Pineapples are delicious tropical fruits, which have been celebrated for centuries not only for their unique taste but also for their miraculous health benefits. The health and medicinal benefits of pineapple include boosting the immune system, and respiratory health, aiding digestion, and strengthening bones. They also help in reducing inflammation, curing coughs and colds, and accelerating weight loss.
What is Pineapple?
Pineapple, also known as ananas, is a delicious tropical fruit surrounded by thorny spikes and topped with hard, waxy leaves that are sometimes up to thirty per fruit. The fruit is up to a foot long and has a combination of sweet and tart taste. Pineapple belongs to the Bromeliaceae family and is actually a 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.
Pineapples are a storehouse of several health benefits due to their nutrients. They contain bromelain, protein, carbohydrates, sugar, and soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. The vitamins in these fruits include vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, thiamin, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6, and folate. Minerals like potassium, copper, manganese, calcium, sodium, and magnesium are also found in pineapples. These tropical fruits are low in calories and are, therefore, a major part of weight loss diets.
Health Benefits of Pineapple
The pineapple fruit is known to offer several benefits. Let us discuss each benefit in detail below.
Pineapple has an 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.
Pineapple is rich in vitamin C, which makes it one of the richest sources of ascorbic acid. Vitamin C helps in reducing illnesses and boosting the immune system by stimulating the activity of white blood cells and acting as an antioxidant to defend against the harmful effects of free radicals.
Speeds up Wound Healing
High vitamin C content in pineapple helps you heal wounds and injuries quickly and also defends you against infections and illnesses. Vitamin C plays an essential role in creating collagen. This is partly the reason why it is seen as a healing vitamin because collagen is the essential protein base of blood vessel walls, skin, organs, and bones.
Pineapple has been directly related to preventing cancers of the mouth, throat, and breast as it is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin A, beta-carotene, bromelain, flavonoids, and manganese. Manganese is an important cofactor of superoxide dismutase, an extremely potent free radical scavenger that has been associated with the prevention of different cancers.
Aids in Digestion
Eating pineapples regularly can protect you from many health conditions, including constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), atherosclerosis, and blood clotting as well as high blood pressure. Pineapple, being rich in fiber, promotes the passage of food through the digestive tract at a normal rate and stimulates the release of gastric and digestive juices to help food dissolve. It also bulks up loose stool, which helps in treating diarrhea and IBS. Furthermore, the bromelain in pineapple stimulates protein digestion, reduces gut inflammation, and therefore, treats digestive issues.
Treats Cough and Cold
Pineapple is rich in both bromelain and vitamin C, therefore it helps in preventing and treating respiratory illnesses while eliminating phlegm and mucus from your body if you’ve already contracted an illness or infection. These two nutrients are connected with the reduction of phlegm and mucus build up in the respiratory tracts and sinus cavities.
Improves Bone Health
Pineapple contains an impressive amount of manganese. Manganese is a trace mineral essential for the strengthening of bones as well as their growth and repair. It is the most prominent mineral in pineapple, and a single serving can provide you with more than 70% of your daily requirement of this mineral.
Pineapple aids in reducing the symptoms of asthma. It contains essential nutrients like vitamin C, bromelain, and beta-carotene, which help reduce inflammation often faced by asthmatics.
Pineapple, being rich in fiber, is a great food for diabetics. For those with type 1 diabetes, it aids in lowering the high blood glucose levels. And in individuals with type 2 diabetes, it results in improved blood sugar, insulin, and lipid levels. However, there is a certain amount of sugar present in pineapples, so do limit your intake to avoid adverse effects.
Pineapples have been connected to improved fertility because of their antioxidant properties. These crowned fruits exercise their free radical scavenging action and help women in conceiving. The vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, beta-carotene, copper, zinc, and folate, all play an essential part in improving female as well as male fertility.
Vitamin C, present in pineapple, is a super antioxidant that tones your skin. It also helps clear acne, fight skin damage, and delay aging by reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Moreover, collagen formation is largely credited to vitamin C, which indirectly keeps the skin tissues healthy.
