The Secret Weapon That Makes Pineapple So Amazing

A few years ago, a popular science website (with a rather raunchy name) posted an article on their Facebook page that went viral with millions of views, 6500 shares, and over 5000 colorful comments. You’d think that it might be an article about cats or cute little kids or something like that with viral potential. But no…not this time. This was the headline: Why Does Eating Pineapple Make Your Mouth Sore?  Who would have known that eating pineapple could ignite such a social media storm? Well, it turns out that the answer to the question in the headline lies deep within the core and stem of the pineapple…in the form of a naturally occurring digestive enzyme called bromelain. 

Bromelain was discovered by chemists at the Dole company (go figure) in 1957. Since then, bromelain has been extensively studied and determined to be not only the reason why your mouth might sting when you eat pineapple…but also a powerful healing compound for a variety of medical problems. This article by my team at UpWellness will “break down” (pun intended…you’ll get it when you read the article) the many benefits of bromelain.


-Dr. Josh      

The Secret that Makes Pineapple so Amazing (Bromelain)

Pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a delicious, nutritious, and healthy tropical fruit that originated in South Africa. The early European explorers thought that it resembled a pinecone, hence its name. 

Pineapple boasts an incredible nutritional profile and is loaded with health-promoting compounds such as antioxidants and a select group of digestive enzymes (the secret weapon) that squash inflammation and fight disease. In fact, this impressive fruit has been found to do everything from improving digestion and boosting immunity to accelerating recovery after surgery and more. 

Here are some convincing reasons why you should eat more pineapple:

Pineapples have an impressive nutritional profile

Just one cup (5.8 ounces) of pineapple chunks contains all of this goodness:

  • Calories: 82.5
  • Fat: 1.7 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Carbs: 21.6 grams
  • Fiber: 2.3 grams
  • Vitamin C: 131% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 76% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 9% of the RDI
  • Copper: 9% of the RDI
  • Thiamin: 9% of the RDI
  • Folate: 7% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 5% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 5% of the RDI
  • Niacin: 4% of the RDI
  • Pantothenic acid: 4% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin: 3% of the RDI
  • Iron: 3% of the RDI

In addition, pineapples also contain small amounts of vitamins A and K, phosphorus, zinc, and calcium. The high amount of vitamin C is excellent for growth and development, a robust immune system, and helping with the absorption of iron in the diet. Manganese is a naturally occurring mineral that aids growth, maintains a healthy metabolism, and has powerful antioxidant properties.

Pineapples contain powerful, health-promoting antioxidants

When free radicals go wild in the body, oxidative stress takes over. These free radicals mingle with the body’s cells and can cause damage linked to chronic inflammation, a depressed immune system, and the acceleration of several harmful diseases. As a bonus, a number of the antioxidants found in pineapple are bound, which means that they will survive harsh conditions and create longer-lasting results in the body.

Pineapple contains bromelain, a group of digestive enzymes

Bromelain occurs naturally in pineapple and is also sold as a supplement used to reduce pain and swelling. These enzymes function as proteases that break down protein molecules into smaller building blocks, including amino acids and small peptides. When protein molecules are broken down, they can be easily absorbed into the small intestine. Many people struggle with making enough digestive enzymes on their own, which leads to gastrointestinal disturbance. In one study, participants with compromised pancreas performance had better digestion after taking digestive enzymes containing bromelain, compared to the same digestive enzyme supplement that did not contain bromelain.

Pineapple may decrease the risk of cancer

The uncontrolled growth of cells in the body is known as cancer, and its progression is often linked to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Several studies show that pineapple may reduce the risk of cancer because of its ability to minimize oxidative stress and decrease inflammation. Other studies show that bromelain may help fight cancer. Two test-tube studies show that bromelain stalled the growth of breast cancer cells. Additional studies have found that bromelain suppresses skin, bile duct, gastric system, and colon cancer. Bromelain may also encourage the immune system to produce molecules that make white blood cells more effective at eliminating and reducing cancer cell growth.

Pineapple may help ease pain and stiffness of arthritis

Over 54 million adults in America suffer from pain, stiffness, and swelling from arthritis. There are many types of arthritis, but the majority of them stem from inflammation in the joints. The anti-inflammatory properties in pineapple are thought to provide pain relief for people suffering from inflammatory arthritis. Research dating back to the early 1960s shows that bromelain helps to relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis that involves inflammation of the joints. More recent studies have also found that people suffering from osteoarthritis got relief when taking a digestive supplement that contained bromelain. In fact, they reported that the digestive enzyme was as effective as commonly prescribed arthritis medications.

Pineapples may help reduce the time it takes to recover from exercise and surgery

Recovering from a heavy exercise session or surgery is often a painful process. You hurt after strenuous exercise because you can often damage muscle tissue and increase inflammation. Eating pineapple may help to reduce this inflammation. In one study, people who took a digestive enzyme supplement that contained bromelain 45 minutes after a hard workout had less inflammation and maintain strength after the workout. Additional studies also show that bromelain can speed up recovery and facilitate healing of damage caused by exercise.

Eating pineapple may help with this, largely due to the anti-inflammatory properties of bromelain. Studies show that bromelain may not only reduce inflammation but also swelling, bruising, and pain that often happens after surgery. One study showed that people who consumed bromelain before dental surgery had markedly less pain after and felt better than those who did not consume the bromelain. The relief was similar to that provided by popular anti-inflammatory medicines. 

Ready to enjoy some pineapple?

-The UpWellness Team