Removing a pineapple’s spiny skin or opening a can is well worth your trouble. Apart from a rich source of vitamin C, pineapples also contain substances that keep your bones strong and promote digestion.
Inflammation fighter in laboratory studies and also in human studies, the bromelain in pineapples has showed to ease swelling and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, soft tissue injuries, inflammatory conditions in the colon, and even chronic pain.
In a recent lab study at the University of Connecticut, researchers discovered that bromelain reduced the level of cosinophils by half, the main inflammatory cells associated with asthma. “May be it could cut down on steroid use – the standard treatment for asthma patients – and so decrease the side effects sometimes seen with long term steroid use,” – according to head researcher Eric Secor, ND, a naturopathic physician at the University. But don’t give up your asthma meds just yet. “Asthma is a very serious disease. It can be life-threatening,” he says. “I don’t want people throwing away their inhalers.”
Bromelain could even speed up healing time and decrease pain and bruising after surgery. In Germany, the government agency that regulates herbs and other supplements has approved bromelain for healing after injuries and surgical procedures – and for easing swelling in the nose and sinuses after operations involving the ears, nose, and throat. You need calcium to prevent osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease that primarily affects postmenopausal women. But your bones need manganese as well. Your body uses manganese to make collagen, a tough, fibrous protein that helps build connective tissues like bone, skin, and cartilage. When people are deficient in manganese, they can develop bone problems which are similar to osteoporosis. A study showed that women with osteoporosis had lower levels of manganese than women who didn’t have the disease. “Eating fresh pineapple or drinking pineapple juice is a good way to add manganese to your diet,” says Jeanne Freeland Graves, PhD, professor of nutrition at the University of Texas in Austin. A cup of fresh pineapple chunks or pineapple juice will provide you more than 2 milligrams of manganese, which is more than 100% of the Daily Value (DV).
Pineapple has been known for centuries for its ability to relieve indigestion. The reason for this is that fresh pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps digestion by breaking down protein. This could be important for some older people with low levels of stomach acid, which is needed for protein digestion. Of course, it’s unlikely that even lovers of pineapple will eat it after every meal. But if you are older and have frequent indigestion, adding a few pineapple slices to your dessert plate might help to keep your stomach calm.
A Great Source of Vitamin C
Among the nutrients, vitamin C gets the most attention. And for good reason. As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C helps to fight off free radicals. Which are unstable oxygen molecules that damage cells and take part in the development of cancer and heart disease. Also, our body uses vitamin C to make collagen, the “glue” that holds tissues and bones together. And when you have a cold, vitamin C is probably the first thing you reach for. It reduces the level of a chemical called histamine, which is the cause of cold symptoms like watery eyes and a runny nose.
Although pineapples are not as rich in vitamin C as oranges or grapefruits, they are still excellent sources. For example, one cup of pineapple chunks contains about 24 milligrams of vitamin C, or 40% of the DV. Juice is even better. A glass of canned pineapple juice contains 60 milligrams, or 100% of the DV.
Tips for getting the most benefits:
Buy them fresh. Canned pineapple is convenient, but when you want to eat it to soothe an upset stomach, fresh fruit is the best, because the intense heat used in canning destroys the bromelain.
Pick the best. The next time you buy pineapple, look for a “Gold” pineapple. This variety is imported from Costa Rica and is exceptionally sweet, and it contains more than four times more vitamin C than other varieties.
Get some juice. Canned pineapple juice is an excellent way to get your DV of vitamin C. Because 4 ounces of pineapple juice contains more vitamin C than the same amount of apple, cranberry or tomato juice.
To get the anti-inflammatory benefits, eat pineapple as an in between meals snack. The bromelain in pineapple has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, according to bromelain researcher Dr. Eric Secor. Studies indicate that it can sooth irritated sinuses and swollen sore throats. Ease arthritis inflammation and even helps to heal cuts and scrapes faster. Eat pineapple alone to get the most benefits. Otherwise, the bromelain will be deactivated as it helps digest protein in the other foods that you eat.
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