A little thorny on the outside, but super sweet on the inside, the pineapple is so much more than a tasty symbol of tropical islands. Did you know that it takes almost three years for a single pineapple to reach maturation?1
No wonder it’s one of the more expensive fruits found in our local grocery stores. But, don’t let the price of this powerhouse fruit put you off. The pineapple is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and an amazing enzyme called Bromelain, and all these components provide a wealth of health benefits.
And bonus – pineapples are low in calories despite their sweetness.
font_0 When you think of the pineapple, it’s not likely that you might think it could help your digestion. However, because of the Bromelain found in pineapple, it’s an excellent choice to assist with digestive distress or discomfort you may be experiencing.
In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits of pineapples, and you’ll be introduced to Bromelain – what it is and how it can help you, especially in regard to digestive health.
What is a Pineapple?
You may think you know exactly what a pineapple is. It’s a sweet and delicious fruit, right? Well, the wondrous pineapple is so much more than that. A pineapple is not a single fruit; instead, it’s made up of lots of individual fruits. In fact, it’s a group of berries that have fused together. The hexagonal shapes on the spiky outer layer are called “eyes,” and each “eye” is a fruit. Standing proudly at the top of the pineapple are thick spiky leaves, which are called the crown, and they protect the fruit from the hot tropical sun while also giving the pineapple a look of royalty.
The health benefits of pineapples are immense due to being rich in vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants. Though the slightly spiky outer layer might make you hesitate to pick it up, just know that the mighty pineapple may help to boost your immune system, build strong bones, and aid in digestion.2 With an abundance of Vitamin C, Manganese, and Bromelain (an enzyme), pineapples have nutritional benefits that are as interesting as their anatomy. Just take a look at the benefits list:
Supports Immune System
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights cell damage, and pineapples are filled with this vitamin, thus making it helpful in fighting off illness.2 In a recent study, researchers found that eating a ½ cup of pineapples every day for 2 months helped boost participants’ immune systems.3 It’s thought that this is found true because along with Vitamin C, pineapples are packed with nutrients that boost the body’s production of granulocytes, which make up white blood cells, and the white blood cells are your body’s first line of defense against bacteria and flu bugs.3 Pineapples can certainly help fight off infections, especially around flu season.
Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease
Along with Vitamin C, pineapples have high levels of potassium. In one study, those who consumed 4,069 milligrams of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1,000 milligrams per day).4 High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density, and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.4 And lastly, increasing potassium intake by consuming high potassium fruits can help with lowering blood pressure.4
Supports Bone Strength
The pineapple contains nearly 75 percent of the daily-recommended value of the mineral Manganese,3 which is essential in developing strong bones and connective tissue.3, 5 In recent decades, research has uncovered that manganese plays a role in bone cartilage and bone collagen formation.6 And in one particular Belgian study, severely osteoporotic women were compared to non-osteoporotic women, and of 25 variables studied, only Manganese was significantly different between the two groups.6 Strong bone health is beneficial throughout our lives, so why not have a tasty pineapple treat in the effort to keep your bones strong?
Helps in Prevention of Cancer
Being an antioxidant, pineapples can help combat the formation of free radicals that are known to cause cancer. Next, there is the fiber found in pineapples. And fruits high in fiber, like pineapples, have been associated with lowered risk of colorectal cancer.4 Lastly, pineapples have an enzyme known as Bromelain, which is a natural nutrient that has a fundamental function in treatments for diseases related to certain types of carcinomas, as well as anti-tumor effects.7 In one study that compared the effect of Bromelain with the medication used for chemotherapy, 5-fluorouracil, they found that the anti-tumor effect of Bromelain surpassed that of 5-fluorouracil.7 Bromelain was not only found to be more effective but was also many times safer than 5-FU.8 In addition, Bromelain has selective cytotoxicity, which means it only focuses on the cancer cells and leaves the healthy cells alone.7, 8 To date, there isn’t an FDA approved cancer-fighting drug that can emulate the process like Bromelain does.8
Reduces Inflammation and Speeds Up Healing
Speaking of Bromelain, it also works as an anti-inflammatory. Bromelain is currently being used to treat and reduce inflammation from tendonitis, sprains, strains, and other minor muscle injuries as well as swelling related to ear, nose, and throat surgeries or trauma.2, 7 It can also reduce general bruising, healing time, and pain. Bromelain in conjunction with Vitamin C, can certainly ease your sinus inflammation, whether it’s from allergies or a cold.2 So, consider incorporating some daily pineapple into your diet when symptoms start to flare up.
