Pineapple is a tropical fruit available in any grocery store and a staple in many homes around the world.
Christopher Columbus brought pineapples back to Europe after an expedition to South America. Pineapples became known as an extravagant and exotic fruit, served only at the most lavish of banquets.
However, pineapples are now common, and people are able to enjoy them in solid, dried, and juice forms.
In Central and South America, pineapple is not only valued for its sweet taste, it has been used for centuries to treat digestion problems and inflammation.
This article explores the health benefits and nutrition of pineapple, as well as providing ways to include it in the diet.
One cup of fresh pineapple chunks contains approximately:
- 82 calories
- 0.2 grams (g) of fat
- 0 g of cholesterol
- 2 milligrams (mg) of sodium
- 21.65 g of total carbohydrate (including 16 grams of sugar and 2.3 grams of fiber)
- 0.89 g of protein
As a percentage of your daily requirements, the same amount of fresh pineapple chunks provides:
Pineapple is also a source of important vitamins and minerals, including:
- vitamin B-6
- pantothenic acid
- beta-carotene and other antioxidants
Fresh pineapple is the only known source of an enzyme called bromelain, which might play a role in a range of different health benefits.
Eating fruits and vegetables of all types has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.
It also promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and an overall lower weight.
The following are possible benefits of eating pineapple.
Age-related macular degeneration
The risks of developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients.
Some smaller studies have suggested bromelain can also contribute to reducing asthma symptoms.
Increasing potassium intake by consuming high potassium fruits and vegetables can help with lowering blood pressure. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), fewer than 2 percent of U.S. adults meet the daily 4,700-mg recommendation.
A high potassium intake is associated with a 20 percent decreased risk of dying from all causes.
As an excellent source of vitamin C, a strong antioxidant, pineapples can help combat the formation of free radicals. These are linked to the development of cancer.
However, more recent studies have demonstrated that this may not be the case.
High fiber intake from all fruits and vegetables is associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
One medium pineapple provides about 13 g of fiber.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21 to 25 g per day for women and between 30 and 38 g per day for men.
Pineapples, because of their fiber and water content, help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.
Pineapples are also rich in bromelain, an enzyme that helps the body digest proteins. Bromelain also reduces inflammatory immune cells, called cytokines, that damage the digestive tract lining.
The inedible stems are the most concentrated source of bromelain, which can be extracted and is readily available in supplement form.
Antioxidant-rich diets have been shown to improve fertility. Because free radicals can damage the reproductive system, foods with high antioxidant activity like pineapples are recommended for those trying to conceive.
Healing and Inflammation
Some studies have shown that bromelain, primarily in the stem, can reduce swelling, bruising, healing time, and pain associated with injury and surgical intervention.
The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pineapple all promote heart health.
In one study, people who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day reduced the risk of death from ischemic heart disease 49 percent when compared with those who consumed less potassium.
The antioxidant vitamin C, when eaten in its natural form or applied topically, can help to fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution, reduce wrinkles, and improve overall skin texture.
Select a pineapple with a firm, plump body, without bruising, or soft spots and with green leaves at the crown.
A green outer shell does not mean the pineapple is not ripe and, contrary to popular belief, neither does the ease in which the leaves pull from the crown.
Pick pineapples at their peak ripeness. Unlike other fruits, they will not continue to ripen once picked.
Whole pineapples should be stored at room temperature, while cut pineapples should be stored in the refrigerator.
When eating canned or packaged pineapple, make sure to pick up the varieties canned in pineapple juice, not heavy syrup.
Here are a few preparation tips for including more pineapple in the diet:
- Add pineapple to your favorite kebabs. Try shrimp, chicken, or steak kebabs with red onions, pineapple, and cherry tomatoes.
- Make a fruit salad with strawberries, pineapple, mandarin oranges, and grapes. Top with unsweetened shredded coconut for a fresh twist.
- Add some pineapple slices to your salad at lunch or dinner. Compliment the pineapple with walnuts or pecans, a crumbled cheese, and light balsamic or citrus vinaigrette dressing.
- Make your own juice. Nothing tastes better than fresh fruit juice in the morning. When you make your own, you can be sure there are no added preservatives or sweeteners.
- Make a fresh salsa with pineapple, mango, jalapeño, red peppers, and chipotle pepper and use as a topper for your favorite fish tacos.
Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High potassium foods should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.
Consuming too much potassium can be harmful to people whose kidneys are not fully functional. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.
Focus on keeping the overall diet varied and adding a range of nutrients to the overall diet, rather than specific foods.
How much pineapple should I eat per day?
A minimum of 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day is recommended for overall health. Experts encourage more vegetables than fruits for weight management so this leaves room for about 2 servings a day of fruit.
In order to obtain the nutritional benefits from a varied diet, eat no more than one serving or one cup of pineapple a day. That being said, if reaching for more pineapple means you are avoiding less healthy snacks, such as processed sweets or junk food, then, by all means, eat more pineapple!