A friend of mine just moved to the beautiful state of Hawaii. I am very excited for him and his new job and I am very excited for myself as I now have a new place to go visit. I have been to Hawaii a few times and have always enjoyed it. I have been fortunate to have visited three islands, but I have spent the most time on the island of Oahu. This is where he moved. He lives on a plot of land with many acres of fertile soil for him to start planting his garden on.

His excitement reminded me of one of my visits when we went to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. This plantation was first planted in Hawaii in 1900. Since my visit pineapples have become a bigger staple in my diet, as I understand how and why they are grown and having tasted them right off of the stem. I never had a better pineapple than on the tour that day. Here are some interesting facts about pineapples.

It takes up to three years for a pineapple to reach full maturity and every plant can only produce one pineapple at a time. After harvest the plant can grow up to two additional pineapples and then it will not produce any more. Commercial growers usually only produce two pineapples and then the stem is harvested and ground down to create bromelain extract, which according to many cultures’ folklore has medicinal value, including improving digestion and helping to induce labor. It also has the ability to reduce nausea and eliminate morning sickness. Folklore also relates that pineapples can help boost your fertility. One of the biggest uses of pineapple other than eating it fresh is the use the bromelain enzyme as a meat tenderizer, but who knows what else it helps.

Pineapples do not ripen once they are harvested so make sure to pick a ripe one when you are shopping because it will not change from that maturity level. The sweetest part of the pineapple is the outside, so trim it very carefully. Although it originated in South America, most of the worldwide production today is grown in Southeast Asia.

It’s nutrient-rich having vitamins A and C which lowers the risk of gum disease. Vitamin C additionally helps support collagen production which helps maintain healthy supple skin. Pineapples are also full of calcium and potassium which lowers blood pressure levels. They also contain high levels of magnesium and manganese. Fresh pineapples also have high levels of beta carotene which is very beneficial in protecting eyesight.

Pineapple has natural properties that can help alleviate arthritis symptoms and also work to strengthen bones which make them useful in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. Pineapples, named for the Spanish word pina which translates to pine cones, have very high levels of antioxidants which is a common preventive tool people take for cancer. Antioxidants are natural or man-made substances that prevent or minimize cell damage.

The pineapple has been a symbol of hospitality since the early days of America. The legend began that the sailors from New England, when they returned from trips to the Caribbean Islands with their cargo of fruits, spices and rum, would spear a pineapple on a fence post outside his home to let his friends know of his safe return from sea. The pineapple was an invitation for them to visit, share his food and drink, and listen to tales of his voyage. As the tradition grew, colonial innkeepers added the pineapple to their signs and advertisements, and bedposts carved in the shape of a pineapple were a common sight at inns across New England.

Commercial pineapple producers utilize every part of the pineapple. At home most people discard the skin, core and ends, but commercial producers make alcohol, vinegar and animal feed out of all the non-edible parts. The largest pineapple on record weighed in at 18.25 pounds; sounds like a lot of pina coladas. Having shared so many of the benefits of pineapple and why you should eat them, the most compelling argument is that they taste delicious, especially the Golden Pineapple variety which is a hybrid between the Golden Goat and the Pineapple Kush.