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#EatWellLiveWell: Pineapples and Macular Degeneration

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Pineapple upside-down cake

Many of us remember being told as children that eating carrots would improve our eyesight. They dubbed beta-carotene as the cure-all for our eyes. Studies are beginning to show that as we age, there are other vital nutrients even more beneficial to eye health (namely MX’s—a class of carotenoids closely related to beta-carotene). Age-related macular degeneration is one of the most common causes of blindness in aging seniors. This disease attacks the macula, the central section of one's retina, which can leave holes in one's sharp, central vision, leaving a person to rely solely on their peripheral vision. Age-related macular degeneration impairs one's ability to do everyday tasks such as reading, driving, and identifying faces. Incorporating three servings of fruit into your diet every day may reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration.


In honor of February being Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, we want to encourage our readers and patients to be proactive about their eye health. Incorporate our new Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe into your healthy diet and reap the healthy eye benefits.


Recipe: Pineapple Upside Down Cake


Servings: 16

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
  •  2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs 
  • 3 cans (8 oz. ea.) pineapple rings, drained
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 7 maraschino cherries halved
  • 1/4 cup oil 
  • 1 cup Baker’s Angel Flake coconut
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Beat the cake mix, eggs, sour cream, water and oil in a large bowl on low speed with electric until thoroughly mixed.

  3. Melt 1/4 cup of the butter in each of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans and sprinkle each pan with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar. Spread pineapple rings and cherries evenly and sprinkle with coconut. Pour half of the prepared batter into each pan.

  4. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Immediately invert onto serving plates. Wait until cool.


Nutrition information per serving:

350 calories, 65 g cholesterol, 4 g protein, 19 g fat, 300 mg sodium, 42 g carbohydrate, 1 g dietary fiber


Pineapples and Your Eyesight

A study posted in the Archives of Ophthalmology focused on 110,000 men and women and their daily intake of fruits, vegetables, and vitamins. They concluded that those who consumed 3 or more servings of fruit a day were 36 percent less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration than those who ate 1.5 servings or less of fruit a day.


Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple and is beneficial for overall health and wellness. This enzyme is known for helping aid in digestion, reducing inflammation, tumor growth, and much more. Including pineapple into your healthy diet will not only be beneficial for protecting your eyesight now and as you age, but for a multitude of other health-related issues.


Pineapple's Extended Health Benefits

Pineapples were first thought of as most beneficial to one’s digestive health. The enzyme bromelain helps reduce inflammation, and the fiber obtained from the pineapple aids in regularity. Pineapple is also an excellent source of vitamin C. Apart from being a great way to boost one’s immune system, vitamin C is the body’s No. 1 water-soluble antioxidant and helps defend the body against free radicals. Free radicals are known to aid in the buildup of plaque in arteries and increase one’s chances of cancer. Incorporating pineapple into your diet, as well as other fruits, three times a day is not only beneficial to your eyesight, but your overall health.


Although pineapples are a great source of nutrients with many health benefits, if you are taking a beta-blocker medication, which can increase the potassium in your blood, one must be cautious about putting too much potassium into their body through food sources such as pineapple, as the levels may become dangerously high. Be sure to discuss the full side effects and restrictions of a beta-blocking drug with your doctor.


Preparing and Storing Pineapple

When looking to purchase a pineapple, whether it’s to eat raw or bake with, you should look for one that is heavy for its size with no soft spots or bruising. Pineapples stop ripening once they are picked, so make sure to find one that gives off a sweet smell at the stem opposed to a musty or sour smell.


Another important consideration is the degree of processing the pineapple has gone through. Unfortunately canning or cooking pineapple damages the potency of Bromelain’s beneficial properties. For the best nutrition-packed punch, eat pineapple fresh and do not cut out the core. The core contains the highest percentage of bromelain in the entire fruit. But do not be dismayed! Bromelain is still useful in any source it is consumed.


Pineapples are safe to sit out on the counter for up to two days. This will allow the fruit to soften and become juicer. Pineapples, however, are very perishable and should be kept in the refrigerator if not used right away, and last only up to five days when chilled whole.


You may also choose to cut up the pineapple right away and store it in an airlock container in the refrigerator. The cut fruit will last longer chilled than the whole fruit, as well as stay soft and juicy longer. It is noted that by placing some of the pineapple juice in the container with the cut rings helps it keep longer. Cut and chilled fruit retains the majority of its nutrients for up to six days.


#EatWellLiveWell with UnityPoint Clinic

Here at UnityPoint Clinic we are honoring Age-related Macular Degeneration by researching and providing answers to your questions regarding this disease. Now that you know the facts, what pineapple to purchase and how to prepare and store it, get started today by making our healthy Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe!

Want more great recipe ideas and health-related articles?  Sign up for the LiveWell with UnityPoint Health email updates today!