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The health benefits of pineapple

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Pineapple is packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals and contains an enzyme called bromelain. Discover why that makes this tropical fruit so healthy.

What is pineapple?

Pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a tropical fruit known for its iconic shape – a sphere of sweet and juicy flesh surrounded by a tough, segmented skin, with a tuft of spiky green leaves on top. The fruit is actually a collection of flowers, each with its own eye which is fused around the central core, which takes a staggering three years to mature.

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Discover our full range of health benefit guides and check out some of our delicious pineapple recipes, from belly pork & pineapple burritos to the sweet and sharp flavours of our green salmon with pineapple & tamarind salad.

Nutritional benefits of pineapple

An 80g serving of fresh pineapple provides:

  • 33Kcal / 141KJ
  • 0.3g Protein
  • 0.2g Fat
  • 8.1g Carbohydrate
  • 1.3g Fibre
  • 128mg Potassium
  • 10mg Vitamin C

Whether you choose fresh or canned pineapple, an 80g serving counts towards your five-a-day, but if you do opt for the canned variety, choose a product with no added sugar. A single glass (150ml) of unsweetened pineapple juice also counts, but be aware that this is high in sugars and can be damaging to teeth.

Pineapple and pink grapefruit salad slices on a plate with cutlery

Top 5 health benefits of pineapple

1. May aid digestion

Being a rich source of fibre, fruit like pineapple may help support a healthy digestive system. Furthermore, the enzymes in pineapple, known as bromelain breaks down proteins into their smaller building blocks of amino acids and peptides, and is active in both the acid environment of the stomach and the alkaline conditions of the small intestine. This makes it an extremely useful digestive aid for those who don’t digest their food properly, especially for those with pancreatic insufficiency, a condition in which the pancreas fails to produce enough digestive enzymes.

Although research into the anti-inflammatory effect of bromelain on alleviating the symptoms of inflammatory bowel conditions, such as ulcerative colitis looks promising, more evidence is needed before this benefit can be proven in humans.

2. May promote healing after injury

A number of studies suggest that bromelain helps reduce inflammation, swelling and bruising after injury or surgery. It can even be useful if taken before dental surgery, when it appears to help reduce pain and provide as much relief as anti-inflammatory medication.

In vitro research (conducted in a test tube) has also demonstrated bromelain’s value in wound healing.

3. May help relieve the symptoms of arthritis

Numerous studies, dating back as far as the 1960s have demonstrated how useful bromelain can be in the relief of the inflammatory pain associated with arthritis. It appears to have this analgesic action through a direct influence on the chemical mediators that are involved in our perception of pain.

4. May support immunity

A nine-week study of school children who ate either a moderate amount of canned pineapple (140g) or a large amount (280g) every day, had a significantly lower risk of catching a viral or bacterial infection than those who ate none. In addition to this, those who ate the higher amount had four times the number of infection-fighting white immune cells.

The anti-inflammatory properties of bromelain also appear to be valuable in helping modulate the immune system, and may be especially valid for those with auto-immune conditions.

5. May support the cardiovascular system

Once again, it is bromelain that appears to have value to the heart and circulatory system through its action on preventing or minimising the severity of attacks of angina and transient ischaemic attack (TIA). It’s also thought that bromelain may break down the cholesterol plaques, responsible for hardening of the arteries which may lead to a condition called atherosclerosis.

Animal studies suggest bromelain also influences blood clotting by inhibiting the production of a protein called fibrin which is involved in blood coagulation.

Is pineapple safe for everyone?

Unless you experience an allergy to pineapple it is generally recognised as safe for most people when included as part of a healthy, balanced diet. However, eating or drinking large quantities may cause digestive upset. Avoid the unripe fruit as this can cause diarrhoea and throat irritation.

Speak to your GP or healthcare provider if you’re concerned about allergies or you have a relevant health condition.

Healthy pineapple recipes

Thai squash & pineapple curry
Pineapple & pink grapefruit with mint sugar
Jerk pork & pineapple skewers with black beans & rice
Frozen fruit sticks with passion fruit & lime drizzle
Sweet & sour chicken & veg
Thai red duck with sticky pineapple rice
Griddled swordfish with pineapple & chilli salsa
Skinny Thai burgers with sweet potato chips & pineapple salsa

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This article was last reviewed on 6 October 2021 by Kerry Torrens.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

Kerry Torrens is a qualified nutritionist (MBANT) with a postgraduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the past 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

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All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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