Pineapple is a delicious tasting, nutrient-dense tropical fruit that provides a ton of health benefits, yet it’s still low in overall calories. It is used widely around the world as a natural remedy to treat everything from indigestion to being used as a natural allergy cure, and the benefits of pineapple don’t stop there.
The benefits of pineapple are due to its high supply of vitamin C, vitamin B1, potassium and manganese, in addition to other special antioxidants that help prevent disease formation. What most people don’t realize about this tasty fruit is that it’s infinitely more useful to humans than just a garnish for tropical drinks.
Pineapple is filled with phytonutrients that work as well as many medicines do to reduce symptoms of some of the most common illnesses and conditions we see today. Pineapple benefits include protection against cardiovascular disease, improved fertility, reduced inflammation and more. On top of the many health benefits of pineapple, it’s easy to find, inexpensive, versatile in recipes and, of course, its sweet, golden flesh tastes great too!
Health Benefits of Pineapple
1. Rich Source of Immune Boosting Vitamin C
Pineapple has a whopping 131 percent of your daily value of antioxidant Vitamin C! Vitamin C is commonly used to minimize coughs, colds and flu symptoms. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a role in maintaining the health of the body’s connective tissue as well as acting as an antioxidant.
As an antioxidant it has the ability to synthesize collagen, which is the main protein in the body responsible for maintaining healthy blood vessels and organs. The vitamin C that is found in pineapple can also help skin problems, like a sunburn or dried and irritated skin. (3, 4)
You can even add pineapple to homemade body scrubs to get these benefits. Because of the Vitamin C content in pineapple, this amazing fruit can help your body fight off free radical damage and reduce inflammation, which are known to contribute to the development of cancer.
2. High in Fiber
Fruits that are high in fiber can lower your risk of colorectal cancer. Fiber can also lower your blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetics may show signs of improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. (5)
Being that one medium pineapple contains about 13 grams of fiber, eating pineapple is a great way to maximize these health benefits. Because of its high fiber content, one of the benefits of pineapple is that it can help to prevent constipation and will promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.
3. Improves Fertility
Studies show that eating foods that are rich in antioxidants can help prevent infertility. Because free radicals can damage the reproductive system, foods with high antioxidant activity like pineapples that battle these free radicals are recommended for people who are trying to conceive.
The antioxidants in pineapple, such as vitamin C, beta-carotene and the other vitamins and minerals that are present, including copper, affect both male and female fertility. Antioxidants have been shown to help increase blood flow and restore proper tissue formation in the genital organs, plus they can assist in boosting sperm count. (6, 7)
4. Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease
Pineapple supports heart health because of its fiber, potassium and vitamin C content. One study found that one of the benefits of pineapple juice if that it has cardio-protective abilities, as seen in studies done on rats. The study concluded that pineapple juice can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and can help establish digestion and absorption.
High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones. (8)
Fruits that are high in potassium can also help with lowering high blood pressure. Pineapple helps to reduce dangerous inflammation and restore healthy blood pressure due to its beneficial antioxidants.
Pineapple also helps improve heart health because of the effects of powerful bromelain, which can fight blood clotting and is nature’s answer to those taking an aspirin a day to lower the risk of heart attack. Bromelain has been shown to stop blood platelets from sticking together or building up along the walls of blood vessels – both known causes of heart attacks or strokes.
5. Prevents Asthma
The beta-carotene that is found in plant foods like pineapple helps to lower the risk of developing asthma. Toxins, poor nutrition, pollution, antibiotic abuse and stress play a large role in the development of asthma. All of these factors cause inflammation, but luckily one of the benefits of pineapple is that it can help to reduce through its detoxifying capabilities.
6. Helps Mental Health
Another one of the benefits of pineapple is that it helps improve your mood and helps fight depression and anxiety. Pineapple is a good source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is used by the body to produce enough serotonin, one of our main “happy hormones.” Consuming enough of this amino acid, in addition to other nutrients like B vitamins, is important to support your neurological system, for energy, and for the production of good mood hormones.
7. Helps Fight Cancer
In 2007, researchers published a groundbreaking article in the Plant Medical Journal about pineapple’s bromelain being found to be far more effective than the traditional chemo-agent used in the treatment of cancer.
In tests treating cancer in animals, bromelain was found to be more effective than 5-fluoracil (5-FU) when compared to an untreated control group. 5-FU has been used in the treatment of cancer for over 40 years, but its main problem is that it kills or irreversibly damages healthy cells and tissue as well as cancerous ones.
