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9 Proven Health Benefits of Pineapple, Plus Recipes!

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Pineapple - Dr. Axe

We all know pineapple as a delicious tropical fruit that garnishes our drinks, but did you know that there are also so many pineapple benefits due to its hefty dose of vitamins and minerals? This tasty fruit provides you with vitamin C, vitamin B1, potassium and manganese, in addition to other special compounds and antioxidants that studies suggest offer protection against disease formation.

Used widely around the world as a natural remedy for everything from indigestion to allergies, pineapple is filled with phytonutrients, as well as the enzyme bromelain, that can help enhance digestion, protect against cardiovascular disease, support fertility and potentially reduce inflammation.

On top of its health perks, it is easy to find, inexpensive, versatile in recipes and available nearly year-round.

What Is Pineapple?

Pineapple (species name Ananas comosus) is a tropical plant with an edible fruit. It is considered the most economically significant plant in the Bromeliaceae plant family.

Much of the healing power of this fruit comes from a protein-digesting enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme, specifically a protease enzyme, found in the pineapple stem, especially the core, and in lesser amounts in the edible fruit.

Believe it or not, this fruit has been used as a homeopathic remedy for many years, as compounds within it work to break down proteins into smaller peptides and amino acids in the body. Studies show it also acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling agent.

Additionally, pineapple is a source of phytochemicals, including bioflavonoids and tannins, which help fight oxidative stress that contributes to accelerated aging.

Where do pineapples grow?

The tree that pineapples grow on are native to Paraguay. The fruit 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.

The pineapple plant bears fruit with a tough, spiky exterior that is around 12 inches long. A pineapple can weigh up to eight pounds and produces fruit that is both sweet and tart, containing fiber-like pectin that gives the fruit its chewy texture.

It is a drought-tolerant plant that grows five to eight feet tall.

The bulk of the world’s pineapples today come from Southeast Asia, with Thailand the biggest producer.

Because of the many health benefits of pineapple, the fruit quickly became popular on ships since it offers natural prevention against scurvy, a common health issue at the time of sea exploration.

Nutrition Facts

Is it good to eat pineapple every day?

As you can see from the pineapple nutrition data below, this fruit is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, manganese, thiamine and B6. This makes it a great daily addition to your diet, as long as you don’t overdo it (which may impact blood sugar levels negatively).

It also contains some vitamin A, vitamin K, choline, betaine, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium, as well as a number of volatile compounds in small amounts that give it its signature taste.

Recent studies have also found that there at least 30 nutritive and bioactive compounds within pineapple juice, including various types of sugars, polyphenols and organic acids (mainly citric and L-malic acids).

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one cup (about 165 grams) of raw pineapple nutrition contains approximately:

  • 82.5 calories
  • 21.6 grams carbohydrates
  • 0.9 grams protein
  • 0.2 grams fat
  • 2.3 grams fiber
  • 78.9 milligrams vitamin C (131 percent DV)
  • 1.5 milligrams manganese (76 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams thiamine (9 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams vitamin B6 (9 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams copper (9 percent DV)
  • 29.7 micrograms folate (7 percent DV)
  • 19.8 milligrams magnesium (5 percent DV)
  • 180 milligrams potassium (5 percent DV)
  • 0.8 milligrams niacin (4 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams pantothenic acid (4 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams riboflavin (3 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligrams iron (3 percent DV)

Bromelain in Pineapple

Pineapple is the single best source of the compound called bromelain. Bromelain supplements are made using the extract taken mostly from pineapple cores.

This enzyme may help speed healing and acts as an anti-inflammatory, similarly to over-the-counter medications like aspirin and ibuprofen.

Unfortunately, though, you won’t get bromelain by upping your intake of fresh 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.

Additionally, when applied topically, the benefits of bromelain include its ability to help in treating acne, cuts, burns and insect bites — and to help dissipate bruising and other skin problems.

Recent studies also show that bromelain helps stop lung metastasis in its tracks, which suggests that it can be used to treat a wide variety of diseases.

It can also help decrease pain and soothe and relax tense, inflamed muscles and connective tissue. This is why it is commonly used as a meat tenderizer.

Research suggests that bromelain benefits include hepling treat conditions such as:

  • ACL tears
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis and joint pain
  • Asthma
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Sinus infections
  • Sprained ankles
  • Tendonitis

Bromelain supplements can be found in many forms, including tablets, capsules, powders and topical creams. Taking between 80 and 320 milligrams a day is considered a safe and effective dose.

