Pineapples are tropical fruits that are rich in vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants. They may help boost the immune system, build strong bones, and aid indigestion. And, despite their sweetness, pineapples are low in calories. Pineapple is more than just a delicious tropical fruit. Pineapple offers significant health benefits as well.
What is Pineapple?
Pineapples are members of the bromeliad family and are the only bromeliad that produces edible fruit, according to the Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products. The fruit is made of many individual berries that grow together around a central core. Each pineapple scale is an individual flower or berry.
The nutritional benefits of pineapples are as attractive as their unique anatomy. “Pineapples contain high amounts of vitamin C and manganese,” said San Diego-based nutritionist Laura Flores. These tropical fruits are also a good way to get important dietary fiber and bromelain (an enzyme).
“As well as having high amounts of manganese, which is important for antioxidant defenses, pineapples also contain high amounts of thiamin, a B vitamin that is involved in energy production,” Flores said.
For all its sweetness, one cup of pineapple chunks contains only 74 calories, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Pineapples are also fat-free, cholesterol-free, and low in sodium. Not surprisingly, they do contain sugar, with about 14 grams per cup.
Nutrition facts of Pineapple
Here are the nutrition facts for raw pineapple, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
Serving size: 1 cup chunks (165 g)
- Calories 74
- Total Fat 0 g
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 2 mg
- Potassium 206 mg
- Total Carbohydrate 19.5 g
- Sugars 13.7 g
- Protein 1g
- Vitamin C 28 mg
- Calcium 21 mg
The nutritional profile for canned pineapple is different from raw pineapple. According to the USDA, canned pineapple is typically higher in calories and higher in sugar. It also contains fewer vitamins and minerals. If you do opt for canned pineapple, try to get it with no added sugar or look for a variety that is canned in fruit juice instead of syrup.
Health benefits of Pineapple
Pineapple contains a significant amount of vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant that fights cell damage, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. This makes vitamin C a helpful fighter against problems such as heart disease and joint pain.
Pineapple may help you keep standing tall and strong. One cup of raw pineapple chunks contains 2.6 mg of manganese, a mineral that’s important for developing strong bones and connective tissue, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. A 1994 study suggested that manganese, along with other trace minerals, may be helpful in preventing osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.
The variety of vitamins and minerals in pineapples have many other health benefits, too. For example, “pineapples can help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a disease that affects the eyes as people age, due in part to its high amount of vitamin C and the antioxidants it contains,” Flores said.
Like many other fruits and vegetables, pineapple contains dietary fiber, which is essential in keeping you regular and in keeping your intestines healthy, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But unlike many other fruits and veggies, pineapple contains significant amounts of bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down protein, which may help with digestion, according to the American Cancer Society. Multiple studies have suggested that bromelain could also be helpful in treating osteoarthritis.
Excessive inflammation is often associated with cancer, and according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, bromelain and other proteolytic enzymes have been shown to increase the survival rates of animals with various tumors.
Flores noted that because of their bromelain levels, pineapples can help reduce excessive coagulation of the blood. This makes pineapple a good snack for frequent fliers and others at risk for blood clots.
In addition to having lots of vitamin C, pineapple’s bromelain may help reduce mucus in the throat and nose, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. So if your cold has you coughing, try some pineapple chunks. Those with allergies may want to consider incorporating pineapple into their diets more regularly to reduce sinus mucus long-term.
Pineapple Is a Fruit That’s Rich in Vitamin C
“The standout nutrient in pineapple is vitamin C, which supports the immune system and provides antioxidant benefits,” says Jackie Newgent, RDN, a New York City-based culinary nutritionist and the author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook. One cup of pineapple contains 78.9 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
That’s more than the recommended dietary allowance for adult women (which is 75 mg per day) and close to the recommendation for men (90 mg per day), according to MedlinePlus. Vitamin C is important because it encourages growth and healing around the body and plays a role in everything from wound repair to iron absorption.
Eating Pineapple May Enhance Your Weight Loss
You may have heard that pineapple can lead to weight loss. There isn’t a whole lot of evidence to back up that claim, though an animal study published in April 2018 in Food Science and Biotechnology did find that pineapple juice may help decrease the fat formation and increase fat breakdown. More studies in humans are needed to confirm that result, though.
