Pineapple is a sweet, tangy tropical fruit that's loved all over the world. Many of us enjoy pineapple as a snack or dessert to curb our sugar cravings, so it can be hard to remember that it's actually a healthy food - and one of your 5 a day!
Pineapple has been used in folk medicine for centuries. The fruit, which is native to the Americas, is now grown in tropical regions globally. Packed with essential nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C and manganese, pineapple is far more than just a tasty snack.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy pineapple. Fresh fruit tends to be the most nutrient-rich, but out of season, you can also enjoy it frozen or canned in its own juices.
Let's take a look at some of the top health benefits of pineapple fruit and juice.
1. Strengthens Bones
Pineapples are a great source of vitamin C, which is essential for collagen formation. Collagen is the foundation for bone mineralization, so getting enough vitamin C helps us to build and maintain strong, healthy bones and gums.
Additionally, pineapple contains manganese, which is essential for bone development and has been found to make bones denser. One study of postmenopausal women suggests that including the right amount of manganese in our diets can prevent osteoporosis.
Drinking one cup of pineapple juice is enough to provide you with more than 70% of the RDI for manganese. Adults, children and elderly people alike can benefit from pineapple's bone-strengthening abilities.
2. Boosts The Immune System
The vitamin C in pineapples isn't only good for bone health. Being a water-soluble antioxidant, vitamin C is effective in fighting free radical damage to our body's cells. This can prevent everything from joint pain to heart disease and even some forms of cancer.
In general, getting enough vitamin C can help reduce your risk of getting ill, and studies have found that vitamin C deficiencies can impair the immune system. This vitamin is an essential micronutrient, and drinking pineapple juice or eating pineapple daily can help your body to take in what it needs.
3. Reduces Blood Clot Risk
Bromelain, a group of enzymes found in the pineapple fruit and stem, has been found to reduce excessive coagulation (clotting or thickening) of the blood. It can do so by thinning the blood and breaking down blood clots.
If you're a frequent flyer, you're an older person, or you're at a higher risk of blood clots, you should definitely add fresh pineapple to your diet.
4. Remedy For Sinus Issues and Allergies
When it comes to clearing the sinuses and reducing allergy symptoms, vitamin c and bromelain are the two starring compounds in pineapple once more.
One study of children found that bromelain was effective in reducing the duration of symptoms of nasal issues. It can also reduce nasal inflammation and improve breathing. Bromelain is considered so effective as a sinus clearer that you can buy supplements specifically for the job.
Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and can reduce inflammation of the mucus membranes. This is helpful in reducing sinus-related symptoms associated with colds and seasonal allergies.
5. Sustains Eye Health
With its high antioxidant content, pineapple has been found to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, an age-related eye disease that can result in loss of vision.
Another essential vitamin for eye health is beta carotene, which is also found in pineapple. Beta carotene can help to prevent dry eyes, ensuring that the cornea stays healthy and moist. Taking in enough beta carotene can also prevent night blindness.
6. Battles Stress
In today's modern world, stress is a normality. In many cases, it's impossible to eliminate our sources of stress, but we can better manage this feeling.
Pineapples contain a number of B-vitamins, which help to maintain the nervous system. A strong nervous system makes us better equipped to fight symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Stress isn't something to be taken lightly. If making healthy changes to your diet doesn't help, speak to your doctor about your concerns.
7. May Prevent Cancer
Pineapple contains antioxidants, which inhibit oxidation, a process caused by free radicals that can damage or even kill cells.
Certain types of cell damage can cause cells to mutate and rapidly multiply, resulting in cancer. Antioxidants can fight free radicals, preventing them from causing harm.
Pineapple enzymes have been shown in studies to shrink and kill off cancer cells. However, there isn't enough research to suggest that you should use antioxidants alone to fight cancer - they should only be considered as a preventative measure.
8. Treats Cough and Cold
We've looked at the sinus-clearing abilities of pineapple already, so it's no surprise that this fruit can also treat the common cold.
Because of its anti-inflammatory vitamin C and bromelain compounds, pineapple may be just as effective as some medications for treating cough and cold.
As an added bonus, bromelain can reduce symptoms often associated with cold, such as respiratory problems and swelling. Pineapples also contain enzymes that can clear out the mucus from your throat and chest, and reduce overall inflammation.
Next time you come down with a cold, swap your usual natural remedy for one cup of pineapple juice. Its bromelain content should help you to get back to good health much sooner.
9. Reduces Blood Pressure
Pineapple is packed full of healthful nutrients, and potassium is one of them. As a natural vasodilator, potassium can dilate (open) the body's blood pressure. This helps to reduce tension and allow blood to flow more easily around your body.
Relaxed blood vessels come hand-in-hand with normal blood pressure levels. When your blood vessels are constricted, on the other hand, your blood pressure will rise, putting you at risk of a number of conditions, including heart disease and stroke. Adding pineapples to your diet may help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
10. Strengthens Gums
Our oral health can affect the health of our bodies, so it's essential that we look after our gums in any way we can.
