6 Nutritional Benefits of Pineapples

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Pineapple is a delicious tropical fruit, celebrated for centuries, not only for its unique taste but also for its miraculous health benefits. Eat a cup of pineapple chunks daily to reap some of its amazing benefits, such as boosting immunity, improving bone and eye health, aiding in digestion, and even accelerating weight loss. It is also anti-inflammatory and helps in curing coughs and colds and accelerating weight loss.

Pineapple (also known as ananas) is covered with thorny spikes and topped with hard, waxy leaves — which may total up to thirty per fruit. The fruit is up to a foot long and has a combination of the sweet and tart taste. Pineapple belongs to the Bromeliaceae family and is composite fruit made of coalesced berries that grow at the crown of a fruiting tree.

The name pineapple evolved in the 17th century due to its structure and appearance being similar to pine cones. According to a study published through the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), pineapple is the most important tropical fruit after banana and orange.

Watch Video: 6 Surprising Benefits Of Pineapple

6 Surprising Benefits Of Pineapple | Organic Facts

Nutrition Facts

Pineapple, raw, all varieties
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]86
Energy [kcal]50
Protein [g]0.54
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.12
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]13.12
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.4
Sugars, total [g]9.85
Calcium, Ca [mg]13
Iron, Fe [mg]0.29
Magnesium, Mg [mg]12
Phosphorus, P [mg]8
Potassium, K [mg]109
Sodium, Na [mg]1
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.12
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]47.8
Thiamin [mg]0.08
Riboflavin [mg]0.03
Niacin [mg]0.5
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.11
Folate, DFE [µg]18
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]3
Vitamin A, IU [IU]58
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.02
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.7
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.04
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Pineapple Nutrition

Pineapple is chockfull of several health benefits due to its nutrient content. It contains bromelain, protein, carbohydrates, sugar, and soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, as per NISCAIR Online Periodicals Laboratory. The vitamins in these fruits include vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, thiamin, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6, and folate, as per the USDA National Nutrient Database.

Minerals like potassium, copper, manganese, calcium, sodium, and magnesium are also found in pineapples. These tropical fruits are low in calories and high in water content, which means they can be a part of weight loss diet when consumed in moderation.

Pineapple Uses

The fruit can be added to your daily diet in many forms, most commonly by cutting them into chunks to snack on! Crushed pineapple can also be added to cupcakes, cookies, bars, ice creams, yogurt, and various other desserts. Fresh pineapple juice or smoothie is another popular and delicious way to start your day.

The pineapple upside-down cake is an all-time favorite of food enthusiasts around the world. Antioxidant-rich pineapple juice is also enjoyed around the world in the form of the most famous tropical drink pina colada. Pineapple leaves are used as wallpaper and in ceiling insulation. Pineapple fragrance oils are also popular due to their tropical touch.

Health Benefits of Pineapple

The pineapple fruit is known to offer several benefits. Let us discuss each benefit in detail below.

Rich in Antioxidants

As per a 2014 research study published in the journal Molecules, pineapple is a rich source of flavonoids, which plays an important role in fighting oxidative stress in the body. Another study , dated 2011, published in Food Research International, stated that the antioxidant activity of pineapple is established by its phenolic content and ‘pineapple fruit being rich in phenolics may provide a good source of antioxidants’.

Boosts Immunity & Treats Sinus

Pineapple is rich in vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) and is known to help in reducing illnesses and boosting the immune system by stimulating the activity of the white blood cells in the body.

This fruit is rich in both bromelain and vitamin C, therefore it helps in preventing and treating respiratory illnesses and reducing the phlegm and mucus build up in the respiratory tracts and sinus cavities, as per research conducted by JM Braun, University of Cologne, Germany.

In order to check the impact of pineapple on immunity levels, almost 100 children were fed no fruit, some fruit, and lots of fruit daily in a nine-week study, conducted by a team of researchers from the Philippines. Children who ate this fruit showed a lower risk of viral infections and had almost four times more white blood cells than the other two groups. This shows a positive association between pineapple consumption and increased immunity levels.

Whole and sliced pineapple isolated on the wooden table

Aids in Digestion

According to a literature review conducted by naturopathic doctor Roxas Mario, eating fresh pineapple in all forms regularly can protect you from many health conditions, including constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This benefit of pineapple is linked to the presence of bromelain in it, which also helps to bulk up the stool. The enzyme bromelain is also known to break down proteins and improve digestion, according to a research paper published in the Alternative Medical Review-Journal of Clinical Therapeutic.

