Pineapple: Proven Health Benefits, Calories, Juice Benefits

Pineapple: Proven Health Benefits, Calories, Juice Benefits

Pineapple is a delicious tropical fruit that is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and healthy nutrients. People have used pineapples for their anti-inflammatory properties, benefits to digestion, and to boost the immune system. Consuming more fresh pineapple chunks or pineapple juice can help you get your daily dose of vitamin C.

One reason why pineapple is so good for you is that it contains an enzyme called bromelain. This pineapple enzyme has been linked to reducing inflammation and pain, improving digestive disorders, and alleviating muscle soreness.

In this article, I will look at what scientific research has revealed as to the benefits of pineapple.

What is Pineapple?

Pineapple is a sweet fruit that originates in Central and South America. Pineapple (Ananas comosus) belongs to the Bromeliaceae species. The pineapple plant, stem and fruit contain the digestive enzyme bromelain. Explorers in the 17th century coined the phrase “pineapple” because it resembles pine cones.

Ripe pineapple fruit is yellow and juicy, and is rich in vitamin C, fiber, and other nutrients. People describe the taste of fresh pineapple chunks as having a sweet but tart taste.

The pineapple plant’s flowers produce berries that join together around the fruit’s core. The cone-like appearance of a pineapple is actually because of the individual fruitlets that join together around a central core and give pineapple a cylindrical shape.

Pineapple Uses and How to Include It in Your Diet

It is very easy to add more pineapple to your diet, especially as you can usually buy fresh pineapple all year round.

The easiest way to get the benefits of fresh pineapple is to slice it and then cut it into pineapple chunks. This can provide you with a tasty snack that is full of nutrients and antioxidants.

Or, you can extract pineapple juice and drink the juice fresh. Some people like adding crushed pineapple or pineapple portions to their favorite healthy detox smoothie. Crushed pineapple can also add a delicious sweet flavor to plain yogurt, cakes, ice cream, or other desserts.

You can also get much of the goodness of pineapple from canned pineapple. However, you should be careful about the sugar content, as sugar is often added to the pineapple juice.

Manufacturers usually use the pineapple stem to extract bromelain to produce supplements.

Pineapple Nutrition Facts

Pineapple is rich in many nutrients that are essential for a healthy diet. Pineapple is low in calories (50 calories in 100 g) but high in fiber and vitamins.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one cup of pineapple chunks (165 g) contains the following nutrients: (1)

  • 82 calories
  • 2.3 g fiber (9% RDI)
  • 79 g vitamin C (133% RDI)
  • 30 g folate (7% RDI)
  • 1 mg thiamin (9% RDI)
  • 2 mg vitamin B6 (9% RDI)
  • 5 mg manganese (77% RDI)
  • 6 mg calcium (2% RDI)
  • 20 mg magnesium (5% RDI)
  • 181 mg potassium (5% RDI)
  • 28 mg omega-3 fatty acids
  • 0.89 g protein
  • 16.25 g sugar

In addition to these vitamins and minerals, pineapple also contains traces of B-group vitamins, vitamins A and K, copper, zinc, phosphorus, and iron.

There are 6 g of carbohydrates in 100 g pineapple. A thin slice of pineapple contains 7 g of carbohydrates while a thick slice contains 11 g. One cup of pineapple chunks contains 21.65 g of carbohydrates. (1)

What about the nutritional value of pineapple juice? One glass of pineapple juice contains 42% of your RDI of vitamin C. (2)

How Many Calories in Pineapple

One whole pineapple contains about 450 calories. Even though this may seem a lot, chances are you will only eat a few slices of pineapple at a time. Three medium pineapple slices contain about 126 calories. (3)

Considering the fact that pineapple is packed full of vitamins and antioxidants, pineapple is a very healthy fruit.

What is Bromelain?

Bromelain is a naturally occurring mixture of enzymes found in the pineapple plant. According to the National Institutes of Health, bromelain is found in the pineapple fruit and stem. Bromelain is often sold as supplements to boost digestive health, lower inflammation, and treat osteoarthritis. (4)

Researchers say that it is possible to extract bromelain from each part of the pineapple plant. (5) Of course, the amount of bromelain in fresh pineapple is less than what bromelain supplements contain.

Bromelain is also used as a meat tenderizer and is often an ingredient in marinades.

One of the advantages of consuming fresh pineapple or freshly squeezed pineapple juice is its nutritional value. Fresh pineapple contains a lot of vitamin C, fiber, and other goodness that you can’t get in a supplement.

Health Benefits of Pineapple

Let’s look in more detail at the tremendous health benefits you can get from fresh pineapple.

Pineapples Promote Digestive Health

One of the principle reasons you may want to consume more fresh pineapple is because it boosts digestive health. At the end of the article you can find how to make delicious digestive detox smoothie with pineapple.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health say that many people take pineapple extract supplements to treat digestive disorders. Bromelain supplements can help improve poor digestion, reduce inflammation, and other gastrointestinal problems. (4)

A medical review of the benefits of pineapple and its extract reported that bromelain is a beneficial digestive enzyme. Using bromelain as a supplement can help to alleviate intestinal disorders that cause fatty stool and excess gas. (6)

There is some evidence to suggest that consuming fresh pineapple can also improve your digestive health.

