Pineapple (Pineapple comosus) is a tropical fruit grown and researched around the world for its potential uses in pain management, digestion, inflammation, and other health conditions.
Bromelain is an important enzyme and bioactive compound in pineapple that has been found to prevent the inflammatory process and provide other health benefits.
This article discusses the safety and potential health benefits of pineapple and bromelain.
Pineapple can be eaten and enjoyed in a variety of ways as part of a balanced diet. It can be enjoyed raw, grilled or roasted. It is commonly used in smoothies, popsicles, baked goods, salsas, drinks and more.
Pineapple is a source of macronutrients, micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and fiber. It also contains bioactive substances, such as bromelain.
Pineapple nutrition per 100 g/half cup
- Calories: 50
- Carbohydrates: 13.1 grams (g)
- Egg white: 0.54 grams
- Total fat: 0.12 grams
- Total sugars: 9.85 grams
- Fiber: 1.4 grams
- Calcium: 13 milligrams (mg)
- Iron: 0.29mg
- Vitamin C: 47.8 mg
- Vitamin A: 58 International Units (IE)
- Potassium: 109mg
- Manganese: 0.93mg
- Magnesium: 12 mg
- Folic acid: 18 micrograms (mcg)
- Choline: 5.5 mg
People on specific diets may need to limit or avoid pineapple.
Although pineapple can be part of a healthy diet for people with diabetes, those on a ketogenic diet may need to avoid it.
Benefits of pineapple
Due to its bromelain content and other bioactive compounds, pineapple is believed to provide specific health benefits.
However, very little research exists on pineapple, making it difficult to verify its potential effects.
A little more research has been done on bromelain. These studies suggest that bromelain may help with burns, muscle aches, pain, inflammation and digestive problems. Yet some studies have produced conflicting results.
Some of the available research on pineapple and bromelain is described in the sections below.
Can improve digestion
Pineapple is believed to have positive effects on digestion. This may be due to the fiber and digestive enzymes found in it.
In one laboratory study, pineapple juice from stems and peels improved prebiotic function in a simulated human gastrointestinal (GI) tract. By supporting the function of prebiotics, pineapple juice has also been linked to increased probiotics (or ‘good bacteria’) in the gastrointestinal tract, which can improve digestion and gut health.
A study in mice revealed a potential balancing effect of pineapple on the gut microbiome. The positive results were attributed to the digestive enzymes found in bromelain.
While laboratory and animal studies are somewhat helpful, human research into the effects of pineapple and bromelain on digestion remains necessary.
Can reduce pain
Bromelain is used for pain in various forms of integrative medicine.
There is some evidence that bromelain reduces inflammation and increases circulation at the site of the injury, leading to less pain. Action is thought to be underway bradykinina pain mediator.
Additional research has shown that bromelain may play a role in pain management in certain conditions, such as: arthrosis, neuropathy (nerve pain) and sports injuries.
Bromelain may also be useful for pain and inflammation caused by surgery. Research shows that bromelain reduces postoperative swelling and thus pain.
Overall, more large-scale studies in this area are needed to further determine how bromelain can improve different types of pain.
Can help with fatty liver disease
High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) is a risk factor for fatty liver disease. Pineapple can reduce this risk.
According to a study in rats, pineapple has antioxidant and cholesterol-lowering properties.
In the study, the rats ate a diet high in cholesterol and pineapple for eight weeks. Compared to the rats that ate a standard diet, those that consumed pineapple had reduced levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides in their liver and blood. Overall, pineapple was associated with reduced features of fatty liver disease.
Other animal and laboratory studies have shown similar results. Unfortunately, however, no human studies exist yet on pineapple for fatty liver disease.
The above research was conducted on animals; the results should be considered preliminary.
May improve vascular health
Your blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries) make up your body’s vascular system. Vascular health is essential for circulation and blood flow.
Pineapple may improve vascular health by reducing the buildup of cholesterol and lipids in the blood vessels.
In one study, pineapple reduced structural changes in the aortas of rats that ate a high-cholesterol diet for eight weeks. Rats that consumed pineapple were also found to have better vascular function due to reduced tension in their blood vessels.
Another study in rats concluded that pineapple possesses antioxidant and lipid-lowering properties that are useful for vascular health.
Again, however, there is virtually no research on the effects of pineapple on people’s vascular health. These studies in rats show promising results, but more research is needed.
Can reduce inflammation
According to laboratory and animal studies, pineapple can reduce inflammation.
Several test-tube studies have shown that bromelain (a bioactive compound in pineapple) inhibits inflammation. However, scientists are not sure how bromelain does this.
Pineapple consumption in rats has also been linked to reduced inflammation.
In one study, researchers fed rats pineapple and a diet high in cholesterol for eight weeks. The pineapple reduced inflammatory markers that would normally be seen in rats on a high-cholesterol diet. These results suggest that pineapple may have a cardioprotective effect.
However, more research is needed to prove that these effects are possible in humans, and not just rats.
Supplement use should be individualized and supervised by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN), pharmacist, or health care provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.
Safety of pineapple
Pineapple is generally considered safe, but some people may need to limit it or avoid it altogether.
Although rare, it is possible to be allergic to pineapple or the bioactive ingredient bromelain. Avoid pineapple and bromelain if you are allergic to them.
Seek immediate medical attention if you have signs of a severe allergic reaction, such as itching, hives, or shortness of breath.
Even if you are not allergic to pineapple or bromelain, you may experience side effects from consuming them. This can be especially true if you have too much. Taking too much bromelain can cause:
Be careful when using bromelain during pregnancy or if you are breastfeeding. It is unknown whether bromelain is safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Bromelain may interact with the antibiotic amoxicillin. There is also concern that bromelain may interact with blood thinners, but more research is needed to confirm this possible interaction.
Additional precautions and interactions may exist for bromelain or pineapple. Be sure to talk to a healthcare provider before using bromelain or pineapple, especially if you are taking medications or have a medical condition.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements the way it regulates prescription drugs. That means some supplement products may not contain what the label says.
When choosing a supplement, look for third-party tested products and consult a healthcare provider, registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN), or pharmacist.
Pineapple (Pineapple comosus) is a tropical fruit that contains the active substance bromelain.
Both pineapple and bromelain are believed to provide several health benefits. However, more research is needed in many areas to determine its potential applications.
Pineapple is considered safe for most people to consume, but you may need to avoid it if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking certain medications. You should also avoid pineapple if you are allergic to it.
Talk to a healthcare provider for more information about pineapple.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can dogs eat pineapple?
According to the American Kennel Club, fresh pineapple is safe for dogs in moderation. However, canned pineapple should be avoided.
Although pineapple contains many important nutrients, its fiber content may be too high if given to dogs often or in large quantities. Some experts also worry that pineapple’s sugar content may upset the stomach of some dogs.
The overall message is that giving your dog fresh pineapple is not a problem, but only in small amounts.
How do you cut a pineapple?
Cutting a pineapple may seem difficult, but it is easier than it seems. Cutting a pineapple:
- Cut off the stem and bottom end.
- Stand the pineapple upright and cut the peel off in a downward motion.
- Cut the pineapple in half from top to bottom.
- Cut the halves in half so that you are left with four pieces.
- Cut the core (the hard part) from the center of each piece.
- Cut the four pieces in half again, so that you are left with eight pieces.
- Cut each remaining piece into triangles or cubes (or whatever shape you prefer).
Is pineapple good for you?
Pineapple is packed with nutrients that are important for your health.
Pineapple contains macronutrients and micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Like other fruits, pineapple is also a good source of fiber, which is essential for gut health.
For most people, pineapple can be part of a balanced diet.