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Pineapple, also known as the “King of Fruits” owes its discovery to Christopher Columbus. It is believed that he was on his second voyage in 1493 on the Guadeloupe Islands in the Caribbean when he discovered the fruit. According to historians, the fruit had already been well known in South America at that time but the discovery made it famous as one of the most exotic looking and highly prized fruits in the world. It was no less than a luxury as people fell over its exotic appearance. Back then, in colonial America, pineapples began to symbolize hospitality.

Pineapple is a tropical perennial herb with multiple fruits. It is a member of the Bromeliaceae family and is commercially cultivated in the tropical and subtropical parts of the world. It is believed to have originated between the land of Paraguay and South America. From here it reached the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and the rest of the world.

Pineapples are cultivated from the offset which is produced at the top of its fruit. The fruit takes around five to ten months for flowering and it bears fruits in the six months that follow.

Pineapple fruit finds a multitude of uses in the ayurvedic and traditional medicines. The vitamins and minerals present in pineapple make it an excellent health booster. It is loaded with fiber, carbohydrates and a digestion enhancing enzyme known as bromalin. Furthermore, it is a natural antioxidant food, which means that it can help you fight diseases and age gracefully and who doesn't want to stay young and disease free.

Some basic facts about Pineapple:

  • Scientific Name: Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.
  • Family: Bromeliaceae
  • Common Name: Pineapple, Ananas 
  • Sanskrit name: अनानसफलम, anānasaphalam
  • Parts used: Fruit, leaves
  • Native Region and Geographical Distribution:  Pineapples come from South America indigenously. Top cultivators of this fruit are Costa Rica, Brazil, Philippines, China, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Thailand, Nigeria, Indonesia, Mexico and Columbia. In 2016, Costa Rica, Brazil and the Philippines alone were responsible for producing one-third of the world’s crop.
  • Fun fact: In English, the word "pineapple" was first recorded to describe the reproductive organs of the conifer trees which are now called pine cones. The European explorers had encountered this tropical fruit in America when they started calling them "pineapples".
  1. Pineapple nutrition facts
  2. Pineapple health benefits
  3. Pineapple use
  4. Pineapple side effects
  5. Takeaway

Pineapple is the only known source of bromelain, an enzyme present in the fruit. It plays a significant role in providing multiple health benefits. Pineapples are rich in calories but at the same time are low in both fats and cholesterol.

Pineapples are high in water-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C. They also contain significant amounts of minerals like potassium, copper, calcium, etc. They are rich in vitamin B1, vitamin B6, and dietary fibre as well.

As per the USDA Nutrition Database, 100 grams of pineapple contains the following values:

Nutrients Value per 100 g
Water 86 g
Energy 50 kcal
Protein 0.54 g
Fats 0.12g
Carbohydrates 13.12 g
Fibre 1.4 g
Sugars 9.85 g

 

Minerals Value per 100 g
Calcium 13 mg
Iron 0.29 mg
Magnesium 12 mg
Phosphorus 8 mg
Potassium 109 mg
Sodium 1 mg
Zinc 0.12 mg

 

Vitamins Value per 100 g
Vitamin A 3 µg
Vitamin B-1 0.079 mg
Vitamin B-2 0.032 mg
Vitamin B-3 0.500 mg
Vitamin B6 0.112 mg
Vitamin B-9 18 µg
Vitamin C 47.8 mg
Vitamin E 0.02 mg
Vitamin K 0.7 µg

 

Fats/ Fatty acids Value per 100 g
Saturated 0.009 g
Monounsaturated 0.013 g
Polyunsaturated 0.040 g

Pineapple for surgery recovery

Most surgeries take a lot of time to heal, also the recovery time taken by a patient varies with the kind of the surgery performed. The average number of days which might be required for the complete disappearance of the inflammation and pain caused after a surgery is said to reduce if the bromelain is administered before the surgery. Studies and trials indicate that bromelain might be quite effective in the reduction of pain, swelling and bruising in women who are suffering from an episiotomy (a surgical cut made in the vagina to ease childbirth).  Bromelain is nowadays also used for treating acute cases of inflammation like sports injuries.

Pineapple for cancer

Cancer is one of the most severe chronic diseases of the present time. A lot of research has been going on to find anti-cancerous properties in natural food items to battle this fatal disease. Studies suggest that bromelain present in pineapple has potent anticancer activities. It has been found that bromalin has an inhibitory impact on cancer cell growth and their respective microenvironment.