Related: Pawpaw Fruit: 8 Reasons to Add This Antioxidant Powerhouse to Your Diet

Benefits

What are the benefits of eating pineapple? Below is more about pineapple benefits, including its ability to support a strong immune system, ease indigestion and support reproductive health.

1. Rich Source of Immune-Boosting Vitamin C

While there are relatively few pineapple calories in a cup, one serving has a whopping 131 percent of your daily value of the antioxidant vitamin C. Vitamin C is commonly used to support immune system function and minimize coughs, colds and flu symptoms.

Studies suggest that children and adults who consume fruits high in vitamin C regularly may experience protection against infections, both viral and bacterial, as well as greater protection against cancer.

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.

What is collagen? It is the main protein in the body responsible for maintaining healthy blood vessels and organs.

Vitamin C can also help with skin problems, like a sunburn or dried and irritated skin.

You can add pineapple to homemade body scrubs to get these benefits. Because of the vitamin C content in it, 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 may help lower your risk of chronic diseases, including colorectal cancer. Fiber can also lower your blood glucose levels.

Type 2 diabetics are encouraged to consume whole fruits and veggies, according to the American Diabetes Association, for their fiber and essential nutrients. They may show signs of improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels when including these foods in their diets.

Are pineapples good for weight loss? Fiber is the reason there may be pineapple benefits for weight loss.

Because of its high fiber content and volume, one of the benefits of pineapple is that it can help make you feel full with little calories.

Can pineapple reduce belly fat? It can help prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract, which means it’s helpful for reducing a bloated stomach.

3. May Help Improve Fertility

What do pineapples do for you sexually? What does pineapple do for a woman’s reproductive health?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 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 are recommended for people who are trying to conceive.

The antioxidants in this fruit, such as vitamin C, beta-carotene and the other vitamins and minerals that are present, including copper, affect both male and female fertility. In terms of pineapple benefits for men, 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.

Similarly, benefits of eating pineapple for a woman include reducing inflammation and supporting connective tissue healing.

Another unusual benefit of pineapple? As CBS News describes, eating this fruit may boost sexual confidence by making bodily odors and fluids have a more pleasant smell.

4. Helps Protect Against Cardiovascular Disease and Obesity

The benefits of pineapple extend to heart health because of its potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants. Studies conducted on both humans and animals have found that one of the benefits of pineapple juice is that it has cardioprotective abilities.

High fruit intake is known to have disease-preventing effects, while high potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and stroke; protection against loss of muscle mass; preservation of bone mineral density; and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.

Additionally, studies have found that pineapple juice may have beneficial effects on body weight, body mass index (BMI), body fat accumulation, liver fat deposition and blood lipids due its impact on levels of hormones that regulate hunger and obesity. It’s been shown that pineapple juice supplementation may help significantly decrease insulin and have anti-obesity effects, which can lower the risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Pineapples also help 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. May Help Prevent Asthma

The beta-carotene that is found in plant foods like pineapples may help lower the risk of respiratory inflammation and 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 reduce inflammation through its detoxifying capabilities.

Pineapple Benefits

6. Provides Nutrients that Aid in Mental Health

A 2020 study found that consumption of vegetables and fruits that have a high content of nutrients may be of importance in the case of preventing depressive disorders.

Nutrients such as carbohydrates and antioxidants found in pineapple may help improve your mood and fight depression and anxiety. It is a good source of the amino acid tryptophan, which studies show 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. May Help Fight Cancer

According to recent studies, bromelain possesses anticancerous activities and promotes apoptotic cell death. Bromelain has been found to have selective cytotoxity and may help kill cancerous cells in a self-disassembly process called apoptosis, while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

8. Reduces Inflammation

The benefits of pineapple include the ability to help those suffering from arthritis and joint pain. This is due to bromelain, which has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

It is also very useful for treating sporting injuries, including sprains, and can help counter pain.

Bromelain works on inflammation by blocking metabolites that cause swelling. It also decreases 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.

A study done at Duke University Medical Center that was conducted on 100 mice that suffered from colitis (inflammation of the colon) showed that long-term dietary supplementation with fresh or unpasteurized frozen pineapple juice with active bromelain enzymes is safe and effectively decreases inflammation severity.

Another study was done on patients who suffer 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 pineapples caused significantly faster recovery than standard therapy.