Improves Oral Health
Along with the antioxidants that protect against oral cancer, pineapple also has astringent properties, which strengthen gums and teeth. Pineapple is a very powerful astringent and is often prescribed as a natural remedy to fix the loosening of teeth or the retraction of gums. Astringent agents help tighten up tissues and tone the body so that tooth loss, hair loss, muscle weakness, and skin loosening do not occur.
Pineapple has the ability to improve eye health and prevent other age-related eye diseases. Macular degeneration affects many elderly people and beta-carotene present in pineapple can help prevent this vision problem.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Pineapple is a valuable source of potassium. The vasodilating action of potassium eases tension and stress in the blood vessels and increases blood circulation to various parts of the body. When your blood vessels relax, the blood pressure is reduced and the flow of blood is less restricted. Therefore, your chances of suffering from hypertension are reduced.
Protects Heart Health
The vasodilating properties of potassium in pineapple can prevent clots from blocking the flow of blood and reduce the accumulation of plaque in the arteries and vessels. This helps prevent conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. So, eat pineapples for a healthy heart!
Improves Blood Circulation
Along with the vasodilating potential of potassium, pineapple also provides the body with copper, another essential mineral that functions in a number of enzymatic reactions and compounds in the body. Most notably, copper is a necessary element for the formation of healthy red blood cells. High red blood cell count increases oxygenation to various organs and makes them function at optimal levels. It also increases cognitive abilities and maintains neural pathways to prevent disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dissolves Kidney Stones
By regulating digestion and reducing blood clotting, pineapples help in dissolving kidney stones. Eat the bromelain-rich fruit or drink its juice to keep the kidneys safe and stones away!
Uses of Pineapples
You can include pineapples in your daily diet in a number of tasty and healthy ways.
- Pineapple is best when eaten fresh. Cut it into rings or wedges and snack on!
- Fresh pineapple juice or pineapple smoothie is definitely a delicious way to start your day.
- Add some crushed pineapple to the normal cookies you bake and enjoy the exotic flavor.
- Pineapples are so versatile, they can be used for any dessert you name. Add them to yogurt, ice creams, or salads to enjoy the benefits.
- Pineapple and its juice are enjoyed around the world as the tropical drink, pina colada, and even as a popular flavor in alcoholic beverages.
Fun Tip: If you are planning to consume a pineapple, 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.
Its leaves are even used as wallpaper and in ceiling insulation.
How to Pick a Pineapple?
The ripeness and freshness of a pineapple can be determined by the smell if its base (no matter how green the crown is). Pick a pineapple, the base of which smells sweet, just like pineapple juice. A fragrance-free pineapple is either harvested too early or is not sweet as it should be.
Side Effects of Pineapple
The side effects of pineapple are mainly because of the high proportions bromelain and vitamin C present in it. Also, raw pineapple is very unhealthy for consumption and should be avoided. Common side effects of eating pineapple include:
- Swelling of mouth and cheeks
- Skin rashes
- Sensitivity: Because of bromelain your lips, gums, and tongue may experience some tenderness or sensitivity if you eat too much pineapple.
- Canned Pineapples: Preservatives like sugar in canned pineapples are harmful to all, especially diabetics and those wanting to achieve weight loss goals.
- Pregnancy: Bromelain has been known to stimulate menstruation, so pregnant women should avoid excessive intake of pineapple in order to prevent any chances of a miscarriage.
- Interaction with medications: Individuals on medications like anticoagulants, blood thinners, insomnia drugs, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines.
- 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: Potassium, in pineapples, is healthy in many ways but can lead to negative effects if the intake of the fruit is not limited.
- Gastro-esophageal reflux diseases (GERD): People suffering from GERD may witness an increase in serious symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation if too much of pineapple is eaten.
Keeping the health concerns in mind, grab one of these spiky tropical fruits and dig in. Your body will thank you!
Hawaii had the largest production of pineapples, but they are now cultivated in large quantities in Brazil, the Philippines, and Costa Rica. That being said, the fruit is native to Paraguay and Brazil, and some parts of the Caribbean. The exact evolution of pineapple as a popular global fruit is still unknown; however, it is believed that pineapple was first brought to Europe following Christopher Columbus’s return in 1493.