Pineapple is a delicious and healthy tropical fruit. It is highly valued due to its aroma, juiciness, and overall appearance.
Not only is it one of the most palatable fruits, but it also contains a plethora of nutrients and comes with some mighty health benefits.
Keep reading to find out all you need to know about pineapple.
Table of Contents
- History & Facts
- Nutrition Facts
- Health Benefits
- Ways To Consume
- Potential Risks
- Frequently Asked Questions
History & Facts
Pineapple, also known as Ananas comosus, is a tropical fruit that comes from the plant family Bromeliaceae. Historically it is from South America. They were traditionally used medicinally in South and Central America for treating digestion problems and inflammation (1). Some cultures today still use pineapple for medicinal reasons. Although they may all look similar, several different varieties of pineapple may be grown. The most popular type of pineapple in the U.S. is called Smooth Cayenne.
Pineapples were brought to Europe in the 16th century by Christopher Columbus. During that time it was considered a rare fruit and could only be purchased by those who were wealthy.
Today, pineapples grow in tropical and subtropical countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and China. It is currently ranked third in the production of tropical fruit after bananas and citrus (2).
Did You Know?:The name pineapple in English came from “pina” in Spanish because it looks similar to a pinecone.
Pineapple overall is relatively low in calories and high in several nutrients. In general, regular consumption of fruits like pineapple can help prevent diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (3).
In one cup (around 165 grams) of raw pineapple, there are the following macronutrients (4):
- Calories: 82.5 calories (kcal)
- Protein: 0.9 grams (g)
- Fat: 0.2 grams (g)
- Carbohydrate: 21.6 grams (g)
- Fiber: 2.3 grams (g)
As you can see, pineapple is lower in calories than other fruit and higher in fiber. This makes them a nutrient-dense food. This means you get a high number of nutrients in relation to its weight.
Summary:Pineapples are relatively low in calories and high in fiber and nutrient-dense.
Vitamins and Minerals
In one cup (around 165 grams) of raw pineapple, there are loads of vitamins and minerals (5):
- Calcium: 21.4 milligrams (mg)
- Magnesium: 19.8 milligrams (mg)
- Potassium: 180 milligrams (mg)
- Vitamin C: 79 milligrams (mg)
- Folate: 29.7 micrograms (mcg)
- Choline: 9.08 milligrams (mg)
- Beta carotene: 57.8 micrograms (mcg)
- Vitamin K: 1.16 micrograms (mcg)
As you can see, pineapples are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential, meaning the body does not produce it on its own. Vitamin C must be obtained through the diet and can result in scurvy if there is a vitamin C deficiency (6). It has many functions in the body and also plays a role as an antioxidant (7). This vitamin helps the body with different metabolic processes, aids in the absorption of iron, promotes the healing of wounds, helps increase collagen production, and supports hormonal regulation.
Pineapple also contains a significant amount of folate, which is another nutrient that cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained from the diet. Folate is important for metabolism and important for women of childbearing age and/or during pregnancy (8). Folate is important to get enough of to prevent neural tube defects in newborns. Not eating enough folate may cause other chronic diseases like heart disease, autism, and Alzheimer’s (9).
Lastly, pineapple contains an important trace element called manganese. Manganese is important for energy production most of all (10). It may also help with blood sugar control, and improve insulin resistance. Additionally, manganese can help prevent skeletal defects and decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes (11).
Summary:Pineapple is full of vitamins and minerals and is especially a good source of vitamin C, folate, and manganese.
Pineapple not only has several vitamins and minerals, but it also is a food that has unique health benefits. One of the main components in the pineapple that contributes to its health benefits is an enzyme called bromelain (12). Bromelain is in all parts of the pineapple including the stem. Find out more about bromelain in pineapple and its benefits.
Did You Know?:You can grow pineapple plants by slicing off the top of a pineapple and planting it in the soil.
Helps Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is part of the body’s defense mechanism. It is the process by which the immune system recognizes and removes harmful and foreign cells and begins the healing process (13). Free radicals are identified by the body as foreign, can cause cell damage and therefore increase inflammation. Something that can help combat free radicals are antioxidants.
Studies have shown that pineapple is a good source of antioxidants (14). Decreasing overall inflammation may help with decreasing the number of harmful cells in the body being produced called reactive oxygen species (15). This may help treat symptoms of chronic inflammation like body pain, fatigue, weight gain, mental health, and infections.
Bromelain in pineapple has various potential uses as an anti-inflammatory agent in addition to an antioxidant, anti-cancer activity, and cardioprotective agent (16). The vitamin C in pineapple has also been noted as an antioxidant that can help combat inflammation, too.
Summary:Pineapple contains antioxidants and bromelain, which have been found to help decrease inflammation and the risk of diseases.