9. Aids 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 and acid reflux, and it helps the general digestive processes.

Does pineapple make you poop? While it doesn’t typically have laxative effects, it provides water and electrolytes (like most fruits and veggies do) that can aid in regularity.

Bromelain also seems useful in helping prevent autoimmune responses due to common food allergies. Studies have found evidence that eating pineapple may help 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.

Related: Top 11 Health Benefits of Watermelon (+ Recipes)

How to Cut and Use

Pineapple is available in your grocery store year-round, but its peak season is from March to July. You can frequently find frozen pineapple chunks in most major grocery stores, which is an easy way to add it to smoothies and other recipes.

Choosing and Preparing

When choosing a pineapple, keep in mind that the heavier it is, the better, since heaviness means that it is ripe. Choose one that has dark green leaves — this is also a sign of ripeness.

You can also smell the fruit to detect whether or not it is ripe. It should be fragrant and not musty.

Here’s how to cut a pineapple: 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 or chunks and remove the core, which is harder than the meat of the fruit.

You can store pineapple chunks in your refrigerator after cutting it up for up to nine days, or freeze them to use later.

How to Use Pineapple

To get the benefits of pineapple in your diet, you can eat it by itself as a snack, or you can add it to both sweet and savory dishes. You can eat this fruit for dessert by adding it to ice cream or grilling it, 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 it to your own Asian stir-fry, or add it to a salad for some extra sweetness. You’ll be surprised how many dishes are awesome with the extra pop of pineapple’s sweet, tropical taste.

What is the best time to eat pineapple? Is it OK to eat pineapple in the morning? Can pineapple be eaten at night?

You can enjoy this fruit any time of day, whether it’s with breakfast or dessert. Since it provides carbohydrates and natural sugar, it’s a good thing to have as a pre-workout snack for some energy.

Is it good to eat pineapple on an empty stomach?

As long as this doesn’t cause any indigestion, then it is fine. However, if the acid in pineapples gives you a stomachache when you eat it alone, try having it with a bigger meal.

Should you drink water after eating pineapple?

Pineapple itself is hydrating, since it contains a lot of water (like all fruit). However, drinking water with high-fiber foods is a good idea for improving digestion.

Keep in mind that, as mentioned above, eating lots of fresh pineapple or drinking pineapple juice will not effectively provide a sufficient dose of treatment because most of the bromelain is found in the core and stem of the fruit. These are the parts that are the most inedible, so these enzymes are used to make homeopathic supplements of bromelain instead.

Related: Proteolytic Enzymes Reduce Inflammation and Boost Immunity

Recipes

One of the easiest ways to benefit from pineapple and fresh pineapple juice is to add some to a vitamin-packed smoothie. If you don’t have any fresh pineapple on hand, consider using frozen pineapple instead.

Try these smoothie and juice recipes:

Want some other healthy pineapple recipe ideas so you can take advantage of the benefits of pineapple? Here you go:

  • Low-sugar pineapple upside down cake, which can be sweetened with pineapple juice, banana and stevia
  • Pineapple pizza with cauliflower pizza crust
  • Gluten-free pineapple coffee cake made with coconut flour
  • Grilled pineapple skewers on the barbecue
  • Pineapple salsa with tomatoes and jalapenos
  • Stir-fried veggies and pineapple chicken (similar to orange chicken)
  • Pineapple casserole, made with sprouted flour or whole grain bread, coconuts, pecans and coconut sugar
  • Pineapple fried rice with cauliflower or brown rice, veggies and eggs

Risks and Side Effects

Why might pineapple be bad for you? It is not a commonly allergenic fruit, and because of the bromelain, it actually helps with digestion.

However, pineapple is packed with vitamin C, and while vitamin C is generally quite safe because it is a water-soluble vitamin and any excess is excreted through urine, eating large quantities can possibly cause some side effects. These may include 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 if you take medications, including blood thinners, insomnia medications or antidepressants.

Conclusion

  • Benefits of pineapple (Ananas comosus) include the fact that it’s high in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C for immune system support and potassium for heart health.
  • It’s also the best source of the enzyme called bromelain, which helps with digestion and has anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Vitamin C is the most abundant vitamin in this fruit, while antioxidants like flavonoids and tannins within also help fight oxidative stress.
  • Some of the positive effects of pineapple include helping normalize blood sugar and blood pressure, decreasing constipation, supporting fertility, fighting cancer, reducing inflammation of the bowels, and more.
Josh Axe

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