Health Benefits of Pineapple
Pineapple is a large tropical fruit with a spiky, tough skin and sweet insides. When European explorers came across it in South America in the 17th century, they called it a pineapple because of its pinecone appearance. The scaly bumps on the outside are called "eyes." Slice it open, and you'll find bright yellow flesh that's both sweet and tart.
For centuries, pineapples were so rare that only very wealthy people could afford to buy them. Some people even rented the exotic fruit to display at dinner parties. Today, they grow in tropical and subtropical countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and China. Grocers and markets carry them all over the world.
You might not notice when you buy one at the store, but there are different types of pineapples. In the U.S., the two most popular are the cylinder-shaped "Smooth Cayenne" with small spiky leaves and the "Extra Sweet" variety, which scientists created in a lab in Hawaii.
One cup of fresh pineapple chunks has:
- Calories: 82 grams : 0.89 grams : 0.20 grams
- Carbohydrates: 22 grams
- Fiber: 2.3 grams
Pineapple Health Benefits
The vitamins and minerals in pineapple could help shorten viral and bacterial infections and strengthen your bones. There's also a little evidence that pineapple may help prevent cancer and even help fertility by improving the quality of sperm.
Studies of bromelain supplements, not actual pineapple, show that it may help with:
Vitamins and minerals
Pineapple is high in vitamin C, which helps your immune system -- the body's defense against germs -- keep you healthy. It also has:
- Vitamins A, B6, E, and K
In some cultures, pineapple is a medicinal plant. That's because it has a substance called bromelain that may lower inflammation. You can buy bromelain supplements over the counter, along with skin creams that have bromelain in them. But it's best to get your nutrients from food rather than pills and creams.
Pineapple Risks and Warnings
You may have an itchy tongue or sore lips right after you eat pineapple. Because bromelain breaks down proteins, it can "eat away" at your flesh. For this reason, it's also an ingredient in meat tenderizer. But as soon as you swallow the fruit, your stomach acids destroy the flesh-eating enzyme.
Some people have an allergy to pineapple. If so, when you eat it, you might have:
If your allergy is severe, you could go into shock. You may be at greater risk of a pineapple allergy if you have an allergy to other fruits, pollen, or latex.
How to Prepare Pineapple
At the store, look for a pineapple that's heavy for its size. It should be free of soft spots and dark eyes. A ripe pineapple will smell sweet on its end.
With a sharp knife, this tropical fruit is easy to cut. Slice off the top and bottom so you have two flat surfaces. Cut off the outer skin, then cut the pineapple into quarters. Be careful to avoid the core.
You can enjoy pineapple by itself or add it to a smoothie, fruit salad, or salsa. Some people like it on pizza.
How to Store Pineapple
Once you've cut it, you can cover pineapple and leave it out on the counter. This makes it softer and juicier but won't change its taste. Pineapple goes bad quickly, so make sure you eat it within 2-3 days.
For pineapple recipes, check out:
U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database: "Pineapple, raw, all varieties."
Mount Vernon Library: "Pineapples."
Biotechnology Resource International: "Properties and Therapeutic Application of Bromelain: A Review."
Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism: "Effects of canned pineapple consumption on nutritional status, immunomodulation, and physical health of selected school children."
European Journal of Sport Science: "Acute protease supplementation effects on muscle damage and recovery across consecutive days of cycle racing."
Macular Degeneration Association: "Pineapple: Proven Health Benefits, Calories, Juice Benefits."
Journal of American Science: "Pharmacologic vitreolysis of vitreous floaters by 3-month pineapple supplement in Taiwan: A pilot study."
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development: "Pineapple."
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Bromelain."
The University of Manchester: "Allergy Information for Pineapple (Ananas comosus)."
The University of Melbourne: "The Flesh-Eating Pineapple."
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Food Allergy Research and Resource Program: "Allergenic Foods and their Allergens: Fruits."
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center: "Possible Interactions with Bromelain."
International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences: "Nutritional Value and Medicinal Benefits of Pineapple."
Molecular Nutrition and Food Research: “The Chemopreventive Action of Bromelain, From Pineapple Stem (Ananas Comosus L.), on Colon Carcinogenesis Is Related to Antiproliferative and Proapoptotic Effects.”
Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: “Perioperative Bromelain Reduces Pain and Swelling and Improves Quality of Life Measures After Mandibular Third Molar Surgery: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.”
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: “Protease Supplementation Improves Muscle Function After Eccentric Exercise.”