Pineapple, scientifically known as Ananas comosus, belongs to the bromeliad family of plants. And interestingly, pineapple is the only known edible fruit produced by this plant family! One pineapple is actually made up of individual berries or fruitlets that grow and fuse together around a central core. While the outer skin is spiny, rough and scaly, the pulp inside is extremely fleshy and bursting with juice.
This lush, exotic topical fruit packs a delicious punch to fruit salads, smoothies, cocktails and jams, and even taste delightful as a pizza topping or in sizzling kebabs. But pineapple surely goes much beyond just tantalizing your taste buds. Rich in nutrients and powerful enzymes, pineapple shows unbelievably high anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that helps to enhance the body’s ability to heal faster from surgeries and injuries, reduce pain and inflammation, lower risk factors for heart diseases, fight cancer and give a promising boost to overall immunity.
Pineapple is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals such Vitamins C, B1, B6, B5, folate, manganese, copper and dietary fiber . Pineapples are also naturally fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium. What imparts pineapples with remarkably high wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties is bromelain – a highly complex mixture of enzymes found in the stem and core of this delicious tropical fruit.
2. Reduces inflammation and promotes wound healing
Pineapple shows truly extraordinary anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties due to its high content of bromelain enzyme which helps to:
- Reduce swelling, bruising, pain and healing time associated with injuries and surgical procedures.
- Reduce pain and inflammation resulting from tendinitis, sprains, strains, and other minor muscle injuries .
- Reduce inflammation of joints in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis .
- Treat, manage and improve the symptoms of acute sinusitis .
- Reduce acute knee pain .
- Heals burns faster. A study published in the Burns Journal found that skin lotions containing bromelain speeds up the recovery and healing of skin burns and reduce inflammation .
- Treat airways related inflammation such as allergic asthma . Bromelain also improves breathing problems associated with an accumulation of thick mucus in the respiratory tract that can cause clogging of bronchial tubes. The enzyme bromelain thins the mucus in the same way it thins the blood.
3. Prevents and fights cancer
The anti-cancer mechanism of bromelain enzyme is believed to be the result of its direct impact on cancer cells and their bio-chemical environment. Bromelain also has the capacity to modulate and down regulate pathways that support malignancy in cells and reinforces our immune system in a number of ways to fight and destroy cancer cells .
While chemotherapy drugs kill healthy cells along with cancer cells, studies suggest that bromelain displays selective cytotoxicity – which means it isolates and destroys cancer cells leaving healthy dividing cells unharmed. A recent study showed that bromelain induces an apoptotic response or programmed cell death in breast cancer cells .
One incredible study published in the journal of Planta Medica , found bromelain superior to the well known chemotherapy drug 5-fluorauracil (5-FU) in its ability to fight cancer. Leukemia, lung carcinoma, melanoma, and mammary tumour treatment was compared. Bromelain extract was introduced into the abdominal cavity of the test animals. The chemotherapy agent 5-FU was used as a control known to have anti-tumour effects. The anti-tumour activity was measured by the survival increase in test animals. Amazingly, with the exception of melanoma, ALL other tumour-bearing animals showed a much greater survival index following bromelain treatment. The largest increase was in mice with EAT ascites who had a 318% survival increase compared to mice receiving 5-FU who had a survival index of 263% compared to the untreated control group.
In addition, according to the American Cancer society bromelain shows remarkable promise in helping to reduce the devastating side effects associated with conventional cancer treatments.
4. Prevents blood coagulation and improves heart health
Bromelain enzyme in pineapple is known to show fibrinolytic properties. It means it can digest excessive fibrin in the blood. Fibrin is an insoluble protein produced by the body in response to inflammation and bleeding to help in the formation of blood clots and wound healing. But in spite of its protective actions, high levels of circulating fibrin can promote blood clots which can reduce and even block the flow of blood to major organs such as the heart, brain and lungs leading to life-threatening diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and pulmonary emboli. Bromelain enzyme can digest fibrin, reduce excessive coagulation of the blood and improve blood circulation. Pineapple is thus beneficial to include in the diet of people at risk of blood clot formation and those with ischaemic heart disease .