Pineapples contain astringent agents, which can strengthen the gums and reduce your risk of oral cancer. They also contain a compound called xylitol, which gets rid of bacteria in the mouth. Pineapples can even prevent your gums from retracting and reduce the potential for loose teeth in the mouth.
11. Improves Digestion
The majority of us will suffer from digestive problems from time to time. If you're dealing with constipation, gas or bloating on a frequent basis, however, it may be time to add pineapple to your diet.
Pineapple is rich in vitamins and minerals, including fiber, a nutrient found in many fruits and vegetables that can promote healthy movement of food through the digestive tract. The bromelain in pineapple also supports protein digestion.
12. Boosts Gut Health
We might not think about it often, but our guts contain millions of bacteria - in fact, we have millions more bacteria in our bodies than we do cells.
It's unsurprising, then, that it's essential to keep the gut flora healthy, and pineapples can help. The enzymes in pineapple help the body to break up proteins, and bromelain's anti-bacterial properties can reduce gut inflammation and kill off bacteria responsible for diarrhea.
13. Treats Acne
Acne can be embarrassing and may have an impact on your self-esteem. Paying for expensive acne products might not be an option for you. In that case, a natural remedy like pineapple is well worth considering.
Eating pineapples can help to reduce your likelihood of acne, as the fruit is rich in anti-inflammatory vitamin C, enzymes and bromelain. You can also make your own homemade face mask using honey and pineapple pulp, which should promote healthy, glowing skin.
14. Relieves Nausea
With its high vitamin and mineral content, pineapple can have a nausea-relieving effect. Its B-vitamin content makes it especially effective for treating morning sickness in pregnant women.
Drinking a glass of pineapple juice should reduce your likelihood of getting travel sick, so before heading off on a long journey, drink up!
15. Strengthens Nails
If your body isn't taking in enough vitamin B and A, you're likely to have weak, cracked or peeling nails. Being a good source of both of these vitamins, pineapples can help to strengthen your nails.
As we know, pineapple is also rich in vitamin C, as well as bromelain, which helps the body to properly digest protein - the essential building block for healthy nails.
16. Thickens Hair & Promotes Hair Growth
Once more, the antioxidant properties of pineapple's vitamin C make it ideal for tackling hair loss related to free radical damage.
Applying pineapple extract to the scalp will give hair follicles the essential nutrients they need to grow. Even adding pineapples to your diet should help to reduce hair loss and promote thick, shiny hair.
17. Improves Fertility
Infertility is a much more common problem than many of us realize. There are many reasons why you may struggle to get pregnant, and eating the right foods while trying to conceive may help.
Pineapples are antioxidant-rich, and are packed with vitamins and minerals like beta carotene, vitamin C and copper, which have all been proven to have a positive impact on both female and male infertility.
18. Boosts Energy
If you're feeling sluggish, you'll want to make the most of the energy-boosting benefits of pineapples. These fruits contain manganese, which is used to make energy and protect against cell damage.
19. Supports Mental Health
Finally, pineapple contains an amino acid called tryptophan. This is used by the body to produce serotonin, otherwise known as the happy hormone.
Studies have found that getting plenty of amino acids, as well as vitamin B, can keep your mood positive and even help you sleep. Tryptophan has even been found to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.
Tips for Buying and Eating Pineapple
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are plenty of options when it comes to buying pineapple. It's always healthiest to choose fresh produce when you can, but most supermarkets will sell frozen pineapple chunks for convenience.
Canned pineapple is also an option, but make sure to only go for pineapple that has been canned in its own juices. It's common for pineapple to be canned in syrup, which is delicious, but very high in sugar. It's best to enjoy the natural sugars of pineapple juice when you can.
You can also buy pineapple juice, which offers many of pineapple's health benefits. Drinking pineapple juice is a great way to get in one of your 5-a-day, especially if you have fussy kids who don't like the texture of the fruit itself. Just make sure to stick to the 150 ml serving - anything over this won't add to your 5-a-day, but will add to your daily sugar intake.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy pineapple. The simplest way to serve it is to remove the flesh from the skin and chop it up. Eat alone or combined with other fruits in a delicious fruit salad.
If you enjoy getting inventive, try grilling pineapple slices and combining them with barbecue meats. You could also add frozen pineapples to your blender with yogurt, fruits, and milk and whizz up a quick smoothie. Finally, we couldn't forget about the most controversial pineapple dish of all: Hawaiian pizza.
No matter how what form of pineapple you buy, and how to choose to eat it, there's no denying that this humble yellow fruit is a healthful addition to any diet.
If you're not much of a pineapple lover at the moment, it's time you changed your mindset! There are so many health benefits of pineapple that it's well worth incorporating it into your life.
The great thing about pineapple is that it's sweet and rich in natural sugars, so it's easy to enjoy (unlike, say, broccoli or kale, which are definitely more of an acquired taste). Fresh pineapple is particularly tasty, but the fruit offers similar benefits however you can get your hands on it.
If you want to fight inflammation, boost your immune system, strengthen your hair and nails, and much more, eating pineapple might just be the answer!