Anticancer Potential

Pineapple has been directly related to preventing cancers of the mouth, throat, and breast as it is rich in antioxidants and vitamins, including vitamin A, beta-carotene, bromelain, flavonoids, and manganese.

According to a report published by Mangalayatan University, bromelain possesses anti-cancer properties and promotes apoptotic cell death.

More research conducted by the University of Naples, suggests that bromelain can be helpful for those suffering from colorectal cancer. It also states that bromelain has a chemopreventive effect on colon cancer patients. It exerts anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects in colorectal carcinoma cells, with chemopreventive actions in colon carcinogenesis in vivo.

Reduces Inflammation

High vitamin C content in pineapple assists in healing wounds and injuries more quickly. It is seen as a healing vitamin because collagen is the essential protein base of blood vessel walls, skin, organs, and bones. Furthermore, bromelain in it is used in Europe to heal surgical wounds, inflammation due to trauma, and to treat deep burns as per a study published in the Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association.

According to other research published in 2016, pineapple also has anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and fibrinolytic effects making it super efficient in case of internal or external injuries.

Reduces Arthritis Pain

Pineapple has the ability to reduce the inflammation of joints and muscles, particularly those associated with arthritis. It contains a rare proteolytic enzyme called bromelain, which primarily aids in breaking down of complex proteins and has anti-inflammatory effects as well. According to a review of research conducted by Sarah Brien at the University of South Hampton, South Hampton, UK, bromelain can also help prevent the risk of osteoarthritis. Although bromelain supplements or pineapple enzymes are available over the counter, it’s best to take them under medical supervision.

Another study done in the University of Tasmania in Australia, claims there is a  beneficial effect of bromelain on exercise-related injuries or muscle damage.

How to tell when a pineapple is ripe?

The ripeness and freshness of pineapple can be determined by the smell of its base (no matter how green the crown is). Choose pineapples that have a base that smells sweet, just like its juice. A fragrance-free pineapple is either harvested too early or is not as sweet as it should be.

Note: If you are planning to consume this fruit, cut the crown and keep the fruit in the fridge, placing it upside down. Generally, the sweetness settles at the bottom of the fruit, and this will help in distributing it throughout the pineapple. It’s best to have the slices when it’s fresh so as to get maximum nutrition from it.

Side Effects

The side effects of pineapple are mainly due to the high proportions of bromelain and vitamin C present in it. Pineapple should only be consumed when fully ripened. According to research, common side effects of eating it include:

  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of mouth and cheeks
  • Skin rashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Anaphylactic shock

Risks

  • Sensitivity: Because of bromelain, your lips, gums, and tongue may experience some tenderness or sensitivity if you eat too much.
  • Canned Pineapples: Preservatives like sugar in canned pineapples are harmful to all, but especially to those with diabetes and those wanting to achieve weight loss goals.
  • Pregnancy: Bromelain has been known to stimulate menstruation, so pregnant women should avoid excessive intake of this fruit in order to prevent an increased chance of a miscarriage.
  • Interaction with medications: Individuals on medications like anticoagulants, blood thinners, insomnia drugs, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines may be advised to limit or avoid pineapple products, as they may interfere with these medications.
  • Heart disorders: People on medication of beta-blockers should consume pineapple in moderation as it can add to the potassium levels in the blood and cause them to rise.
  • Kidney diseases: Pineapple contains potassium, which is healthy, however, it can lead to negative effects if the intake of the fruit is not limited to certain kidney diseases. Always consult with a physician if you are being treated for one of these ailments.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux diseases (GERD): People suffering from GERD may witness an increase in serious symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation if too much of it is eaten.
  • Pesticides: Often used to kill fungi and harmful organisms, pesticides can also affect your health if you purchase pineapples from an unreliable source.

Keeping the health concerns in mind, grab one of these spiky tropical fruits and dig in. Your body will thank you!

Quick Facts

  • The fruit is native to Paraguay and Brazil, and some parts of the Caribbean.
  • While the exact evolution of this fruit as a popular global fruit is still unknown, it is believed that pineapple was first brought to Europe following Christopher Columbus’s return in 1493.
  • Hawaii had the largest production of pineapples, but they are now cultivated in large quantities in Brazil, the Philippines, and Costa Rica.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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