Any millennial worth their salt knows avocado is the fruit (and yes, it is a fruit) of the moment.
Mashed on toast, blended in a smoothie or even baked in a healthy dessert, its popularity among foodies is unrivalled. As a result, sales have soared, reaching £128 million across the UK in 2017.
But there’s a new fruit in town — or rather, an old one that’s having another moment in the sun. According to Tesco, sales of whole pineapples surged by 15 per cent last year, overtaking the avocado for speed of growth.
Demand for pineapple juice is up by more than a fifth and sales of tinned pineapple chunks have grown by 5 per cent. Even pineapple-topped Hawaiian pizza is staging a comeback, with sales up 30 per cent.
So, could pineapple really be the new avocado — and which is better for you, your wallet and the environment?
Today’s young people aren’t the first to get over-excited about a fruit. Thanks to their exotic looks, pineapples created a stir across Europe after Christopher Columbus stumbled across them in South America in 1493.
But it wasn’t until the Victorian period that they became widely available. They were farmed across the Empire, while gardeners at home used modern greenhouses with hot-water heating to grow huge specimens.
The rise of the avocado in recent years has been extraordinary. This is partly down to improved ripening technology, allowing shoppers to buy them ‘ripe and ready’ from the shelves.
But there’s also a healthy dose of PR at play in the avocado’s changed fortunes. From the mid-Nineties, campaigns promoted avocados’ health benefits, while in recent years, their reinvention as a breakfast food, served on toast, has seen them become a cultural phenomenon.
Meanwhile, the pineapple has been enjoying a more under-the-radar rise — triggered by its popularity as a design motif, plastered on everything from dresses to pool inflatables.
It wasn’t long until all those Instagram foodies realised that a pineapple looks even prettier than an avocado in an internet post. Now, they’re popping up in all sorts of recipes.
For example, one updated take on the combination of ham and pineapple involves hollowing out a pineapple, stuffing with pieces of pork, wrapping it in bacon and slow-roasting it as a sticky savoury treat. This concoction is known as the ‘swine-apple’.
So, which is better for you? It’s a tricky question. Avocados are much higher in fat — but it is the healthy kind needed for brain function and absorption of vitamins and joint health.
They are also packed with fibre and an astonishing number of vitamins and minerals including B-vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E and vitamin C.
A medium-sized pineapple can have 17g of sugar, but it’s worth remembering that this is natural sugar, rather than the processed kind that’s at the root of our national obesity crisis. You might not want to guzzle too much sugary pineapple juice, but the raw fruit is still a comparatively healthy indulgence.
It’s also rich in vitamin C and antioxidants — good for cell repair in your body. Nutritionist Antonia Magor (antoniamagor.com) adds: ‘Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain that helps support healthy digestion, acts as an anti-inflammatory and promotes wound healing.’
Last month a study found eating pineapple daily could relieve painful joints in people with arthritis.
As the avocado craze hit its peak, injuries from trying to cut open the flesh and extract the slippery stone became known as ‘avocado hand’. To cut an avocado safely, wrap your hand in a tea-towel to grip it and then slice horizontally on a chopping board, removing the stone with a spoon.
But a pineapple might be a safer option, because of their spiky, grippy surface.
Chef Paul Yates, who runs the website barbecue-smoker-recipes.com, says: ‘It’s best to cut the bottom off first, to leave you with a flat surface to rest the fruit on. Then hold the pineapple from the leaves on the top and cut downwards to remove the skin one strip at a time.’
However there is another way in which a pineapple is more likely to draw blood than an avocado. The enzyme they contain, bromelain, is so powerful that it can dissolve the skin of your tongue — that’s the tingle you may feel when you eat it.