Bromelain was not only found to be more effective but was also many times safer than 5-FU. Natural compounds, such as bromelain, have selective cytotoxity and they are able to kill cancerous cells in a self-disassembly process called apoptosis, while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
Cytotoxity is when something is toxic to certain cells, and bromelain focuses on the cancerous cells only. No FDA approved cancer-treating drug on the market can yet emulate this process because chemo-toxic agents such as 5-FU do not behave like natural compounds.
8. Reduces Inflammation
The benefits of pineapple include the ability to help those suffering from arthritis and joint pain because the bromelain that is present can speed up healing associated with surgical procedures. It is also very useful for treating sporting injuries including sprains and can help counter pain.
Bromelain works on inflammation by blocking metabolites which cause swelling. It also acts to decrease swelling by activating a chemical in the blood that breaks down fibrin, thus leading to reduced swelling. Bromelain is often recommended to be taken before surgeries to speed healing time and decrease inflammation commonly associated with surgical procedures.
Recently a study was done on 100 mice who suffered from colitis, inflammation of the colon, and the results showed that long term dietary supplementation with fresh or unpasteurized frozen pineapple juice with active bromelain enzymes is safe and effectively decreases inflammation severity. (1)
Another study was done on patients who are suffering from sinusitis, which is the inflammation of the paranasal sinuses. This can be caused by an infection, an allergy or an autoimmune issue. The study showed that the bromelain found in pineapple caused a significantly faster recovery than standard therapy. (2)
9. Aids in Digestion
For digestion, eating pineapple serves as a powerful aid in breaking down proteins into peptides and amino acids. It can ease the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, acid reflux, and it helps the general digestive processes.
It’s also useful in helping to prevent autoimmune responses due to common food allergies. Studies conducted in Japan showed that eating pineapple helped those who had celiac disease, an allergy to the protein gluten that is found in wheat, barley and rye products, due to the presence of the bromelain enzyme.
Nutrition Benefits of Pineapple
A 1 cup serving of pineapple provides (in daily recommended values):
- 82 calories
- 1 gram protein
- 2 grams fiber
- 96 IU vitamin A (2 percent DV)
- 79 IU vitamin C (131 pecent DV)
- 30 MCG folate (7 percent DV)
Why is Pineapple so Healing?
The secret to the super healing power of pineapple comes from a protein-digesting enzyme called bromelain. In fact, pineapple is one of the richest sources of bromelain in the world.
But you won’t get the needed bromelain by upping your intake of pineapple; the bromelain you want the most is in the inedible stem of the plant, so taking a bromelain supplement is necessary to achieve the best results. Bromelain supplements are made using the extract taken from pineapple.
Bromelain is an enzyme, specifically a protease enzyme, found in the pineapple stem and fruit. This homeopathic remedy has been used for many years and works to break down proteins in order to form peptides and amino acids in the body. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling agent.
Bromelain is a natural extract that has been found to speed healing and acts as an anti-inflammatory medication- similarly to over the counter medications like aspirin and ibuprofen. Additionally when applied topically, the benefits of pineapple include its ability to help in healing cuts, burns, insect bites and to help dissipate bruising and other skin problems.
Additionally, recent studies have showed us that bromelain from pineapple helps stop lung metastasis in its tracks, which suggests that bromelain can be used to treat a wide variety of diseases. It can also help soothe and relax tense, inflamed muscles and connective tissue; this is why it is commonly used as a meat tenderizer. Most commonly bromelain is used to treat conditions including:
- ACL tears
- Arthritis and joint pain
- Autoimmune diseases
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Sinus infections
- Sprained ankles
Keep in mind that eating lots of fresh, juicy pineapples will not effectively provide a sufficient dose of treatment because most of the bromelain is found in the core and stem of the pineapple. These are the parts of the fruit that are the most inedible, so these enzymes are used to make homeopathic supplements of bromelain instead.
Bromelain supplements can be found in many forms, including tablets, capsules, powders and topical creams. Taking between 80 and 320 mg a day is considered a safe and effective dose. My favorite source of Bromelain is found in Wobenzym by Garden of Life.
It is believed that Christopher Columbus and his crew members were among the first few people from the European continent to have tasted pineapple. The fruit was imported and cultivated and then quickly became very popular. Members of the European royal families soon developed a liking for it. It then became available to the rich, the noble and the elite.
James Dole was an American industrialist who developed the pineapple industry in Hawaii. He became known as the “Pineapple King” because he made the fruit affordable for the everyday person. His goal was to have convenient canned pineapples in every grocery store in the country, which luckily today it is.
