Pineapple (scientific name: Ananas comosus) is a delicious tropical fruit. It is extremely versatile, and you can consume it in a variety of ways. You can enjoy pineapples on their own, as a smoothie, or add them as an ingredient in salads and homemade pizzas. This popular fruit is packed with nutrients, compounds, and antioxidants that can fight inflammation and disease. Here, we will enumerate seven amazing health benefits of pineapple.
Health Benefits of Pineapple
1. Loaded With Nutrients
Pineapples are low in calories, but have a very impressive nutrient profile. One cup of pineapple chunks contains the following:
• Calories: 82.5
• Carbs: 21.6 grams
• Fiber: 2.3 grams
• Protein: 1 gram
• Fat: 1.7 grams
• Vitamin C: 131% of RDI*
• Vitamin B6: 9% of RDI
• Thiamin: 9% of RDI
• Folate: 7% of RDI
• Niacin: 4% of RDI
• Pantothenic acid: 4% of RDI
• Riboflavin: 3% of RDI
• Copper: 9% of RDI
• Iron: 3% of RDI
• Potassium: 5% of RDI
• Magnesium: 5% of RDI
• Manganese: 76% of RDI
*RDI – Reference Daily Intake: The daily intake level of a nutrient that is considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of 97–98% of healthy individuals in the United States.
Pineapples are especially rich in vitamin C and manganese, providing 131% and 76% of the reference daily intake, respectively. In addition, they are cholesterol-free, fat-free, and low in sodium.
Vitamin C is essential for a healthy immune system, iron absorption, growth, and development. Meanwhile, manganese has antioxidant properties, aids growth, and helps maintains a healthy metabolism.
2. Good Source of Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
Aside from being rich in nutrients, pineapples are also a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules which help the body combat free radicals. Free radicals interact with cells and cause damage linked to many harmful diseases, chronic inflammation, and a weakened immune system.
Being rich in antioxidants, pineapples may reduce the risk of some chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Pineapples are particularly rich in antioxidants known as flavonoids and phenolic acids.
3. Contain Enzymes that can Aid Digestion
Like most fruits and vegetables, pineapples contain dietary fiber, which is essential in keeping your intestines healthy. What makes pineapples stand out is that they contain bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down protein and helps digestion. Once broken down, protein molecules are more easily absorbed across the small intestine.
4. May Ease Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis affects about 54 million adults in the United States alone. There are many types of arthritis; most of them involve inflammation of the joints. Since the bromelain in pineapples has anti-inflammatory properties, it is believed that it may provide pain relief for people with inflammatory arthritis. In fact, research from as far back as the 1960s shows that bromelain was used to alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, a type of arthritis characterized by inflammation of the joints.
5. Stronger Bones
Eating pineapples is beneficial for bone strength. The fruit contains about 76% of the reference daily intake of manganese, which is essential for developing strong bones and connective tissue. One study suggested that manganese may be helpful in preventing osteoporosis in post menopausal women.
6. Fights Colds and Sinus Inflammation
Besides being rich in vitamin C, the bromelain in pineapple may help reduce mucus in the nose and throat. So if you have a cold or a cough, try some pineapple chunks. You may also want to incorporate pineapple into your diet if you want to get this benefit over the long term.
7. May Help Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth and is commonly linked to chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Several studies have shown that pineapple may reduce the risk of cancers.
Pineapples contain enzymes called bromelain. Two test tube studies show that bromelain suppressed the growth of breast cancer cells. Other test tube studies show bromelain suppresses cancer in the gastric system, colon, skin, bile duct, among other areas. Studies have found that bromelain can help white blood cells become more effective at suppressing and eliminating cancer cells.
Important Things to Know About Pineapple
Eating too much pineapple can lead to tenderness of the mouth, (lips, tongue, and cheeks). It should disappear within a few hours, though. If it doesn’t or if you experience a rash, hives or breathing difficulty, seek medical help immediately. You may be allergic to pineapple.
Also, people taking antibiotics, blood thinners, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and tricyclic antidepressants shouldn’t eat too much pineapple, as the bromelain in it can interact with these medications.
Interesting Facts About Pineapples
• The word “pineapple” (from the Spanish word piña), was first used in 1398 and originally referred to a pinecone. About 300 years later, the word “pinecone” was introduced so that pineapple can be used exclusively for the fruit.
• Pineapples were discovered in 1493 by Europeans on the Caribbean island of Guadalupe.
• Early attempts by the Europeans to cultivate pineapple failed until they realized that it needs a tropical climate in order to flourish. Toward the end of the 16th century, Spanish and Portuguese explorers introduced pineapples into their South Pacific, African, and Asian colonies.
• Because pineapples are perishable, early American colonists found fresh pineapples hard to get. Fresh pineapple became a symbol of social class and prestige, while glazed, sugar-coated pineapples were considered a luxurious treat.
• Pineapples were cultivated in Hawaii in the 18th century. It is the only US state in which pineapples are still grown.
• Other countries that grow pineapples commercially include Thailand, Philippines, China, Mexico, and Brazil.
• Pineapple canneries use almost every part of the pineapple. Skins, core and end portions are used to make alcohol, animal food, and vinegar.
Pineapples are available year-round in many American markets and can be purchased fresh, canned, or frozen. This fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and bromelain. To experience the health benefits of pineapple, try incorporating this delicious fruit into your diet.
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