With one bite, the flavor of fresh pineapple - naturally sweet yet refreshingly tart - seems to evoke all the sunlight and lushness of the tropics. But: no need for guilt after indulging in this succulent fruit. Pineapple offers a wealth of health benefits, including the ability to promote and improve digestion.
While enhancing digestion may sound like a minor benefit, the fact is: efficient digestion is crucial to health. Good digestion supports weight loss, promotes the absorption of nutrients, enhances energy and stamina, improves mood, enhances mental clarity and speeds the elimination of toxins, carcinogens, and waste.
Discover how eating pineapple can REDUCE the threat of inflammatory conditions
Pineapple - botanically known as Ananas comosus - has been an important plant in traditional and herbal medicine for centuries. So, don't you want to know why?
Fresh pineapple is rich in a proteolytic enzyme known as bromelain, which breaks protein down into amino acids and peptides and promotes their absorption across the small intestine. And, as it turns out, this natural enzyme has powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
In fact, bromelain can reduce levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines that damage the digestive tract lining - giving rise to hope that it may be used to fight ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes cramping, diarrhea and weight loss.
In case studies published in Annals of Medicine, bromelain supplementation helped to relieve persistent and frequent diarrhea in patients with treatment-resistant ulcerative colitis. Even more impressive, endoscopic examination revealed that the patients’ gastrointestinal mucosa had healed.
Bromelain has also been shown to improve digestion in patients with pancreatic insufficiency - and to improve pain and inflammation in patients with osteoarthritis. Of course, we suggest you check with an integrative physician before taking supplementary bromelain.
Health ALERT: Nutrition-packed pineapple helps to maintain a healthy body weight
Interesting to note: bromelain is not the only health-promoting ingredient found in pineapple. Pineapple’s high content of beta-carotene (which is turned into vision-preserving vitamin A in the body) has been shown in studies to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
In a 2016 review, the authors declared that dietary beta-carotene was associated with a lower risk of chronic degenerative diseases, including lung cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. And, as if that weren’t enough reason to eat pineapple, its nutritional profile is impressive!
A cup of pineapple chunks contains over 100 percent of the RDA for vitamin C - essential for immune support - and three-quarters of the RDA for manganese, a disease-fighting antioxidant. When you consume fresh pineapple, you also get the benefit of significant amounts of vitamin A, vitamin B2, magnesium, potassium (which helps regulate blood pressure), calcium and iron.
That same cup of pineapple offers a healthy 2.3 grams of dietary fiber, which helps flush toxins and carcinogens from the body. By the way, studies have shown that pineapple consumption is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.
Pineapple’s healthy fiber content means it can also provide a sense of satiety, or fullness, thereby helping to prevent food cravings and overeating. Any way you “slice it,” pineapple offers a jackpot of healthy nutrients - and all at a modest 82 calories a cup.
Remember: Fresh, organic pineapple wins hands-down
When it comes to the ideal way to enjoy pineapple, forget about those soggy, sugar-laden canned rings. Natural health experts report that the process of canning destroys precious bromelain - so, fresh (organic) is the way to go.
If fresh pineapple is inconvenient or pricey, you can opt for frozen pineapple, which still has health benefits. However - to preserve bromelain content - don’t cook pineapple. In addition to nibbling pineapple in slices and chunks, you can create a “rainbow fruit salad” using pineapple, strawberries, tangerines, green or red grapes, kiwi fruit, blueberries and shredded coconut.
Or, craft a sweet and tangy salsa by combining pineapple with mango, jalapeno peppers, red peppers and chipotle pepper. You can also blend pineapple with fresh blueberries and Greek yogurt for a fabulous breakfast smoothie that is guaranteed to start your day off right.
Now, let’s talk piña coladas.
As lovers of this festive beverage know, the flavors of coconut and pineapple are a match made in tropical heaven. But you don’t need to imbibe alcohol to enjoy this drink; in fact, it’s even tastier without the rum.
For a delicious “virgin smoothie,” mix equal amounts of pineapple chunks with coconut milk, toss in some ice, and blend. Get yourself a glass and enjoy!
Sources for this article include: