Immigrants from distant lands have long had a huge impact on the Hawaiian islands—and the pineapple is no different! This nutritious fruit, which hails originally from South America, shaped the history and culture of Hawaii in significant ways. In fact, at its peak, just one tiny member of the Hawaiian archipelago supplied 75% of the world’s pineapple.
Pineapple also has the power to impact your health, by offering eight surprising and wide-ranging benefits for your body that result from its unique makeup.
Discover more about this fascinating fruit, including the role the pineapple played in history, from honoring party guests to cornerstone crop that drew thousands of immigrants to the Hawaiian islands. We’ll also discuss its role today, in which this sweet fruit can help you fuel up for a workout, recover from an injury and strengthen your body to meet any challenge that comes your way.
First, let’s explore the key role the pineapple played in shaping the recent history of the Hawaiian islands.
The Pineapple: A Key Player in Hawaii’s History
No one knows for sure when the pineapple arrived in Hawaii. Some credit Don Francisco de Paula y Marin, a Spanish confidante of King Kamehameha I. Whatever the origin, the pineapple was already being grown in the Hawaiian islands when American missionaries arrived in 1820. iii
Captain John Kidwell, an English sailor, is credited with kicking off the pineapple industry in Hawaii. He brought in several varieties of the fruit and tested them as potential commercial crops.
However, it was James Drummond Dole (that name might sound familiar to you!), who moved the pineapple industry forward by leaps and bounds.
Dole bought the 141-square-mile island of Lanai in 1922. Soon, it became the largest pineapple plantation in the world, with more than 20,000 farmed acres. For almost 70 years, this tiny little island supplied three-quarters of the world’s pineapple. Dole also operated the world’s largest cannery in Honolulu, which remained open until 1991.
In addition to giving the state its secondary nickname (“The Pineapple State”), the pineapple plantations brought workers from all over the world. Immigrants came from China, Japan, the Philippines, Portugal, Korea, Puerto Rico and other locations around the globe. You can still see the influence of these immigrants today, especially when it comes to the food you’ll find in Hawaii.
As companies found cheaper labor and lower operating costs elsewhere, operations in Hawaii began to decline. The plantation on Lanai shut down in 1992, although other growers continued operations for a few more years to come. Del Monte finally closed its operations in 2008.
Today, Costa Rica has taken over as the world’s largest producer of pineapple. However, the Maui Gold Pineapple Company still grows the fruit on Maui. You can even grab a pre-packed carton at the airport that’s cleared to return to the mainland. And if you want to enjoy a little extra something with your pineapple, Maui Wine in Kula and PAU Maui Vodka in Haliimaile use the fruit to produce pineapple wine and vodka.
Did You Know? Fun Pineapple Facts
Pineapples are a pretty unique fruit with some surprising qualities. Did you know:
- Pineapples are a “collective fruit?” This means they’re made of a bunch of berries that have fused together.
- Pineapples were a status symbol in the 1700s in England and its colonies? They cost about the same as buying a new coach to travel around in—about $8000 in today’s money. People even rented them out so guests could bring them to parties as a prized accessory!
- The Pineapple Upside Down cake was made popular by a Dole Pineapple recipe contest in 1925. Although the concept of fruit upside-down cakes had been around for a long time, it wasn’t until the contest that the recipe became a household name.
8 Awesome Health Benefits of Pineapples That Suggest You Should Eat More Pineapple
Once you discover more about the health benefits of pineapples, we think you’ll probably agree it’s time to eat more pineapple. Just one word of caution: As with everything, eat pineapples in moderation. Too much pineapple can cause mouth soreness and other issues.
Benefit #1: Pineapples are Great Fuel for Your Workout as a Source of Good Carbs.
With 22 grams of carbohydrates, primarily in the form of simple sugars, a serving of pineapple can be a great natural source of energy for your workout. Your body will quickly metabolize its simple sugars for immediate energy as you jog down the beach or hike one of Hawaii’s gorgeous hiking trails.
To give your body an extra boost, pair that pineapple with some Greek yogurt. The protein from the yogurt will help rebuild muscle after your workout so you can recover faster.
Additionally, two enzymes in the pineapple—bromelain and papain—have anti-inflammatory properties which will also contribute to a faster post-workout recovery. xi
Benefit #2: Vitamins and Minerals to Support Your Body’s Systems
A cup of pineapple contains nearly your entire recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C, which helps keep your immune system strong against attack. One serving of pineapple also offers your body:
- Vitamin A, which strengthens your immune system.
- Vitamin B-6, which maintains the functions of your nervous system.
- Iron, an essential element to help your body produce blood.
- Magnesium, which aids in calcium absorption and heart health.
- Calcium, the building block for strong bones.
Just one cup packs a powerful punch!
Benefit #3: Reduces Inflammation and Promotes Recovery
According to a study published in the journal Biotechnology Research International, the enzyme bromelain, which is found in pineapple, can act as a pain reliever, a blood thinner, and an anti-inflammatory agent.
It can also help with the absorption of drugs, especially antibiotics, to promote healing.
Benefit #4. Pineapples Facilitate Wound Healing
That same journal article in Biotechnology Research International also reports that bromelain was shown to be beneficial for surgical recovery and wound treatment, leading to faster healing times.
- Administering bromelain before surgery can reduce the average number of days for the complete disappearance of pain and post-surgical inflammation
- Bromelain applied as a cream can be helpful for burn victims to accelerate the healing process.
Additionally, the high vitamin C content in pineapple helps the body heal from wounds and injuries.
Benefit #5: Strengthens Bones & Relieves Osteoarthritis
The manganese found in pineapple can help build strong bone and connective tissue, giving you a resilient body that will keep you moving easily for years to come.
Additionally, bromelain has been shown to help patients with osteoarthritis. In combination with additional nutrients like the bioflavonoid rutin, bromelain helped patients with osteoarthritis experience less pain and inflammation in their knees.
Benefit #6: Improves Eye Health
The Vitamin A and beta carotene found in pineapple are essential for eye health. These two nutrients help produce the pigments that allow your retinas to work properly so you can see the full spectrum of light. They also help keep the structure of the cornea strong and help your eyes produce the moisture they need to stay lubricated.
Additionally, the Vitamin C in pineapple can help reduce the risk of developing cataracts.
Benefit #7: Stimulates Improved Digestion is Another Health Benefit of Pineapple
Pineapple aids your digestive system in two ways:
- It’s an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps your digestive tract function at its peak.
- Its enzymes can help break down protein in your system, assisting in easy digestion.
Bonus Benefit: When eaten as part of a diet high in fiber, pineapple can help reduce the risk of bowel cancer.
Benefit #8: Strengthens Gums (and Prevents Scurvy!)
Pineapples have antioxidant compounds and astringent properties that protect against oral cancer and help tighten gum tissue. In fact, some sources suggest that sailors looked to pineapple to provide the Vitamin C that would keep them from getting scurvy on long voyages, which can often result in gum disease.
Ready to Incorporate More Pineapple in Your Diet?
We’ve got some ideas for you! Check out our list of pineapple-themed recipes at RoyalHawaiianMovers.com/pineapple.
Whether you’re enjoying the Welcome Pineapple we left at your new house, grabbing one from the grocery store or finding one fresh at the farmer’s market, these dishes will offer you a little taste of the paradise that we call home.