Also, the modulation of inflammatory, immune and haemostatic systems is of significance in reducing cancer growth.

Bromelain is also said to decrease the activity of the cell survival regulators such as Erk and Akt. This, in turn, helps the promotion of apoptotic cell death in tumours. Studies showed that administration of Bromelain resulted in tumour regression after 24 hours of inoculation.

Pineapple for digestion

Similar to numerous other fruits and vegetables, pineapple contains dietary fibre, which is an essential part of the healthy functioning digestive system.

Dietary fibre is extremely useful in keeping bowel movements regular and avoiding constipation. Also, they have an important role in maintaining the normal microflora of the intestines, which play a crucial role in the proper digestion of food.

In contrast to many other fruits and vegetables, pineapple contains a significant amount of bromelain which is an enzyme that breaks down protein and improves intestinal function. This property of pineapple leads one to believe that it is possibly a better alternative for the gastrointestinal health.

(Read more: How to improve digestion)

Pineapple for common cold and sinusitis

Pineapple has long since been used as a traditional remedy for cough and cold. They have lots of Vitamin C which has been reported to be useful in the treatment of common cold.

Additionally, research suggests that bromelain present in pineapple is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent. This means that it can help in the reduction of mucus accumulation in the nose and throat. In a recent clinical trial, 40 chronic sinusitis patients were given a 500mg bromalin supplement twice a day for a period of 30 days. It was found that bromalin can easily pass from the bloodstream into the nasal mucosa. It has been speculated that the ease of diffusion makes bromalin the perfect health supplement for relieving sinusitis inflammation. So, if one catches a cold, then it could be worth trying some pineapple chunks.

Pineapple for diarrhoea

Evidence has suggested that bromelain present in pineapple counteracts some of the effects of certain intestinal pathogens such as Vibrio cholerae and Escherichia coli. The enterotoxin of these pathogens causes diarrhoea. Bromelain is believed to exhibit this effect by interacting with intestinal secretory pathways.

However, an alternate antibacterial mechanism has also been found. Antiadhesion effects are exhibited by active supplementation with bromelain in infection caused by E. coli. This means that bromalin prevents the bacteria from attaching to specific glycoprotein receptors located on the intestinal mucosa (inner lining). Hence, pineapple bromalin may be clinically useful as an antidiarrheal drug.

Pineapple benefits for skin

A healthy and glowing skin is all one needs to create an impact at first sight and pineapple is just the right fruit to help you gain that. Pineapples contain abundant values of vitamin C which has numerous benefits for the skin. They help in the rejuvenation and cleansing of the skin. It also fights the free radical damage which is usually associated with the firsts signs of ageing including fine lines and dark spots.

The lack of collagen in humans is one of the major causes responsible for causing loose skin and wrinkles. The vitamin C content of pineapple can assist in collagen biosynthesis, thus providing the necessary elasticity to the skin.

Pineapple juice is very popular for its anti-browning properties because of the sulfur-containing compounds present in it. Regular application of cosmetics containing pineapple can aid skin-whitening.

(Read more: Antioxidant rich food)

Pineapple for arthritis

Arthritis is a disease which makes the bones fragile and prone to fractures. In Western countries, osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Pineapple is considered to be a natural anti-inflammatory fruit. Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, is believed to play an important role in the pathogenesis of arthritis. A clinical study conducted on 103 patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee suggested that bromelain contains can help reduce inflammation and pain similar to some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Oral therapy with Bromelain has also been seen to be effective with patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

(Read more: Inflammatory disease types)

Pineapple for heart health

Modern day lifestyle and dietary choices have significantly increased the risk of various cardiovascular disorders. Cardiovascular diseases or CVDs include a wide range of disorders of the heart and blood vessels, coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure or hypertension, rheumatic heart disease, peripheral artery disease, heart failure, and congenital heart disease.

Studies suggest that bromelain, present in pineapple can reduce the risk of these cardiovascular diseases. Pineapples are effective inhibits blood platelet aggregation, thus minimizing the risk of arterial thrombosis (platelet aggregation in arteries) and stroke. It prevents and minimises the severity of angina pectoris chest pain due to CVD) and transient ischemic attack (caused due to blockage of blood flow to a particular body part). 