A study on mice found that fresh pineapple juice can help reduce gastrointestinal inflammation. In the experiment, consuming pineapple juice that still contained bromelain (i.e., wasn’t boiled or pasteurized) had an anti-inflammatory effect in the intestines. This was enough to relieve some symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. (7)

Another reason why fresh pineapple benefits your digestion is that it contains fiber. Fresh pineapple chunks or pineapple juice with the pulp is a good source of dietary fiber. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that dietary fiber helps to improve bowel health, prevent constipation, and maintain a healthy weight. (27)

There are also delicious herbal teas that can improve your digestion.

Pineapples Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Pineapples and pineapple extract can help to reduce inflammation in your body.

Inflammation is connected with a number of chronic diseases. Any foods that have an anti-inflammatory effect can help prevent the development of serious diseases. (8)

Research into the therapeutic effect of bromelain has revealed that it can reduce inflammatory processes. Bromelain-containing products can help affect white blood cells in the body to produce an anti-inflammatory effect. (9)

Other laboratory research has shown that bromelain extracted from pineapple activates certain T cells. These are white blood cells that are important in helping the body fight disease. (28)

Pineapple Can Boost Your Immune System

Pineapple contains high levels of vitamin C that can help to keep your immune system healthy. For example, a glass of pineapple juice contains more than 40% of your vitamin C needs for the day.

However, scientific research has shown that it’s not just the number of vitamins in pineapple that strengthen your immune system.

Research into the therapeutic compounds in pineapple has found that bromelain has a powerful immune-boosting activity. (10)

Eating canned or fresh pineapple can also make you less susceptible to infection.

A study from 2014 found that school children who regularly consumed 280 g of canned pineapple were less likely to get infections. Researchers found that over a 9-week period, regular pineapple consumption increased the number of white blood cells. The children who ate more pineapple got less viral and bacterial respiratory infections. The researchers concluded that eating pineapple can “shorten the duration and incidence of infection.” (11)

Learn about other ways to give your immune system a boost using natural ingredients.

Pineapples Are Packed with Antioxidants

Another reason why fresh pineapple is good for you is that it is full of disease-fighting antioxidants.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that a diet rich in antioxidants is essential to stay healthy. Plant-based foods are the best source of antioxidants that help to protect your cells from DNA damage. (12)

The journal Food Research International reported that pineapple fruit is a rich source of phenolics (antioxidants). (13) Other studies into the antioxidant potential of pineapple fruit have identified that it also contains flavonoids and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). (14)

Pineapples are just one of the many natural antioxidants that can improve your health.

Pineapples Can Help Relieve Osteoarthritis Symptoms

The anti-inflammatory effect of pineapples can help relieve the pain and discomfort of osteoarthritis.

Although it may not be possible to eat enough pineapples to get its anti-inflammatory benefits for osteoarthritis, bromelain supplements can help relieve joint pain.

A review of clinical studies published in 2004 found that bromelain can help to lessen inflammation and pain in joints. Various studies have shown that taking 540 mg of bromelain per day can have a positive effect on osteoarthritis. (15)

Other studies on humans have shown that taking 400 mg per day of bromelain can help relieve pain associated with knee osteoarthritis.

Even the Arthritis Foundation recommends taking pineapple extract supplements in the form of bromelain. Their advice was based on studies showing that bromelain has a similar effect to anti-inflammatory pain-relieving drugs. (16)

Some small clinical studies have shown that bromelain can help to relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis. (17)

There are many other foods that help reduce inflammation if you have arthritis.

Pineapples Help Protect Eyesight

The rich content of antioxidants in pineapples can help protect your eyesight from macular degeneration – a severe form of vision loss.

One cup of pineapple chunks contains over 130% of your vitamin C daily requirements. Pineapple also contains beta-carotene and vitamin A – all of which are associated with good eyesight.

A report from 2010 on the benefits of pineapple fruit found that eating fresh pineapple can lower your risk of macular degeneration. The research suggested that eating 3 portions of fresh fruit a day like pineapple can help to protect your eyesight. (18)

Find out which other foods can help to improve your eyesight.

Pineapples Can Improve Cardiovascular Health and Improve Blood Circulation

Regularly consuming fresh fruits and vegetables is associated with good cardiovascular health. The fact that pineapple is rich in bromelain means that it is an excellent tropical fruit to boost your heart health.

According to a review of the medicinal properties of pineapple, the bromelain content in pineapple has cardiovascular benefits. Various clinical studies have shown that bromelain can help to prevent cardiovascular diseases. For example, bromelain can stop red blood cells clumping together into clots. Bromelain can also strengthen the heart muscle. (19)

Find out how to improve your blood circulation to help keep your cardiovascular system working properly.

Pineapples Have Anticancer Properties

Pineapple contains many compounds and antioxidants that could be effective in cancer therapy. Very often, cancer is linked to the effects of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.

