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Pineapple is a tropical fruit grown in the Philippines, India, China, Kenya, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Used medicinally by many cultures, pineapple contains the active compound bromelain. Several studies have reported the beneficial uses of bromelain, and it is also available as a food supplement. (1)
Nutritional Profile of Pineapple
One cup of pineapple contains only 83 calories, 22 g of carbohydrates, 2.3 g of fiber, and 141.9 g of water.
It is rich in vitamins including B1 (0.13 mg, which is 11% of the daily requirement), B2 (0.053 mg, which is 4% of the daily value), B3 (0.825 mg, which is 5% of the daily value), and B6 (0.185 mg, which is 11% of the daily value).
It also has 78.9 mg of vitamin C, which is 88% of the daily value, and 29.7 mcg of folate, which is 7% of the daily value. It is also rich in minerals such as copper (0.18 mg, which is 20% of the daily value), potassium (179.9 mg, which is 4% of the daily value), and magnesium (19.8 mg, which is 5% of the daily requirement). (2)
Health Benefits of Pineapple
Here are some of the health benefits that pineapple has to offer.
1. Facilitates digestion
Bromelain is one of the few enzymes that are able to break apart protein to make its digestion easier. (3) This is useful in people who suffer from pancreatic insufficiency, where the pancreas cannot produce enough enzymes. Bromelain is used as a digestive enzyme in such cases. (4)
In addition, the fiber in pineapple promotes diversity of gut microorganisms and also adds bulk to the stool, easing its movement along the colon. (5)
Bromelain is also useful in the treatment of diarrhea induced by E. coli infections. (1)
2. Fights inflammation
3. Can be used for weight maintenance
Pineapple with its high water and fiber content also brings about early satiety that is crucial to the avoidance of overeating.
In an animal study, pineapple juice was useful in reducing obesity due to a high-fat diet. It managed cholesterol levels and reduced weight gain, the stored fat in the liver, and the number of fat cells. (8)
4. May support heart health
Pineapple has been shown to reduce chest pain that occurs when some parts of the heart do not receive enough oxygen. It also improves blood flow to the heart. (1)
Bromelain supplements have been known to reduce risk factors for heart diseases. (1) In addition, the polyphenols and flavonoids in pineapple exert antioxidant effects and are useful in reducing the risk of heart diseases. (9)
5. Boosts immunity
Additionally, vitamin C is a strong immune booster. (10) As pineapple has a large vitamin C content, consumption of the fruit as part of the daily diet can be very effective in keeping you safe from common infections.
6. May bring relief to sinusitis
Bromelain may ease symptoms of sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, and rhinosinusitis. (3)
It is suggested to minimize congestion, ease breathing, and suppress coughing. It has also been used as a therapeutic agent for sinus and nasal swelling following an ear, nose, or throat surgery by the German Commission. (3)
7. May improve arthritis
8. Good for the skin
Furthermore, bromelain has been proven to be beneficial in the treatment of acne as it acts as an antimicrobial agent. Its antioxidant capacity can also be used to remove free radicals from the skin and keep it healthy. (13)
Since pineapple is rich in vitamin C and bromelain, including a cup of this fruit in your daily diet can be beneficial for your skin.
9. Speeds recovery after surgery
Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about drinking pineapple juice leading up to the period of surgery and during the recovery period to hasten healing. It is suggested to reduce inflammation, swelling, and bruising. (3)
Bromelain is also used topically to remove damaged cells and tissues in burns and wounds. Its analgesic effect is comparable to that of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and reduces the need for repeated use of anesthetics. (3)
10. May support pregnancy and childbirth
Pineapple is rich in vitamins and minerals that can support a healthy pregnancy and prevent birth abnormalities in babies. (14)
Folate, copper, and vitamin C are all linked to a healthy progression of pregnancy.
In many folk medicines, bromelain is used to induce labor. (15) Animal studies and clinical trials show that pineapple extracts may have uterine-stimulating properties, (15) making pineapple a safe and natural way to induce labor close to the date of delivery.
11. May reduce the risk of cancer
The rich antioxidant profile of pineapple makes it a great adjunct to the treatment plan for cancer.
Bromelain can interfere with the capacity of healthy cells to turn cancerous. Test-tube studies done on human and mouse cells have shown that bromelain can also inhibit the growth and progression of cancer cells. (3)
However, human studies have been lacking, and stronger evidence is needed to establish the efficacy of pineapple as a protective agent against cancer.
How to Consume Pineapples
Pineapple is mainly consumed as a fruit either by itself or along with other fruits in a fruit salad or smoothie. Pineapple juice is also favored by many. It is generally safe to consume up to 1 cup of pineapple or 250 ml of pineapple juice each day.
Bromelain supplements are also available, though it is better to consult a doctor or physician before including any natural supplements in your diet.
Precautions to Consider
When consuming pineapple, take the following precautions:
- Eating large quantities of pineapple (one fruit per day) can cause cuts and bleeding in the mouth and tongue.
- People suffering from acid reflux should avoid consuming pineapple or should consult a doctor beforehand.
- Bromelain has anticoagulant properties, which interfere with the formation of blood clots. (16) It is sometimes referred to as a “blood thinner,” so don’t consume pineapple or its supplements if you are taking blood-thinning medications.
Most-Asked Questions About Pineapples
Can I consume pineapple throughout my pregnancy?
Eating 1 cup of pineapple is generally safe. However, as bromelain is also used as an abortifacient (a substance that brings about abortion), be careful not to overconsume it.
Can people with diabetes consume pineapple?
Eating the recommended amount of pineapple per day (1 cup) as part of a healthy balanced diet is a safe practice. However, as the fruit has high sugar content, overconsumption must be strictly avoided.
Pineapple is another fruit in your fruit bowl that can be a beneficial agent in the fight against many diseases. Right from preventing heart diseases to lowering cholesterol levels and boosting immunity, pineapple can do it all.
Used to speed up the healing process after surgery, pineapple is also beneficial for the skin and may reduce the symptoms of sinusitis. It also contains plenty of nutrients that are needed by a pregnant woman and can induce labor.
If consumed in the right amounts, pineapple can also be used as an adjunct in the fight against cancer.