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9 Proven Health Benefits of Pineapple, Plus Recipes!

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Benefits of pineapple - Dr. Axe

We all know pineapple as a delicious tropical fruit that garnishes our drinks, but did you know that it also provides a good dose of vitamin C, vitamin B1, potassium and manganese, in addition to other special compounds and antioxidants that help prevent disease formation?

What are the benefits of eating pineapple, according to the latest research?

Used widely around the world as a natural remedy for everything from indigestion to allergies, this fruit is filled with phytonutrients that work as well as many medicines do. Benefits of pineapple include protecting against cardiovascular disease, improving fertility and reducing 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 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. Studies show it also acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling agent.

Additionally, pineapple is a source of phytochemicals, including flavonoids and tannins.

A pineapple fruit 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 pineapple plant bears fruit with a tough, spiky exterior that is around 12 inches long.

The pineapple tree 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.

Where do pineapples grow?

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

Indians moved this tropical fruit northward, and it was discovered by the explorers who claimed the Americas in 1492. 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.

Pineapple Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA, 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
  • 16 grams sugar
  • 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)

This fruit also contains some vitamin A, vitamin K, choline, betaine, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

Bromelain in Pineapple

Unfortunately, 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.

Bromelain supplements are made using the extract taken mostly from pineapple cores. This enzyme may help 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 bromelain include its ability to help in healing cuts, burns, 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 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 treating 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.

Top 9 Benefits of Pineapple

1. Rich Source of Immune-Boosting Vitamin C

What are the benefits of fresh pineapple?

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 function and minimize coughs, colds and flu symptoms.

Children and adults who consume this fruit regularly may experience protection against infections, both viral and bacterial.

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.

Vitamin C can also help 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 to lower your risk of 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 diet.

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 to 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. Improves Fertility

What do pineapples do for you sexually?

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. Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease

Pineapple supports heart health because of its fiber, potassium, vitamin C and antioxidant content. One study conducted on rats found that one of the benefits of pineapple juice is that it has cardioprotective abilities.

The study concluded that pineapple juice can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and help establish digestion and absorption.

High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density, and reduction in the formation of kidney stones. Fruits that are high in potassium can also help lower high blood pressure.

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. Prevents Asthma

The beta-carotene that is found in plant foods like pineapples may help to 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. Aids Mental Health

Another one of the benefits of pineapple is that its nutrients 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. Helps Fight Cancer

According to recent studies, bromelain possesses some anticancerous activities and promotes apoptotic cell death. Bromelain has been found to have selective cytotoxity and may help to 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 who 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 a significantly faster recovery than standard therapy.

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 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 fiber, 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 Pick 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 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 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 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.

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 would 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, including one that provides some protein and fat.

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.

Pineapple 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 one hand, consider using frozen pineapple instead.

Try these smoothie and juice recipes:

Want some other healthy pineapple recipe ideas?

Precautions and Side Effects

Can you eat pineapple every day? Yes, but of course overdoing it may not be the best idea.

What are the side effects of eating pineapple? Is pineapple ever bad for your stomach?

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.

Final Thoughts

  • What’s so impressive about pineapple nutrition? It is the best source of the enzyme called bromelain, which helps with digestion, has anti-inflammatory effects and provides many other benefits.
  • Vitamin C is the most abundant vitamin in this fruit, while antioxidants like flavonoids and tannins are also in it.
  • Some of the positive effects of pineapple include supporting skin health, digestion, mental health, allergies, asthma and cardiovascular health.
  • According to studies, pineapple health benefits include providing fiber and potassium, helping normalize blood sugar and blood pressure, decreasing constipation, supporting fertility, fighting cancer, reducing inflammation of the bowels, and more.

Read Next: Mangosteen’s Cancer-Fighting, Heart-Boosting Power


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