Research into the benefits of pineapple has revealed that it has anticancer potential. A review in the journal Cancer Letters reported that bromelain has the potential for use in cancer treatment. In test-tube experiments, bromelain can kill off cancer cells and boost cell immunity. (20)

Medical studies have shown that pineapple extracts could help the immune system fight cancer more effectively. (20)

Some research has shown that pineapple stem extracts can help to destroy cancer cells in colorectal cancer. (21)

The International Journal of Oncology reported in 2016 that bromelain from pineapples has anti-tumor activities. Some trials have shown that bromelain can inhibit bile duct cancer cells. (22)

Similar results have been shown in laboratory experiments on breast cancer and gastrointestinal cancer. (23, 24)

Of course, it is important to remember that the anticancer effect of pineapple extracts have only been proven in the lab. More research has to be done to see how these results could be effective in treating cancer in humans.

Pineapples May Reduce Uric Acid Levels and Help with Kidney Stones and Gout

Drinking a glass of fresh pineapple juice per day or eating a cup of pineapple chunks could help prevent kidney stones.

Some kidney stones form when there is a buildup of uric acid in the blood. However, a review of the benefits of plants in medicine found that pineapples actually lower uric acid levels in the blood. (25)

Also find out how to use apple cider vinegar to dissolve kidney stones naturally.

The beneficial effect of fresh pineapple on lowering uric acid may mean that it is an excellent fruit to eat if you have gout. In fact, scientific research has suggested that ancient treatments for gout may be in harmony with modern medicine. For example, foods high in bromelain can help to treat the underlying cause of gout. (26) And indeed pineapple is one of the best foods mentioned in my article about natural treatments for gout.

Pineapple May Reduce Coughs and Cold Symptoms

When it comes to treating persistent cough and cold, pineapple juice can soothe a sore throat and help to cough out all the stubborn mucus. One study that compared over-the-counter cough syrup and pineapple extract showed that pineapple was five times more effective. Patients recovered 4.8 times quicker when taking the natural pineapple remedy, and had an overall improvement in their cold symptoms. (27)

In 2010, a group of Indian scientists looked into different treatments for tuberculosis. They discovered that a mixture of pineapple juice, raw honey, pepper and salt helped to dissolve the mucus in the patient’s lungs.

When you reach for pineapple juice as your healing modality, it is important to get unprocessed natural juice. Store-bought brands often contain a lot of sugar and not much real fruit. If you have a juicer at home, the best option is to make your own fresh juice. Just follow this simple recipe:

How to make homemade pineapple syrup for coughs

  • 1 cup of fresh pineapple juice
  • A quarter of a cup of fresh lemon juice
  • Some fresh ginger
  • A tablespoon of raw organic honey
  • Half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • You can also add some turmeric (this will help with your digestion)

Mix all the ingredients and drink two to three times a day. Now you have your own cough remedy with no toxic chemicals added.

Tips for Selecting and Storing Pineapples

1. Look for pineapples that are heavy for their size and have dark green leaves, and eat them within 2-3 days for best results.

2. Choose Pineapples that don’t have soft spots, wrinkled skin and bruises which may indicate that the pineapple is past its prime.

3. For the most antioxidants, choose fully ripened pineapple (pineapple stops ripening as soon as it is picked). A sweet scent is generally considered the most important aspect of choosing a ripe pineapple.

4. A whole pineapple can be left at room temperature for one or two days before serving. After two days, if you are still not ready to eat it, you should store it in the refrigerator where it will keep longer (a whole pineapple can last up to 2 weeks, and a cut pineapple will last for up to one week).

5. Once you cut the pineapple, you should store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

6. Although pineapple can be frozen for up to 6 months, this process greatly affects its flavor.

Pineapple and Papaya Digestive Smoothie Recipe

This is one of my favorite detox smoothies that has many health benefits. This detox smoothie consists of pineapple and papaya which contain digestive enzymes that help to improve digestion.

Papaya enzymes are called papain and are extracted from the leaves and fruit of the papaya plant. The papain also acts as a diuretic, and has anti-microbial and anti-ulcerative properties. As such, papaya enzymes are believed to help relieve a variety of gastrointestinal complaints, as well as stomach ulcers. These are added to the bromelain in pineapple for added benefits.

The plain bio yogurt in this recipe also aids digestion as it contains “friendly bacteria” that are naturally present in the digestive system, and can help boost the immune system and promote a healthy digestive tract.

Now let’s get to the detox smoothie recipe:

2 slices pineapple
1/2 papaya, cubed
2 tablespoons plain bio yogurt
1/2 lemon (optional)
1 sprig of mint

Put all the ingredients in a blender and whiz until smooth. You can add a little bit of water if you want a thinner consistency. Enjoy this detox smoothie after any meal to help your digestive system to do its important role.

A Few Things to Consider

Pineapple juice has high sugar content as there are 10 g of sugars in 100 g of pineapple. Pineapples also have a medium glycemic index, so be aware of it if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

Pineapple fruit may not contain enough therapeutic doses of bromelain for certain conditions. If you consider taking bromelain supplement consult with your physician first, as supplements may have side effects or interact with medications. Bromelain is available in tablet or capsule form for use by mouth.

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