One Major Side Effect of Eating Pineapple, Says Dietitian
As far as summer fruits go, it's hard to beat the reigning queen herself, the pineapple (she literally comes with a crown!). Even if pineapple didn't look as regal as it does, there's more than enough health benefits to help it rise to the top of the summer fruit food pyramid: this sweet and tangy fruit is packed full of vitamins and minerals, can aid in digestion, and works equally well served on chicken kebabs as it does on the side of a pina colada glass.
In just one cup of fresh pineapple, you'll get more than 100% of your daily value of vitamin C and 180 milligrams of potassium. Pineapple is also loaded with an enzyme called bromelain, which registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, RD author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, says acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Studies have shown bromelain to be potentially beneficial in a wide variety of applications; topically, it can aid in the healing of burns, bruises, muscle strain, and tendonitis, and when taken orally, it may be able to reduce inflammation in people with everything from arthritis to gum disease to sinusitis.
So what's not to love? You should eat as much pineapple as you want, right?
Hang on—it's not all good news. Yes, pineapple is good for you, but too much of anything usually brings trouble. Although pineapple doesn't contain enough bromelain to be used for medicinal purposes (you would need a dietary supplement or topical treatment for that), too much of it can still cause discomfort in your mouth, throat, and stomach.
"Eating too much pineapple, and therefore too much bromelain, can lead to negative side effects [like] tongue irritation and a burning sensation," says Palinski-Wade.
FYI, that's just for the average pineapple-eater; for people especially sensitive to bromelain, Palinski-Wade says eating too much pineapple can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Of course, this reaction isn't super common and has been seen more often in research studies, with people taking a bromelain supplement rather than eating a ton of pineapple. Unless you're allergic to pineapple (which is a whole other thing), you're not likely to feel physically ill after indulging in pineapple.
How to avoid this irritating side effect of eating pineapple.
Still, it might be worth taking a more conservative approach to eating pineapple to avoid the uncomfortable side effects of bromelain, like indigestion, oral irritation, and GI upset.
If this comes as a crushing disappointment to you (you were really looking forward to all those pineapple-infused drinks by the pool!), you might still be able to chow down on this sunny, nutritious fruit…with some modifications.
"Try grilling or cooking your pineapple instead, as this helps to break down the [bromelain] and reduces these side effects," advises Palinski-Wade. "If you prefer fresh pineapple, remember that the highest levels of bromelain are in the stem and core—so avoid eating raw pineapple from these parts to lessen the potential discomfort."
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