ripe.
Squeeze the pineapple gently – it should be very firm, but not rock hard. It should give very slightly under pressure, but if it’s at all soft, spongy, or sticky, than it’s gone bad.
Most importantly, give the pineapple a sniff near the base. It should smell sweet, and, well… like a pineapple. If there’s little or no smell, than the fruit isn’t ripe yet. If it smells fermented, or like vinegar, it’s over-ripe.

Note: it is a common misconception that a pineapple is ripe when a leaf can easily be plucked from the top. This is not true! If leaves can be pulled from the fruit, it is rotten.

Now that you’ve got the perfect fruit picked out…

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Using a large serrated knife or bread knife, slice the pineapple in half width-wise. Working with one half at a time, remove the top (or bottom) by slicing down at an angle on either side of the leaves (or base).

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Using a sawing motion, slice away the tough outer skin. Once the skin is removed, slice the sweet and tender fruit from the tough, fibrous core.

(Alternatively, you can use a pineapple corer (reminiscent of a large donut-puncher) to press down the center of the fruit, removing both the core and skin. All gadgetry aside, though, a knife works just fine).

This stiff center shoot is harder and less sweet than the rest of the fruit, and is always removed, typically. However, if the fruit is at peak ripeness, some don’t mind the chewier midsections, and will simply divide the fruit whole. While the stalk may be less appealing, it may also contain a higher content of nutrients. The choice is yours.

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Slice and serve as is, or use in cooking, baking, or dessert making.

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What’s your favorite way to eat a pineapple?

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32 Responses to A Pineapple a Day Keeps the Allergies Away

  1. Abby April 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    Oh fresh pineapple is so yummy! I love it for breakfast. Great info, I had no idea it could be so helpful.

    • Willow April 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

      I had a big bowl full just this morning! :)

  2. Oishii Treats April 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    I love fresh pineapple, it can be a mess to cut up sometimes but its so worth it, way better than canned pineapple. and I had know idea of the health benefits of fresh vs canned. Thanks for sharing, going to pick some up soon at the commissary.

    • Willow April 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

      I bit juicy, for sure, but as you say – so worth it! :D

  3. Anita at Hungry Couple April 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    How interesting. I don’t happen to suffer from allergies but we both do love pineapple. It makes a great refreshing fruit snack…not too bad in a cocktail either. :)

    • Willow April 26, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

      Ooh, it’s been a while since I’ve had a tropical cocktail… sounds good with the warm weather on its way!

  4. Kat April 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    Yes we do think alike! I actually had no idea about the allergy alleviating property of the pineapple. I really love how informative your posts are, and I think I’ve been doing it wrong with the pineapple. I definitely think we should continue this, we could even collaborate/cross-reference/create an blogocyclopedia – just a thought ;)

    • Willow April 26, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

      That’s a great idea! I’ll do mangos next (though not right away… still waiting for the ones on my counter to ripen a bit).
      Are you on FB? http://www.facebook.com/#!/WillCookForFriends

    • Kat May 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

      I don’t have facebook for the blog yet (just a defunct personal account), I’m on twitter though @gooseberrygirl

  5. Jen @ Juanita's Cocina April 26, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    I like my pineapple fresh. No cooked or canned stuff here! The BEST pineapple I’ve ever had I got at Disney World. Really. I still dream about it.

    Also, I love pineapple so much I hate a tattoo of a pineapple on my foot. THAT is a true story.

    • Willow April 27, 2012 at 1:54 am #

      Disney World? I never would have thought!

      And I’m hoping you mean ‘have’, not ‘hate’ – in which case… I LOVE YOU! Haha! That sounds like an awesome tattoo. :)

    • Jen @ Juanita's Cocina April 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

      Indeed, I did mean “have”. *sigh*

      Why did I say hate? Dr. Freud? Anyone???

  6. Jay April 27, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    wow..lovely post with interesting presentation
    new to your space
    awesome space you have here
    happy following you..:)
    do stop by mine sometime
    Tasty Appetite

    • Willow April 27, 2012 at 1:55 am #

      Thank you! I’m enjoying browsing through your blog, it’s lovely! :)

  7. From Valeries Kitchen April 27, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    Who knew??? Luckily, I love pineapple and so do my boys. I just bought one today as a matter of fact. I’d way rather eat pineapple than take Claritin!

  8. Courtney J April 27, 2012 at 4:52 am #

    I love fresh pineapple and feta cheese as toppings on my pizza. Such a tasty combo.

    And I love pineapple in my yogurt in the morning. I add some unsweetened coconut too and it’s like a little morning pina colada! *hehe*

    • Willow April 27, 2012 at 11:39 am #

      Mmm – I’m a fan of the Hawaiian Pizza, as well… and that breakfast pina colada is such a good idea! :D

  9. Katie @ OhShineOn April 27, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    I love this post. There’s nothing better than fresh pineapple on a nice weekend morning with a cup of coffee if you ask me. I also love the Psych picture. Total studs, in my opinion.

    • Willow April 27, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

      Heheh – you said it. :)

  10. Meg April 28, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    Grilled pineapple. Oh man. Its one of my favourite fruits. I could eat it all day. And it yields positive effects on the body..

    • Willow April 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

      Not so much cooked, unfortunately… but yes, grilled pineapple is incredible! It’s like hitting the heat just concentrates the sweetness and brings it to a whole new level. :)

  11. Nikolina April 29, 2012 at 10:37 am #


  12. Katherine Martinelli April 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    Oh man my husband and I are also weirdly obsessed with Psych! Ha! Also, we both love pineapples :-) I clearly need to be eating more pineapple. Gorgeous photos!

    • Willow April 30, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      Thanks! Isn’t it a fun show? :D

  13. Richa April 29, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    pfft.. i am allergic to pineapples! mild but still:)

    • Willow April 30, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      I’m sorry to hear that! Thankfully there are lots of other wonderful fruits out there.

  14. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes May 1, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Just one more thing to add to the list “What Heather and Willow have in common” :) Justin and I LOVE pineapple, i had no idea that it can help with allergy symptons – the pollen this spring has been really bad for Justin, I on the other hand am lucky do not suffer from allergies. He will be super excited too be eating fresh pineappl everyday!

    • Willow May 1, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

      Haha – yay! I hope it helps Justin with his allergies… it did wonders for me a couple years ago. :)

  15. CJ - Food Stories May 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    What an interesting post … I wish I could rid myself of my allergies :-)

  16. Cassandra July 11, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    A fellow pineapple advocate! It was interesting to read about the health benefits, especially since you were able to share a tale that was personal to you.

    It is often so hard to choose a fresh pineapple! Luckily, here in Spain, most fruterias will cut the fruit in half so you can see if it’s ready to eat. That’s how I most often buy mine–in halves.

    Let’s see, as for eating, nothing beats fresh pineapple with a squeeze of lime! However, once I made a crostata base and filled it with a cream cheese mixture (an egg, some sugar, and vanilla, like I was making a cheese cake), and then topped it with pineapple slivers before baking. Yummy!

    • Willow Arlen July 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

      That’s very cool that they will cut it open for you… I wish they did that here! Your pineapple cheese cake tart sounds delicious, I’ll have to try something like that!

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