7 Science-Backed Reasons To Eat More Pineapple
If the only time you eat pineapple is when it's served on the rim of your summer piña colada or in a fruit tray at a company meeting, you're missing out. This tropical fruit fits into every meal, can be eaten fresh or frozen, and is not slacking at all in the nutrition department. In fact, there are numerous benefits of pineapple you need to know about.
And the sugar in this fruit? That's not so bad, either.
"Because fruit contains carbohydrates and naturally occurring sugars, many people are concerned about eating too much fruit," says Sarah Rueven, RD, CDN and the founder of Rooted Wellness. "But it's hard to eat too much fruit if you are eating it in its whole form [and] including pineapple in your diet is a great way to boost overall health."
How to eat more pineapple
You can eat pineapple at all times of the day. Here are creative ways to add pineapple to your meals:
- Breakfast: Blend fresh or frozen pineapple into smoothies, bake it into healthy carrot muffins, or simply serve up a one-cup serving alongside your usual breakfast grain-of-choice.
- Lunch: Add thinly-sliced pineapple to a grilled chicken sandwich, top pork tenderloin with pineapple salsa, or assemble a pineapple BBQ veggie burger.
- Dinner: Saute diced pineapple with homemade fried rice, include pineapple chunks in your favorite shish kebab recipe, or grill it and add to fish tacos.
Now that you'll never run out of ways to eat it, here are 7 science-backed benefits of pineapple.
1. It helps with digestion.
One of the most well-known benefits of pineapple is its digestion-promotion prowess. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which is a gastrointestinal (GI) miracle worker.
"The fiber and bromelain found in pineapple work together to promote a healthy functioning digestive system," says Amy Shapiro, RD, CDN and founder of Real Nutrition. "The fiber helps move things along, while the bromelain can help reduce any inflammation within the stomach lining.
Shapiro adds that researchers at Duke University treated mice who suffered from colitis with active bromelain enzymes, and reported that long-term use resulted in decreased inflammation throughout the colon.
2. It may help with arthritis.
Bromelain doesn't just reduce inflammation: Rueven says that eating foods rich in bromelain may reduce the pain associated with chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
In a 2004 study published in Clinical Rheumatology, patients taking an oral supplement with bromelain reported less arthritis pain after six weeks, compared with a group taking an NSAID for pain relief.
3. It can boost your serotonin levels.
Eating pineapple regularly could make your body and brain feel good. (And no, not just because your happy hour cocktail came served in a hollowed-out pineapple!)
"Pineapple is high in the amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid is used to make one of our most important mood-boosting neurotransmitters: serotonin," says Shapiro.
Serotonin levels, particularly when they are too low, play a role in many mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. Some studies suggest that tryptophan supplementation can be an effective depression treatment in comparison to tricyclic antidepressants. (Of course, if you're struggling with a mental health disorder, the answer isn't as simple as eating more pineapple. You should always seek help from a healthcare provider with questions about your health.)
4. It can improve your bone and joint health.
Raw pineapple contains a hefty dose of manganese. This mineral may help prevent bone loss in patients with osteoporosis. Additionally, manganese may reduce pain in patients with osteoarthritis when combined with other supplements.
One 2000 study published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage showed an improvement of symptoms in patients receiving a combination of glucosamine, chondroitin, and manganese versus a placebo group. Elsewhere, an Annals of the Academy of Medicine study from 2008 found a link between manganese and spinal bone loss in menopausal women with osteoporosis.
5. It can help you heal faster.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, research in both humans and animals shows that the topical application of bromelain, pineapple's wonder enzyme, can be useful in aiding the skin healing process of burns. Some research also suggests that bromelain may be therapeutic for soft tissue injuries, particularly muscle soreness after exercise and bruising, per a 2016 review published in Biomedical Reports.
6. It can strengthen your immune system.
"Pineapple delivers when it comes to getting in your daily vitamin C requirements. One cup of cut pineapple serves up 131 percent of your needs," says Shapiro.
According to Rueven, that's definitely not anything to sneeze at. Vitamin C not only improves your immune system function, but it can also help your body form collagen. Collagen is the protein responsible for the health and elasticity of your skin, joints, and muscles.
7. It's packed with antioxidants.
Pineapples contain high amounts of antioxidants known as flavonoids. These compounds are associated with reducing the impact of several chronic health and age-related conditions, from asthma to heart disease.
For example, a 2008 review in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests flavonoids suppress inflammation in the central nervous system; meanwhile, a 2013 review in the Journal of Nutrition and Biochemistry points toward the role of flavonoids in stabilizing glucose levels and reducing insulin resistance.