Additionally, the antioxidants present in pineapple may be helpful in reducing lipid oxidation and formation of plaques in the arteries which is usually responsible for atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.

(Read more: Heart disease prevention)

Pineapple prevents blood clots

Blood coagulation refers to an undesirable transformation of the liquid state of blood into semi-solid. Bromelain increases the serum fibrinolytic activity by inhibiting the synthesis of fibrin which is a protein involved in blood clotting. This phenomenon slows down blood coagulation. Animal-based studies suggest that pineapple exhibits dose-dependent inhibition of blood clotting. 

This definitely makes pineapple a very good snack for those who are prone to blood clots and frequent air commuters.

(Read more: Blood clotting disorders)

Pineapple for burns

Debridement is the process of removal of the unhealthy tissue which is damaged from wounds or burns. This is essential to promote the healing mechanism. Bromelain present in pineapples contains vitamin C which promotes wound healing . Studies suggest that bromalin when applied topically as a cream with a lipid base, could be useful in accelerating the healing process, and also for the debridement of necrotic tissue (dead tissue).

Pineapples can be consumed fresh but it is also used as preserved, cooked or in the form of a juice. The juicy pineapple flavour is a part of a whole lot of cuisines around the world. The pineapple leaves, besides the fruit, also have their own set of uses. In the Philippines, they are used to produce the piñatas which are a textile fibre. This fibre is commonly used as material to make formal wear for the men and women in the country. The fibre is also used in furnishings, for instance as wallpapers.

  • Pineapple is known to be a great meat tenderer and hence, eating too much of it can result in the tenderness of the mouth and even lips, cheeks and tongue. The problem usually resolves itself in a couple of hours or so. However, if it does not or if the person has an experience of a rash, breathing difficulties or hives, he/she might need immediate medical attention as this could be the symptoms of pineapple allergy. 
  • While vitamin C has huge benefits but consuming it in large quantities may cause problems like abdominal pain, mild nausea, diarrhoea, and heartburn. Consumption of unripe pineapple or even drinking unripe pineapple juice is dangerous for one's health, as it has much higher vitamin C content. Eating a lot of pineapple cores is also said to cause the formation of fibre balls in the digestive tract.
  • Excess consumption of pineapples might also lead to weight gain as it contains sugars. 

The fruit of pineapple is extremely beneficial and contains rare enzymes which are miraculous for the human body. The health benefits of pineapples, when taken in the right quantities, are innumerable. It is often said that anything in excess is always harmful. The saying is true for pineapples as well, they should not be consumed beyond moderate values. Hence, moderation is the keyword in order to reap the most benefits.

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References

  1. Ain Raal et al. Complementary Treatment of the Common Cold and Flu with Medicinal Plants – Results from Two Samples of Pharmacy Customers in Estonia. PLoS One. 2013; 8(3): e58642. PMID: 23484045
  2. D. PASSALI et al. Bromelain’s penetration into the blood and sinonasal mucosa in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis . Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. 2018 Jun; 38(3): 225–228. PMID: 29984799
  3. Diana Crisan et al. The role of vitamin C in pushing back the boundaries of skin aging: an ultrasonographic approach . Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015; 8: 463–470. PMID: 26366101
  4. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Classification for Kingdom Plantae Down to Species Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release [Internet]
  5. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Basic Report: 09266, Pineapple, raw, all varieties. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release [Internet]
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  8. Chandler DS, Mynott TL. Bromelain protects piglets from diarrhoea caused by oral challenge with K88 positive enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli. Gut. 1998 Aug;43(2):196-202. PMID: 10189844
  9. Mynott T et al. Bromelain prevents secretion caused by Vibrio cholerae and Escherichia coli enterotoxins in rabbit ileum in vitro. Gastroenterology. 1997 Jul;113(1):175-84. PMID: 9207276
  10. Zheng ZP et al. Sulfur-containing constituents and one 1H-pyrrole-2-carboxylic acid derivative from pineapple [Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.] fruit. Phytochemistry. 2010 Dec;71(17-18):2046-51. PMID: 20843530
  11. Mavil May C. Cervo et al. Effects of Canned Pineapple Consumption on Nutritional Status, Immunomodulation, and Physical Health of Selected School Children J Nutr Metab. 2014; 2014: 861659. PMID: 25505983
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