Even if it doesn’t have a significant effect on your metabolism, it’s a good snack choice because it (and other fruits) is low in calories, high in important vitamins and minerals, and does not include saturated fats or trans fats, Andrews says. “There is no specific fruit or vegetable that directly causes weight loss, but they’ll help fill you up without packing in calories,” Andrews says. “So people tend to eat fewer calories overall if they consume several cups of fruits and vegetables each day as part of a well-balanced diet.”
You may also find that the fruit satisfies your sweet tooth. “Pineapple is lower in calories than other sweet treats, so if you enjoy a serving of pineapple versus an ice cream cone for your nightly dessert, you may consume fewer calories and, in turn, lose weight,” says Colleen Christensen, RD, a dietitian based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Pineapple also delivers some fiber (2.3 grams in 1 cup, per the USDA), which can help control your blood sugar level and help you eat less because it keeps you feeling full, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Eating Pineapple May Aid Your Digestion
Pineapple contains bromelain, which is a mix of enzymes that studies show can reduce inflammation and nasal swelling, and also aid in the healing of wounds and burns, according to the NCCIH. It’s also been linked to helping improve digestion and has historically been used in Central and South American countries to treat digestive disorders. A study published in Biotechnology Research International found that the bromelain in pineapple may help reduce the effects of diarrhea.
The Manganese in Pineapple Promotes Healthy Bones
Along with calcium, the trace mineral manganese is essential for maintaining strong bones, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Pineapple is one of the top food sources of the mineral, according to Oregon State University — a single cup of pineapple contains about 76 percent of the recommended daily value of manganese.
Manganese may help stave off osteoporosis and helps improve overall bone and mineral density, according to Oregon State University. Be careful not to overdo it, though — manganese intake can be dangerous and may increase the risk of cognitive disorders if you consume more than 11 mg per day, according to a study published in The Open Orthopaedics Journal. But don’t fret: It’d be difficult to reach those levels because ½ cup pineapple has less than 1 mg manganese, Andrews says.
Pineapple Is Packed with Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
According to a study published in June 2014 in Molecules, pineapple is a great source of antioxidants, specifically phenolics, flavonoids, and vitamin C. “Antioxidants are compounds in food that may help fight inflammation and free radicals in the body,” Knott says. According to the NCCIH, free radicals are molecules that can cause cellular damage and lead to health issues, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and eye problems. Filling up on antioxidant-rich foods like pineapple can play a role in countering those risks.
Thanks to Its Antioxidants, Pineapple Has Cancer-Fighting Properties
Cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the body multiply and take over the healthy tissue, according to the Mayo Clinic. While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent cancer, experts suggest eating a healthy diet — ideally one that’s high in antioxidants, which you can source through pineapple, to help fight off free radicals — to reduce your risk, according to Stanford Health Care. A study published in November 2018 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that diets and blood concentrations high in antioxidants were associated with a lower risk of cancer.
Pineapple Fits in an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Too much inflammation can lead to many diseases, including coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Thankfully, a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as pineapple, can help reduce the amount of inflammation in the body. According to a study published in September 2016 in Biomedical Reports, pineapple’s bromelain content is the reason for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Pineapple’s Nutrient Profile Means the Fruit Can Help Boost Immunity
You may want to reach for pineapple the next time you’re battling a cold. A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that children who consumed canned pineapple had fewer viral and bacterial infections compared to children who did not consume it over the nine-week study period. The researchers concluded that eating one to two cans (140 to 280 grams) of pineapple daily may reduce the likelihood of an infection or at least shorten its duration.
“Because pineapple is a great meat tenderizer, eating too much can result in tenderness of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, and cheeks,” Flores said. “But, [it] should resolve itself within a few hours.” But if the feeling persists, or if you experience a rash, hives, or breathing difficulties, you should seek medical help immediately, as you could have a pineapple allergy.
Flores pointed out a possible negative to pineapple’s high levels of vitamin C. “Because of the high amount of vitamin C that pineapples contain, consuming large quantities may induce diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or heartburn,” she said.
Additionally, extremely high amounts of bromelain can cause skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive menstrual bleeding, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Bromelain can also interact with some medications. Those taking antibiotics, anticoagulants, blood thinners, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, insomnia drugs, and tricyclic antidepressants should be careful not to eat too much pineapple.
Eating unripe pineapple or drinking unripe pineapple juice is dangerous, according to the horticulture department at Purdue University. Unripe pineapple toxic to humans and can lead to severe diarrhea and vomiting. And, avoid eating too much of the pineapple core as it could cause fiber balls to form in the digestive tract.
Source: By Jessie Szalay – Live Science, Everyday Health