Natural Health Tips

Pineapples Are Packed with Health Benefits

Pineapples are a juicy and vibrantly tropical-flavored fruit packed with antioxidants, and substances found in the pineapple have been linked to beneficial health activity like anti-inflammatory, healing, blood-thinning and cancer-preventative properties.

Pineapple (Ananas comosus) is the only edible member of the Bromeliaceae family. Pineapples are actually not just one fruit but a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. They take about eighteen months to grow and must be grown from the crowns or tops of other pineapples. They are only harvested when ripe.

Pineapples are a good source of Vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and copper. They also contain a group of digestive enzymes called bromelain that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Health Benefits

Potential Benefits of Bromelain

Much of the research surrounding pineapples is focused on the protein enzyme bromelain, which naturally occurs in pineapple. Its properties include:

  • Interference with growth of malignant cells and tumors
  • Anti-inflammatory action
  • Inhibition of platelet aggregation (which could lead to blood clotting)
  • Fibrinolytic activity (the breakdown of a protein involved in the clotting of blood)
  • Skin debridement properties (the fast healing of pressure ulcers, burns, and other wounds)

Dr Andrew Weil, considered the "father of alternative medicine", reports that bromelain is an effective treatment for severe bruises and hematomas, and can promote healing of injuries by reducing pain and swelling. Other benefits he mentions are:

  • Reduces postoperative swelling
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with sinusitis
  • When combined with antibiotics and trypsin (an enzyme), can help control the symptoms of urinary tract infections
  • May help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Results of several clinical trials indicate that bromelain acts as a blood-thinner and can help relieve the symptoms of angina and thrombophlebitis.

Cancer Prevention

Cornell University food scientists found that eating pineapples reduced the formation of nitrosamines (potential carcinogens) in humans.

Tips on Using Pineapples

  • A pineapple is ripe if one of its top leaves can easily be pulled out, and if it has a sweet smell at the stem end.

  • They can be left at room temperature for one or two days, or stored in the fridge for three to five days.

  • To prepare a pineapple, first remove the crown and base with a knife. Then cut into quarters, remove the core, and make slices in the quarters by cutting from flesh to rind, and finally separate the fruit from the rind.

  • Pineapple is a great addition to fruit salads.

References

  • Glaser D, Hilberg T. The influence of bromelain on platelet count and platelet activity in vitro. Platelets. 2006 Feb;17(1):37-41.

  • Helser MA, Hotchkiss JH, Roe DA. Influence of fruit and vegetable juices on the endogenous formation of N-nitrosoproline and N-nitrosothiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid in humans on controlled diets. Carcinogenesis. 1992 Dec; 13 (12):2277-2280.

  • Taussig SJ, Batkin S. Bromelain, the enzyme complex of pineapple (Ananas comosus) and its clinical application. An update. J Ethnopharmacol. 1988 Feb-Mar;22(2):191-203.

  • Maurer HR. Bromelain: biochemistry, pharmacology and medical use. Cell Mol Life Sci 2001 Aug;58(9):1234-45 2001.

  • The Queensland Institute of Medical Research,. Pineapple stems that show anti-tumour activity. Medical Research News, July 19, 2005. http://www.qimr.edu.au/

  • Walker AF, Bundy R, Hicks SM et al. Bromelain reduces mild acute knee pain and improves well-being in a dose-dependent fashion in an open study of otherwise healthy adults. Phytomedicine; 2002 Dec 9(8):681-6 2002.