Pineapple Health Benefits
Pineapple is a delicious addition to any diet, and we could go on and on listing pineapple health benefits, but we’re going to look at three of pineapple’s biggest health benefits. To start, let’s look at the nutrition facts:
Right off the bat, we can see that almost all of the calories (94%) in a pineapple are from carbohydrates. Like most fruits, the pineapple’s calories come in the form of sugars, which make it unbalanced from a macronutrient perspective. Keep in mind that when you add pineapple to your diet, you’ll still need to get adequate proteins and fats elsewhere. Be especially careful to balance the rest of your diet, because a pure pineapple diet would not be healthy. Pineapples simply have too much sugar. Of course, fruit sugars, or fructose, are not as bad as processed HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) which is often used in cereals and pre-packaged snack foods. Still, it’s common knowledge that sugars and fats are at the top of the food pyramid, and
Looking just at the nutrition facts, the pineapple’s health benefits may not be immediately apparent (although you should be able to spot the first benefit on our list). But we’ll dig a little deeper to learn what hidden benefits the pineapple has to offer. Without further adieu, let’s pinpoint the three most significant health benefits of the delicious pineapple:
1. Pineapples are packed with Vitamin C
This is the only one of our three pineapple health benefits that is apparent in the nutrition facts. This one cup (165g) serving contains 131% of your daily vitamin C! The high amounts of vitamin C will keep your immune system firing on all cylinders, and act as an antioxidant. Every diet can use citrus fruits like pineapple, grapefruit, and oranges to get an adequate amount of vitamin C — without citrus, you may need to take a vitamin C supplement.
Pineapple health benefit #1: High concentration of Vitamin C boosts immune system & acts as an antioxidant
2. Pineapples reduce inflammation
The enzymes in pineapple are what make this fruit stand out. You can get your vitamin C from an orange, but an orange doesn’t have all the healthy enzymes that you’ll find in a pineapple. The real all-star enzyme that we’ll discuss is called bromelain.
Pineapples are the only source in the world of bromelain, an enzyme which has been extracted from pineapple and used as an analgesic treatment for osteoarthritis. Bromelain reduces inflammation and decreases osteoarthritic pain. Not many fruits can be used to treat arthritis — +1 for the pineapple.
This is especially relevant if you can relate to any of the following:
- You suffer from arthritis
- You are an athlete
- You have chronic joint pain
- You use Advil to control chronic inflammation
A common misconception is that inflammation is simply a symptom, i.e. inflammation is a result rather than a cause of health problems. In reality, inflammation actually causes many health disorders. Pineapple is an all-natural anti-inflammatory drug. Ditch the ibuprofen!
Pineapple health benefit #2: Bromelain, an enzyme in pineapples, reduces inflammation
3. Pineapples aid digestion
On top of it’s anti-inflammatory qualities, that same enzyme, bromelain, also aids digestion. Specifically, it helps to break down proteins, which is why chefs often use pineapple juice in marinades — the bromelain helps to tenderize the meat. Next time you’re grilling out, consider marinading your protein (chicken, steak,…tofu?) in a pineapple juice marinade. The bromelain in the juice will help tenderize the meat and ensure proper post-prandial protein digestion. Not only that, but the protein will blunt the inevitable spike in blood sugar from the pineapple’s sugar content, so it’s a great way to get all the pineapple health benefits without the sugar-induced consequences.
Pineapple makes a great addition to a high-protein diet, because your digestive system will need help breaking down all the heavy, protein-packed meat in your diet. If you eat a diet high in protein, the bromelain in pineapple will aid your stomach’s natural digestive enzymes in the digestion process. We hypothesize that this digestion-boosting effect may explain the popularity of the three-day pineapple cleanse diet, which recommends eating nothing but three pineapples and two cans of tuna over a three-day period. We do not recommend this diet!
Make a pineapple marinade or just serve some sliced pineapples the next time you grill out. Your guests will be none the wiser, but their digestive systems will thank you later!
Pineapple health benefit #3: Bromelain also aids digestion by breaking down proteins
Those are 3 big-time pineapple health benefits, but beware of all the sugar!
These pineapple health benefits come with a catch: high sugar content. It’s best to consume sugar-rich foods such as this (16g of sugar in a one-cup serving!) for a quick boost of energy during exercise. Just keep in mind that too much sugar (>30g daily is our rule of thumb) can cause problems ranging from weight gain to endocrine (read: hormone) disruption. Again, if you eat pineapple as part of a high-protein or high-fat meal, the balanced macronutrients will help to blunt the spike in blood sugar.