Bromelain reduces the formation of plaque in the walls of coronary arteries, a condition that can lead to serious health conditions such as atherosclerosis that can lead to a host of cardiovascular diseases including stroke, and hypertension.
5. Provides excellent anti-oxidant support
Pineapple is a rich source of powerful ant-oxidants – such as manganese, Vitamin C and Vitamin A – helping the body to fight free radicals that can cause oxidative damage to the cellular structures of our tissues and organs. One of these main oxidative enzymes is superoxide dismutase which utilizes manganese to eliminate free radicals that are produced within the mitochondria (the structure in cells that produces energy for cellular function).
Free radicals have been shown to trigger chronic inflammation in the body that can lead to a number of conditions including atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, cancer and diabetes.
6. Improves digestion
Bromelain enzyme, found in the stem or core of a pineapple, is proteolytic in nature. It breaks proteins in the food into smaller segments – helping in digestion and increasing the absorption of other nutrients.
7. Lowers risk of macular degeneration
- In a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology  it was found that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may help to reduce the onset as well as progression of age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that is the main cause of vision loss in the elderly.
- Pineapple, being rich in the antioxidant Vitamin C, plays a very important role in preserving vision. A recent study  showed that increased Vitamin C intake goes a long way to reducing the risk of developing cataracts.
8. Boosts immunity
Pineapple helps body boost immunity in a number of ways.
- Bromelain enzyme activates T-cells – a type of white blood cell that destroy infected cells in the body. Bromelain improves the efficiency of our immune system to help fight viral and bacterial infections much more efficiently. It stimulates the production of special types of proteins called cytokines that acts as chemical messengers to help immune cells communicate with each other better. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism suggests that pineapple can increase the production of white blood cells and reduce the instances of viral and bacterial infections in school children.
- Vitamin C and bromelain enzymes help to build and repair body tissue and promote wound healing, helping the body repair and rejuvenate itself after illness, injuries and trauma.
- Vitamin C in pineapple reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms while keeping many infections at bay.
9. Improves fertility
It is said that the blend of antioxidant vitamins and minerals in Pineapple such as as Vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, zinc and copper all play an important role in improving both male and female fertility.
10. Helps in energy production
Pineapple is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and the trace mineral manganese. Both of these nutrients act as important cofactors in enzymatic reactions that are responsible for producing energy.
Interesting Pineapple Facts
- The pineapple plant is native to South America.
- The word pineapple is derived from the Spanish word “piña”, meaning pine cone.
- Did you know that a pineapple plant produces only one fruit every 2 years?
- You can plant the crown of the pineapple in the soil to grow a new plant.
- Young pineapple plants look exactly like giant, buried pineapples.
- The pineapple canneries do not discard the skin, core and stems of a fruit. All these items are used to make many other products such as vinegar, alcohol and animal feed.
- Pineapple is used in meat marinades as a tenderising agent because the enzyme bromelain helps to break down proteins in the meat.
Storage and selection
- Choose pineapples that are free of spots and smell sweet and fresh. Avoid fruit with a sour or fermented smell.
- Look for pineapples that seem heavy for their size for more edible flesh.
- When you buy a pineapple that looks unripe, don’t save it for weeks as it will not ripen any more once harvested.
- You can leave pineapple at room temperature for up to one or two days.
- It will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three to five days if you wrap it in a plastic bag.
- Cut pieces of pineapple should always be stored in the refrigerator in a container that is air-tight. To retain freshness and juiciness, you can place the fruit pieces in some pineapple juice.
Quick tips to add pineapple to your food
- Fresh pineapple juice is a refreshing, healthy way to kick start your mornings.
- Make fresh pineapple salsa for your fish tacos.
- Add chunks of fresh pineapple to salads or yogurt.
- Have it in smoothies or add fresh pineapple juice to make delicious healthy mocktails.
- Add pineapple slices to kebabs and burgers.