Supports Healthy Digestion
Pineapples, because of their fiber and water content, help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.4 Fortunately, pineapples are a powerful aid in breaking down proteins, and easing the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, acid reflux, IBS, and helps with general digestive processes, which could be attributed to the Bromelain enzyme.2, 8 Having a little pineapple as part of a tasty dessert can help you digest your meal easier.
Antioxidant-rich diets have been shown to improve fertility.4 Because free radicals can damage the reproductive system, foods with high antioxidant activity, like pineapples, are recommended for those trying to conceive.8
What is Bromelain?
Enzymes are vital for life and serve a wide range of important functions, and the Bromelain enzyme is one of the best when it comes to anti-inflammation and digestion. Just take a look at the amazing benefits of Bromelain that could be yours.
Bromelain has the ability to decrease the majority of pro-inflammatory mediators and is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.10 A particular inflammatory disease that Bromelain helps with is ulcerative colitis, which is an inflammatory bowel disease that is characterized by abdominal cramping and pain, diarrhea, and weight loss.11
Fights Allergies and Asthma
Studies have shown that Bromelain assists in decreasing nose inflammation and difficulty in breathing, and suggests that it may be helpful in treating allergies, asthma, and hypersensitivity disorders.12
Helps Prevent Cancer Growth
Bromelain has been found by studies to have natural anti-cancer effects, which include its ability to promote cell death in cancer cells and preventing tumor growth.13 Furthermore, Bromelain inhibits key pathways that are integral in supporting cancer growth.10
Reduces Pain and Swelling
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Bromelain is effective in pain management for minor injuries, such as sprains, strains, and other trauma.11 Studies have also shown it to be an effective treatment for joint stiffness often associated with osteoarthritis.14
Protects the Heart
Studies suggest that Bromelain may stop blood platelets from clotting, which is extremely beneficial to heart health because blood clots can increase heart disease.10 In other studies, it’s been shown that Bromelain reduces heart cell death and increases heart cell survival, and it helps with the recovery after a heart attack or stroke.10
Helps Heal Skin
Bromelain, when used as a topical cream, is highly effective at safely removing damaged tissue from wounds and from second and third-degree burns.14
Supports Digestive Health
A major way that Bromelain supports digestive health is that it breaks down protein, thus making the digestive process easier.15 Studies conclude that Bromelain can reduce bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion because it can decrease inflammation in the gut and colon, and heal the GI tract tissues.16
Additional Ways to Get Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics
A protein-digesting enzyme called Papain is found in papaya. Like Bromelain, Papain breaks down proteins that have been ingested. This breakdown helps make digestion easier.17
Lactobacillus is the probiotic (bacteria that is good for your digestive system) found in yogurt, and it can help with digestive issues, such as diarrhea.18 Another probiotic, Bifidobacterium, is also found in yogurt and fights harmful bacteria in the intestines, prevents constipation, and gives the immune system a boost.18
This is an important vitamin because it helps foster healthy bacteria in the gut by eliminating harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. A lack of Vitamin B-12 can negatively affect the digestive system because the vitamin is essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.19
This tasty spice supports digestion by relaxing the smooth muscles of the digestive tract and gently pushing digested food through the intestines. Turmeric also discourages gas and bloating.20
Fennel seeds contain phytonutrients thought to have antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which is great for anyone that suffers with bloating, gas, stomach cramps, flatulence or problematic bowel movements.21
There may not be a tastier way to support your digestive health other than eating some deliciously sweet pineapple. So why not indulge a little in this sweet treat and enjoy the many benefits the grand pineapple can bring you? Your body will thank you!
We’d love for you to share any tips you have about gut health or pineapple recipes that help reduce irritable bowels and other digestive ailments. So share with the LifeSeasons community and support our belief that knowledge is power and our community our life source.
Feed Your Curiosity
If you want to be the first to know about new posts from our blog, join our email list to receive updates with helpful tips for living a healthy life.