After Christmas, I spent five days on the beach with my Nana and 28 other relatives. Not a bad way to start out the new year! And although we all probably had one too many alcoholic beverages, each one came with a fresh, healthy slice of pineapple.

Pineapple contains bromelain, which contains many enzymes that help with digestion (no wonder those piƱa coladas went down so easily!). Bromelain supplements are even used to treat things like clogged arteries, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and parasites. The high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants in pineapple make it a great fruit for anyone, particularly those with joint pain, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes or asthma. And if anyone is feeling a cold coming on, grab a pineapple: it has the vitamins you’ll need to boost immunity and fight off sickness!

High levels of manganese in pineapple (over 100% of your daily value) will help boost your energy, and the B vitamins in the fruit are good for metabolism (remember, you need B vitamins to metabolize!). Pineapple is a very alkaline food, meaning it will help balance out all those acidic foods we just can’t seem to avoid: coffee, sugar, meat, milk, bread…

Eat your pineapple fresh. I scoped out the beach bar on my vacation early in the week to make sure they were slicing the pineapple fresh each morning (they were!). Fruit begins to oxidize as soon as it is cut and exposed to air, so try to slice it as close to eating time as possible. Also, I’d stay away from canned pineapple. Canned fruit is usually resting in sugary syrup, which increases sugar and decreases vitamin and mineral content. Fresh is always best; but if that’s not possible, try to eat either frozen or pineapple that is stored in natural pineapple juice rather than syrup.

So next time you find yourself parked on a white sandy beach soaking up your vitamin D, grab a drink with a side of pineapple. And if that’s not a realistic scenario for you, try to incorporate pineapple into your diet in other ways, such as shrimp and pineapple skewers on the grill; adding pineapple to your smoothies or yogurt, or (my personal favorite) pineapple pizza!

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