- Pineapple, raw, all varieties. Self Nutition Data.
- Ayoola I Aiyegbusi, Olaleye O Olabiyi, Francis I O Duru, Cressie C Noronha, Abayomi O Okanlawon. A comparative study of the effects of bromelain and fresh pineapple juice on the early phase of healing in acute crush achilles tendon injury. J Med Food. 2011 Apr;14(4):348-52. Epub 2011 Jan 23.
- Sarah Brien, George Lewith, Ann Walker, Stephen M. Hicks, and Dick Middleton. Bromelain as a Treatment for Osteoarthritis: a Review of Clinical Studies. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. 2004 Dec; 1(3): 251–257.
- Braun JM, Schneider B, Beuth HJ. Therapeutic use, efficiency and safety of the proteolytic pineapple enzyme Bromelain-POS in children with acute sinusitis in Germany. In Vivo(Athens, Greece). 2005;19:417-21.
- Walker AF, Bundy R, Hicks SM, Middleton RW. Bromelain reduces mild acute knee pain and improves well-being in a dose-dependent fashion in an open study of otherwise healthy adults. Phytomedicine : International journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology. 2002 Dec;9(8):681-6.
- Rosenberg L, Krieger, Silberstein E, Arnon O, Sinelnikov I A, Bogdanov-Berezosky A, Singer A J. Selectivity of a bromelain based enzymatic debridement agent: a porcine study. Burns : journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries. 2012 Nov;38(7):1035-40. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2012.02.011. Epub 2012 Mar 3.
- Secor ER Jr, Shah SJ, Guernsey LA, Schramm CM, Thrall RS. Bromelain limits airway inflammation in an ovalbumin-induced murine model of established asthma. Alternative therapies in health and medicines. 2012 Sep-Oct;18(5):9-17.
- Chobotova K, Vernallis AB, Majid FA. Bromelain’s activity and potential as an anti-cancer agent: Current evidence and perspectives. Cancer letters. 2010 Apr 28;290(2):148-56. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2009.08.001. Epub 2009 Aug 22.
- Sivanesan Dhandayuthapani, Honey Diaz Perez, Alexandra Paroulek, Panneerselvam Chinnakkannu, Umadevi Kandalam, Mark Jaffe, and Appu Rathinavelu. Bromelain-Induced Apoptosis in GI-101A Breast Cancer Cells. Journal of Medicinal Food. April 2012, 15(4): 344-349. doi:10.1089/jmf.2011.0145.
- Báez R, Lopes MT, Salas CE, Hernández M. In vivo antitumoral activity of stem pineapple (Ananas comosus) bromelain. Planta medica. 2007 Oct;73(13):1377-83. Epub 2007 Sep 24.
- Bela Juhasz, Mahesh Thirunavukkarasu, Rima Pant, Lijun Zhan, Suresh Varma Penumathsa, Eric R Secor, Sapna Srivastava, Utpal Raychaudhuri, Venugopal P Menon, Hajime Otani, Roger S Thrall, Nilanjana Maulik. Bromelain induces cardioprotection against ischemia-reperfusion injury through Akt/FOXO pathway in rat myocardium. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2008 Mar;294(3):H1365-70. Epub 2008 Jan 11. PMID: 18192224.
- Cho E, Seddon JM, Rosner B, Willett WC, Hankinson SE. Prospective study of intake of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and carotenoids and risk of age-related maculopathy. Archives of Ophthalmology (Chicago, III. : 1960). 2004 Jun;122(6):883-92.
- Wei L, Liang G, Cai C, Lv J. Association of vitamin C with the risk of age-related cataract: a meta-analysis. Acta Ophthalmologica. 2015 Mar 4. doi: 10.1111/aos.12688. [Epub ahead of print]
- Cervo M M, Llido L O, Barrios E B, Panlasiqui L N (2014) Effects of canned pineapple consumption on nutritional status, immunomodulation, and physical health of selected school children. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, doi: 10.1155/2014/861659. Epub 2014 Nov 20.