By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
A few weeks ago we wrote about people's choice to become vegan and whether it was a healthy option or not. The choice to go vegan dictates not just what you put in your mouth, but also what you wear. A true vegan, must also shun wearing leather from animal hides, which, until recently, has meant footwear made from plastic, rubber or some other synthetic material, which is not necessarily good for the environment.
An alternative solution is vegan leather made from fruit waste. When leather expert Carmen Hijosa travelled to the Philippines and saw how much pineapple was grown in the country, and the amount of leaves wasted in the processing, she recognised that the leaves were made from fibres with enough strength and flexibility to handle the manufacturing process to make a leather alternative that is not only suitable for vegans because it doesn't harm animals, but is also terrific for the environment because it is created from an agricultural waste product where no additional land, water, or chemicals are required to produce it. It's a waste product being put to good use.
And the story gets even better: while the processing of real leather requires harsh chemicals with heavy metals which can end up in waterways, the pineapple processing provides extra income to pineapple farmers who also benefit from a residue biomass which can be returned to the pineapple fields and used as a natural fertilizer
Fast forward the clock from her discovery - and many development years to follow - Carmen's leather is called Piñatex and is used in furniture, handbags, accessories and shoes with high brand shoe companies, such as Puma, working on prototypes with this durable textile.
It's a great environmental triumph from an agricultural product which already has great merit.
Pineapple and inflammation
As well as tasting great, pineapple has some excellent health benefits. For those of us a decade or so beyond what can be called sprightly whose conversation invariably leads to the severity of our aches and pains, pineapple is worth cutting into and that's because it's an excellent source of the enzyme bromelain.
These days bromelain can be purchased as a natural supplement to reduce inflammation but pineapple is a much safer, more delicious way to go for improved health. It's not just anti-inflammatory benefits that pineapple can provide us with either. With so many health professionals attributing poor digestion to disease, we should consider the digestive benefits of bromelain in pineapple as well.
Best known for its protein digesting properties, scientists first believed bromelain in pineapple aided only the digestive tract however further studies suggest it goes way beyond helping your steak go down.
Therapeutic doses of bromelain may also help reduce tumour growth, excessive coagulation of the blood, and extreme inflammation. We don't know whether an average serve of fresh pineapple each day can claim the same health benefits as a supplement load since studies on the whole fruit are not available, but it may that it is equally beneficial and there's absolutely no risk in trying it to find out for yourself.
Pineapple for macular degeneration
Brightly coloured orange fruit and vegetables were once are considered the only essential foods to help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, however research suggests that fruit intake was the most effective form of protection against this disease. Pineapple in smoothies, with fresh muesli and yoghurt at breakfast, as a mid-meal snack and even cooked into a savoury main meal in the evening can help towards the 3 serves fruit daily intake goal.
Pineapple for energy
There's a continual war being waged inside our bodies. It's a fight between the good nutrients and free radicals released in the system which threaten every organ. That sounds quite dramatic but it happens and goes undetected day by day. Within each of our body cells lie an energy production factory called the mitochondria which relies on certain trace minerals and micronutrients to perform. PIneapple contains the trace mineral manganese which protects the mitochondria from free radical attack. It is also a good source of thiamin, a B vitamin required in enzymatic reactions central to energy production.