Eat Pineapples to Boost Immunity and Digestive Health

Pineapple (Ananas comosus L.) is a wonderful tropical fruit with numerous health benefits.

This juicy fruit contains manifold vitamins, minerals, and potent antioxidants that have been shown to prevent certain chronic diseases.

In fact, the use of pineapples for the prevention and treatment of different diseases has been recognized since ancient times, when they were used for fevers and wound healing, kidney stones pain-relieving and toxins neutralization.

Recent advances have shown the hepatoprotective and cancer-fighting activities of pineapples and recommended their daily intake as part of a healthy diet.

Here are 6 amazing health benefits of pineapples.

  1. Packed with Nutrients

Pineapples may be low in calories, but they are high in vitamins and minerals.

One cup (165 grams) of pineapple chunks has just 82 calories but provides a significant amount of fiber, vitamins, water and different minerals that are beneficial to digestion. More specifically (1):

  • Energy: 345 kJ
  • Dietary Fiber:31 g
  • Carbs:6 g
  • Protein:891 g
  • Iron: 3% of the recommended DV
  • Magnesium: 4% of the recommended DV
  • Calcium:4 mg
  • Potassium: 180 mg
  • Phosphorus:2 mg
  • Zinc: 198 mcg
  • Folate: 7% of the recommended DV
  • Vitamin A: 1% of the recommended DV
  • Vitamin B6: 10% of the recommended DV
  • Vitamin C: 131% of the recommended DV

This fruit is particularly high in folic acid (folate), a water-soluble B complex vitamin involved in fetal growth, congenital heart defects and neural tube defect prevention, allergies treatment and neglected topical diseases (NTDs) risk reduction (2).

Folic acid also has an excellent antioxidant activity, reversing endothelial dysfunction, improving endothelial function and reducing carotid intima-media thickness, all of which are cardiovascular disease risk factors (3).

Pineapples are also rich in potassium which plays a vital role in blood pressure reduction, stroke prevention and bone health promotion.

  1. Loaded with Beneficial Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that prevent vital molecules from oxidative damage, a disturbance in the balance of free radicals and antioxidants that attacks normal cells and contributes to neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases, including atherosclerosis, diabetes, certain cancers and Parkinson’s disease.

Pineapples are a reliable source of antioxidants, most notably vitamin C, flavonoids and phenolic compounds.

Particularly, vitamin C is involved in iron absorption, bone collagen formation, endothelial cells support and immune health.

Several sources of evidence have recognized the antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal activities of flavonoids. For example, a study showed that flavonoids protect membrane lipids from oxidation (4).

To sum up, the antioxidant activity of pineapples is well-established and exerts preventive effects on various chronic diseases.

  1. Boosts Immunity and Fights Inflammation

Throughout history, pineapples have been recognized for their culinary and medicinal values.

They are particularly high in vitamins, minerals, proteolytic enzymes and other beneficial nutrients to the immune defense system and chronic inflammatory reactions.

One study has shown that one of those proteolytic enzymes called bromelain has potent immunological effects and serves as an anti-inflammatory and wound healing agent (5).

Another more recent study examined the effects of canned pineapple consumption of both the innate and adaptive immune system of 98 school children and found it increases the production of granulocytes, a type of white blood cell regarded as the first line of defense of the immune system and that mediate inflammation (6).

What is more, a 2018 study accentuated the key role played by neutrophil —a type of granulocytes— in homeostasis and diseases such as atherosclerosis and gout (7).

Overall, pineapples have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities at various levels, which may protect against multiple inflammatory and chronic diseases, such as acute sinusitis.

  1. Boosts Digestive Health

Pineapples are a rich source of dietary fiber and digestive enzymes, most notably bromelain.

Bromelain is a proteolytic digestive enzyme which aids in the digestion of proteins by breaking them down into small chains of amino acids (8).

Multiple population studies have shown that bromelain can help treat physical injuries, improve gut microbiota, relieve hemorrhoid, enhance the performance of the kidney and stimulate digestion.

For example, a study in 16 nursing-home patients published in the Nutrition Journal reported that bromelain improves protein utilization in the elderly (9).

All in all, pineapples are considered a digestive aid thanks to their bromelain content. It is widely available both naturally in pineapple stem or synthetically as a supplement for people with digestive problems.

  1. Soothes the Symptoms of Arthritis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arthritis affects more than 54.4 million US adults (10).

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, but the most common ones are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout and lupus.

Pineapples can relieve the pain and swelling in patients with inflammatory arthritis thanks to their bromelain content which has potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.

A study on the use of bromelain for the treatment of osteoarthritis reviewed the mechanisms of therapeutic action of this enzyme and reported it can fight infection and has the potential to be an effective treatment for both knee and shoulder osteoarthritis (11).

Nonetheless, research on the optimal dosage and length of treatment of arthritis using bromelain is still in its infancy, so keep an eye out for new advances.

  1. Have Cancer-Fighting Compounds

In general, consumption of adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, including mouth, lung, colorectal and stomach.

Several sources of evidence have shown that bromelain is involved in the suppression of cancer cells and slowing cancer progression.

One of those sources is a 2019 study that examined the role of bromelain in colorectal cancer and found that bromelain has favorable effects on both caspase-dependent and caspase-independent apoptotic pathways, which are two of the main hallmarks of cancer (12).

Another study reported that increasing concentrations of bromelain stimulated programmed cell death, or apoptosis, in breast cancer (13).

If you are a cancer patient, make sure to consult with your oncologist to check if you are allergic to pineapples and determine the right dosage.

Overall, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially in pineapples, induce preventive effects against certain cancers.