It May Promote Digestive Health
Pineapple is a fruit with a good source of dietary fiber, 2.3 grams in one cup. Therefore pineapple is considered an effective fruit that helps promote bowel movements, prevent constipation, and improve overall digestive function (17). In addition to promoting digestive health, getting enough fiber can reduce the risk of diabetes, colon cancer, and stroke (18).
Summary:Pineapple is a good source of fiber, which can help promote digestion and prevent constipation.
Ways To Consume
Pineapples are tasty and sweet and are a simple fruit to add to your diet. You can often find pineapple in grocery stores year-round, even when pineapple is not in its peak season. If you don’t want to buy it fresh, try buying it frozen or canned, both of which are also great options.
Here are a few ways that you can incorporate more pineapple into foods you may already eat or may want to start trying:
- Eat it raw: The naturally sweet and juicy flavor of pineapple makes it the most simple and maybe best way to eat. Try cutting it up into whatever shape you prefer and enjoy.
- Add it to a smoothie: Pineapple is a great fruit to add to smoothies. It can give almost any smoothie a great flavor. Try throwing in other fruits like strawberry, banana, yogurt, and/or milk, and blend them for an easy yet delicious smoothie recipe.
- Add it to fruit salad: Cut up some pineapple with your other favorite fruits and mix in a bowl for a decadent fruit salad! You can add some fruit juice and chopped-up mint or basil for additional flavors.
- Flavor your water: Try adding pineapple by itself or mix it with other fruit to your water to give it a refreshing and fruity taste.
- Add it to pizza: never tried pineapple on pizza before? Hopefully reading this article will encourage you to give it a shot!
- Put on burgers or sandwiches: Cut pineapple into rings and add it to your favorite sandwich or burger for a sweet and savory flavor.
Fun Fact:Pineapples can take up to 3 years to mature and ripen and do not ripen after being picked.
In general, pineapple is safe to eat for most people. However, people with certain medical conditions or on certain medications may need to be cautious when it comes to eating pineapple.
- It May Affect the Absorption of Certain Medications: As mentioned above, pineapple contains bromelain. If you are on certain medications and eat pineapple, the bromelain in the pineapple can increase the absorption of medications, although these studies have only been confirmed in animals (19). Some of the medications mentioned that absorption may be increased include certain antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and blood pressure medication (20). Consuming too much pineapple can also have side effects with some medicines such as antibiotics, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants (21).
- It May Leave an Unpleasant Feeling on Your Tongue: Ever get a weird tingling sensation in the back of your throat when you eat pineapple? Or a sudden urge to itch your tongue? The reason this may happen to you sometimes is because of the enzyme we’ve mentioned called bromelain. Since bromelain is an enzyme, it breaks down tissue that it comes into contact with, including the tissue on your tongue. If this happens to you, try letting the pineapple turn to room temperature. You could also try warming up the pineapple and also be sure you are not eating the core of it. Don’t worry, the sensation won’t last long and the cells in your mouth will regenerate quickly.
- It May Cause an Allergic Reaction: For most people, pineapple does not cause any allergic reactions. However, for some people, pineapple may cause allergic reactions and develop symptoms like itchy skin, throat, and even shortness of breath. If any issues like this occur when eating pineapple, contact a doctor and avoid eating pineapple.
Fun Fact:Although pineapples are relatively low risk to consume, some people should ask their doctor to make sure it is safe with certain medications. It can cause an unpleasant feeling on the tongue for some people. Some people may have a food allergy to pineapple.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Get My Pineapple to Ripen Quicker?
If you find your pineapple is not yet ripe and looking too green, one thing you can do to speed up its ripening is by placing it in a paper bag. Placing it in the bag along with a banana can also help speed up the process.
Can I Use Pineapple as a meat tenderizer?
Yes! The bromelain in pineapple softens muscle fibers since it is an enzyme. Once the enzyme comes into contact with protein like steak, it starts working immediately to break it down. The longer you let it marinate, the more broken down the meat will become, resulting in a tender taste. The pineapple also gives the meat a nice flavor.
How do I know if my pineapple is ripe?
When looking for a ripe pineapple, it should be mostly yellow. It should feel firm but slightly soft if you give it a light squeeze. If it is super hard to the touch and firm, it is not likely ripe. Another method you can try is by pulling on the leaves of the pineapple. If they come out easily, it is more likely to be ripe and ready to eat.
Did You Know?:A pineapple is not a pine or an apple. It’s a berry.
Pineapples are sweet, juicy, versatile, and packed with nutrients like fiber and antioxidants.
They are available nearly year-round and so simple to add to your diet.
Pineapple fruit offers a ton of health benefits like helping reduce inflammation in the body and helping aid in digestion. Try some pineapple today!