Pineapple is a drought-tolerant plant that grows five to eight feet tall. The pineapple plant bears fruit with a tough, spiky exterior that is around 12 inches long. A pineapple fruit can weigh up to eight pounds. Pineapple is both sweet and tart, and its fiber-like pectin gives the pineapple its chewy texture.
Pineapple is native to Paraguay and got its name from the Spanish word piña, meaning pinecone. It actually is not just one fruit, but 100-200 little separate fruitlets fused together. Indians moved pineapple northward, and it was discovered by the explorers who claimed the Americas back in 1492.
Because of the health benefits of pineapple, it quickly became popular on ships since it has a natural prevention against scurvy, a common health issue at the time. The bulk of the world’s pineapples today come from Southeast Asia, with Thailand being the biggest producer.
How to Use Pineapple
When choosing a pineapple, keep in mind that the heavier it is, the better; this means that it is ripe. Choose a pineapple that has dark green leaves; this is also a sign of ripeness. You can smell the pineapple to detect whether or not it is ripe. It should be fragrant and not musty.
Pineapple is available in your grocery store year round, but its peak season is from March to July. You can frequently find frozen pineapple in most major grocery stores, which is an easy way to add it to smoothies and other recipes.
When preparing a fresh pineapple, chop off the top and bottom, and then place it on a flat surface to slice off the rind (the outer skin). Once you remove the rind, slice the fruit into rings and remove the core, which will be harder than the meat of the fruit. You can store pineapple in your refrigerator after cutting it up for up to nine days.
To get the benefits of pineapple in your diet, you can eat pineapple by itself as a snack, or you can add it to both sweet and savory dishes. You can eat pineapple for dessert by adding it to ice cream or grilling the fruit, or you can add it to meals to boost the flavor and texture. Try making a salsa using pineapple, onions and cilantro.
This interesting mix of ingredients is delicious on top of chicken, shrimp or pork chops. Add pineapple to your own Asian stir-fry, or add it to a salad for some extra sweetness. You would be surprised how many dishes are awesome with the extra pop of pineapple’s sweet, tropical taste.
Benefits of Pineapple: Pineapple Recipes
To get this nutritious fruit into your everyday diet, try simply adding it to a smoothie. Here are some vitamin-packed smoothie recipes that call for the fruit in either fresh or frozen form, making it easy for you to get the benefits of pineapple any day of the week.
Kale is one of the most amazing superfoods! It’s packed full of vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and so many others! Try this Peachy Super Kale Shake recipe, which includes a cup of pineapple!
Total Time: 2 minutes
- 10 kale leaves
- 2 medjool dates
- 1 cup pineapple, frozen
- 1/2 cup strawberries, frozen
- 1 cup peaches, frozen
- 1 cup filtered water
- Blend everything until smooth.
Photo: Peachy Super Kale Shake Recipe / Dr. Axe
Most diseases today are due to inflammation, which requires a diet high in healing foods to combat this effect. Inflammation damages your cells and arterials walls and can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis and digestive disorders.
By reducing inflammation, your body is better able to heal from any disease. This Anti-Inflammatory Juice recipe is the perfect blend to help support your body’s natural defenses and reduce inflammation.
Total Time: 5 minutes
- 4 celery stalks
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1 cup pineapple
- 1/2 green apple
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 lemon
- 1 knob ginger
- Add all ingredients to vegetable juicer. Gently stir juice and consume immediately.
Photo: Anti-Inflammatory Juice Recipe / Dr. Axe
Coconut is a medium chain fatty acid that is easily digested and converted to energy instead of being stored as fat. It is extremely diverse and one of the healthiest foods you could eat! Try this Piña Colada Smoothie Recipe and indulge in the benefits of coconut!
Total Time: 2 minutes
- 10 oz. coconut milk
- 1-2 raw eggs
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
- 1/2 banana
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp chia seeds, ground
- Combine the ingredients in a high-speed blender.
Photo: Piña Colada Smoothie Recipe / Dr. Axe
Pineapple is not a commonly allergenic fruit, and because of the bromelain found in the fruit, it actually helps with digestion. Pineapple is packed with vitamin C. Taking in too much vitamin C is generally quite safe because it is a water-soluble vitamin and any excess is excreted through urine.
Just keep in mind that extremely high doses of vitamin C can possibly cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal pain, insomnia and headaches.
The bromelain that is found in pineapple may interact with some medications, and this is something that you can mention to your health care provider. This may be an issue with blood thinners, insomnia medications or antidepressants.
What is your favorite way to enjoy pineapple?
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