Pineapples are nutritionally packed members of the bromeliad family. This delightful tropical fruit is high in the enzyme bromelain and the antioxidant vitamin C, both of which plays a major role in the body’s healing process.
Pineapples are rich of bromelain. Bromelain is a natural anti-inflammatory that has many health benefits and encourages healing. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, bromelain is very effective in treating bruises, sprains and strains by reducing swelling, tenderness and pain. This powerful anti-inflammatory effect can also help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and reduce postoperative swelling. Additionally, the bromelain contained in fresh pineapple can relieve indigestion. This enzyme helps break down the amino acid bonds in proteins, which promotes good digestion.
Bromelain found in fresh pineapple, which has been used in studies to determine it’s effectiveness in alleviating joint pain, arthritis, reduce inflammation, inhibit tumor growth and shorten recovery time following plastic surgery.
Nutritional breakdown of pineapples
One cup of fresh pineapple chunks contain approximately 82 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 2 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of total carbohydrate (including 16 grams of sugar and 2.3 grams of fiber) and 1 gram of protein.
One cup of fresh pineapple chunks provides 131% of your vitamin C needs for the day, 2% of vitamin A needs, 2% of calcium and 2% of iron.
Pineapple is also a source of important vitamins and minerals such as thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, manganese and potassium and antioxidants and polyphenols, such as beta-carotene.
Possible health benefits of consuming fresh pineapples
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like pineapples decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.
Pineapples help age-related macular degeneration: A higher intake of all fruits (3 or more servings per day) has also been shown to decrease risk of and progression of age-related macular degeneration.
Asthma prevention: The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients. One of these nutrients is beta-carotene, found in plant foods like pineapple, mangoes, papaya, apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, pumpkin and carrots.
Blood pressure: Increasing potassium intake by consuming high potassium fruits and vegetables can help with lowering blood pressure. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, fewer than 2% of US adults meet the daily 4700 mg recommendation.1
Also of note, a high potassium intake is associated with a 20% decreased risk of dying from all causes.1
Cancer: As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C, pineapples can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.
Diets rich in beta-carotene may also play a protective role against prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition and has been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population.
According to the American Cancer Society:
“there are studies suggesting that bromelain [found in pineapple] and other such enzymes may be used with standard cancer treatment to help reduce some side effects (such as mouth and throat inflammation due to radiation treatments).”
Diabetes: Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. One medium pineapple provides about 13 grams of fiber.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 g/day for women and 30-38 g/day for men.
Digestion: Pineapples, because of their fiber and water content, help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.
Fertility: Antioxidant-rich diets have been shown to improve fertility. Because free radicals also can damage the reproductive system, foods with high antioxidant activity like pineapples that battle free radicals are recommended for those trying to conceive. The antioxidants in pineapple such as vitamins C, beta-carotene and the vitamins and minerals and copper, zinc and folate have properties that affect both male and female fertility.5
Healing and Inflammation: Some studies have shown that bromelain, the enzyme found in pineapples, can reduce swelling, bruising, healing time, and pain associated with injury and surgical intervention. Bromelain is currently being used to treat and reduce inflammation from tendinitis, sprains, strains, and other minor muscle injuries as well as swelling related to ear, nose and throat surgeries or trauma.9
Heart health: The fiber, potassium and vitamin C content in pineapple all support heart health.
In one study, those who consumed 4069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1000 mg per day).1
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.1
Skin: The antioxidant vitamin C, when eaten in its natural form (as in a pineapple) or applied topically, can help to fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution, reduce wrinkles and improve overall skin texture. Vitamin C also plays a vital role in the formation of collagen, the support system of your skin.
Eye Care: Eating fruit may be the best way to protect your eyesight. Findings reported in the June, 2004 Archives of Ophthalmology showed that eating three or more servings of fruit a day lowers the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the primary cause of vision loss in older adults. The study involved 110,000 men and women. Researchers evaluated their consumption of fruits, vegetables, carotenoids, and antioxidant vitamins A, C and E on early and advanced macular degeneration. Interestingly, intakes of vegetables, vitamins and carotenoids were not significantly related to the disease. However, fruit intake was shown to be highly protective against development of the more severe form of the disease.
Take note: Potential health risks of consuming so much pineapples
Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High potassium foods should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.
Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.
Those with gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) may experience an increase in symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation when consuming highly acidic foods, however individual reactions vary.
It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.