Seven Proven Health Benefits of Pineapple

Pineapple can help digestion, fight diseases, minimize cancer, relieve arthritis symptoms, aid in weight loss, boost immunity and suppress inflammation.

Pineapple is a fruit originating form South America but today grows in the most tropical climate. It is considered delicious and having numerous health benefits due to its nutrient components. It is rich in nutrients, useful antioxidants, and some enzymes that have the potential of fighting inflammation and diseases. Some health benefits include better skin, improved digestion, and a strong immune system that enhances recovery during injury or surgery. It was traditionally used as medicine by the native Americas to cure certain ailments. Some of the health benefits of pineapple are explained below.

It is rich in antioxidants for fighting diseases

Antioxidants are essential molecules used by the body to protect its cells from the damage of oxidative stress. Unfortunately, the free radicals originating from oxidative stress in the body often interact with the cells and cause damage, thus resulting in chronic inflammation: harmful diseases and a weakened immune system. Pineapple has antioxidants called flavonoids and phenolic acids, bound together, making them survive any harsh conditions in the body to produce longer benefits.

Pineapple has enzymes that promote digestion

Pineapple is not just a fruit; it also contains digestive enzymes called bromelain, which function as proteases, breaking down protein into amino acids and peptides. The broken-down protein molecules are easy to absorb in the ileum. It means that pineapple can greatly help individuals with pancreatic insufficiency, a condition where the pancreas cannot produce enough enzymes for digestion.

One study on individuals with pancreatic insufficiency showed that those who took supplements with bromelain enzyme experienced improved digestion than the group on supplements lacking bromelain. The effect of bromelain on protein digestion is also seen in the world of commerce, in which this enzyme is used as a meat tenderizer.

It can minimize the risk of cancer

Cancer is often characterized by the overgrowth of cells in the body, linked with chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Some studies show that pineapple and its nutritional compounds can reduce the risk of cancers because it is anti-inflammatory and can reduce oxidative stress. For example, two test-tube studies focused on bromelain and found that this enzyme can aid in fighting cancer. The studies highlighted that bromelain inhibited the growth of cancer cells in the breast and promoted the death of these cells.

Other studies also confirm that the bromelain enzyme suppressed the growth of skin cancer cells, cancer cells in the gastric system, bile duct, and colon. Additionally, some studies have suggested that bromelain can boost the immune system allowing the body to produce more white blood cells that effectively fight the growth and spread of cancer cells. Therefore, one can use supplements that contain more bromelain to help fight this malignant disease.

It is high in vitamin C that boosts immunity, and suppresses inflammation

Traditionally pineapple has been used as medicine due to its curative characteristics. Pineaple fruit is rich in various vitamins, including vitamin C, minerals, and some enzymes that collectively improve one’s immune systems and reduce chronic inflammation. One control study divided children into three groups, giving one group no pineapple; the second group received 14g of pineapple daily, while the third group received 280g of pineapple daily. This study showed that children who ate many pineapples had a reduced risk of contracting bacterial or viral infections. In addition, the group that consumed 280 grams of pineapple had four times more white blood cells responsible for fighting diseases than the remaining two groups.

Other studies also suggested that giving bromelain supplements to children with sinus infections results in faster recovery than the standard treatment. The anti-inflammatory functions of bromelain are a major contributor to the enhanced immune system.

Pineapple may help ease arthritis symptoms

Inflammation in the joint is the major cause of athritis and joint pains irrespective of the type. Here too, the anti-inflammatory effects of bromelain come in handy to provide relief from inflammation-causing arthritis. One research conducted in the 1960s indicated that bromelain was used to help alleviate the symptoms connected to rheumatoid arthritis that inflames the joints. Another study conducted on osteoarthritis suggested that taking digestive supplements that included bromelain aided in relieving joint pain from arthritis with similar effects as arthritis medicine. Several studies indicate that bromelain reduces arthritis symptoms in the short term, though it has not been established if bromelain has long-term effectiveness in reducing arthritis symptoms.

It may facilitate recovery after strenuous exercise or surgery

Some studies suggest that eating pineapple can help one to recover faster from surgery or exercise. The anti-inflammatory bromelain and vitamin C antioxidant contribute to faster recovery. Several researchers have found that bromelain can reduce swelling, pain, bruising, and inflammation that often accompany surgery. For instance, one study indicated that individuals given bromelain before dental surgery experienced less pain and felt happier than those who did not.

Similarly, since strenuous exercise damages muscle tissues causing inflammation around these tissues, bromelain, a protease, could help speed up recovery of the damaged muscles. One study wanted to confirm this assertion and gave participants involved in strenuous treadmill exercise supplements with bromelain 45 minutes after the exercise. Results show that those who took the supplements maintained more strength after the exercise with less inflammation.

Pineapple may enhance weight loss

Though there is no much evidence to support this claim, some studies and facts show that pineapple can result in weight loss. One 2018 animal study published in Food, Science, and Biotechnology journal indicated that pineapple could help minimize fat formation and enhance fat breakdown. Pineapple has low calories, rich in vitamins, minerals, and has no saturated fats or trans-fat that could add weight. It is also rich in fiber content that leaves you feeling full, resulting in less food eaten and fewer calories taken, hence weight loss. The fiber can also help in controlling blood sugar levels, thus suitable for people with diabetes.

The bottom line

Pineapple is not only delicious and sweet, but it also contains valuable nutrients and antioxidants helpful in fighting disease. It is low in calories suitable as a snack for obese and prediabetics. The compounds found in pineapples, such as enzyme bromelain and other antioxidants, are linked to lower risk of cancer, improved digestion, relief from arthritis, and quick recovery from surgery and strenuous exercise.

Nataly Komova

Nutritionist. Bluffton University, MS In today's world, people's eating and exercise patterns have changed, and it is often lifestyle that is the cause of many diet-related illnesses. I believe that each of us is unique – what works for one does not help another. What is more, it can even be harmful. I am interested in food psychology, which studies a person's relationship with their body and food, explains our choices and desires for specific products, the difficulty of maintaining optimal body weight, as well as the influence of various internal and external factors on appetite. I'm also an avid vintage car collector, and currently, I'm working on my 1993 W124 Mercedes. You may have stumbled upon articles I have been featured in, for example, in Cosmopolitan, Elle, Grazia, Women's Health, The Guardian, and others.

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