Today, most of us consider pineapple a delicious tropical fruit, just exotic enough to be interesting without putting off picky eaters. There was a time, though, that pineapples were so special that a single fruit cost the equivalent of $8,000 today.
It was such a rare delicacy that artists began celebrating the pineapple by incorporating it into paintings and carvings. Social climbers would sometimes rent one for the night of a party in order to display it for jealous guests!
Pineapple is much easier, and cheaper, to get these days, but it should still be celebrated. It is packed full of nutritious goodness, including vitamins, antioxidants, and disease-fighting enzymes.
Eating pineapple has been linked to numerous health benefits, too. Stick with us to find out just how much good you’re doing your body every time you enjoy this tropical fruit.
1. Superior Nutrition
One cup of pineapple has just 82.5 calories, but delivers 131% of your RDA for vitamin C and 76% RDA of manganese. Vitamin C is essential for many vital processes, including growth and development, immune system support, and absorbing iron from your diet.
Vitamin C also plays a role in keeping your skin looking young. Manganese is a mineral that supports healthy growth, regulates metabolism, and has certain antioxidant properties.
Pineapple also offers just under 10% of your daily vitamin B6, copper, thiamin, and folate. Add in some potassium, magnesium, iron, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and niacin (plus one gram of protein), as well as trace amounts of vitamins A and K, phosphorus, zinc, and calcium – it’s clear that eating pineapple really sets you up for a successful day.
2. Beat Disease with Antioxidants
Antioxidants help the body stave off oxidative stress caused by free radicals that bounce around and damage healthy cells. This process is linked to chronic inflammation, a weak immune system, and several dangerous diseases. Antioxidants are able to bond with free radicals and neutralize them.
Pineapples are especially high in the antioxidant group called flavonoids, of which there are 6,000 subtypes. Many of the antioxidants in pineapple are “bound,” which allows them to survive almost anywhere in the body and deliver long lasting effects.
A diet rich in antioxidants reduces the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
3. Easier Digestion
Pineapples aid digestion through a set of enzymes called bromelain. Bromelain breaks down protein molecules into smaller building blocks including amino acids and peptides.
Once broken down, the protein parts are more easily absorbed by the small intestine. The enzyme is also used in commercial meat tenderizer due to its impressive ability to break down proteins.
Though this makes digestion easier for everyone, the effect of bromelain may be especially helpful for people with pancreatic insufficiency.
That condition occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce enough digestive enzymes, and studies show that patients experienced better digestion when bromelain was added to their regular digestive enzyme supplement.
4. Reduce Cancer Risk
Cancer is essentially the uncontrolled growth of cells which ultimately take over any organ they invade. During the attack, the body experiences intense oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. The compounds in pineapple are able to minimize these two occurrences.
But that is just the beginning. Test tube studies have shown that bromelain suppresses the growth of cancer cells in the skin, bile duct, gastric system, and colon, among other areas. It also stimulates the immune system to make molecules that help white blood cells more effectively suppress and eliminate cancer cells.
The bromelain supplements used in the experiments are considerably more concentrated that what is found in pineapples, but it still sounds like a compelling reason to eat more of the fruit!
5. Stronger Immunity and Less Inflammation
People have been using pineapples as holistic medicine for hundreds of years. The vitamins, minerals, and enzymes work incredibly well together to strengthen the immune system and suppress inflammation. These benefits have been studied extensively in children.
One nine-week study included 98 healthy children who ate no pineapple, some pineapple (140g), or lots of pineapple (280g) every day. The two groups who ate pineapple showed a significant reduction in the incidence of viral and bacterial infections.
Even more interesting, the children who ate the most pineapple had almost 4 times the disease-fighting white blood cells than the other two groups.
6. Ease Arthritis Symptoms
There are several different types of arthritis, but almost all of them involve painful joint inflammation. Scientists are very interested in the role that bromelain, a powerful anti-inflammatory found in pineapple, can play in the treatment of arthritis.
In fact, there have been studies on this since the 1960s, when bromelain was first used to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
More recent studies have determined that taking a digestive enzyme supplement that contains bromelain helps relieve pain as well as other common arthritis medications. It appears to be a very effective treatment in the short term, but longer studies are needed to determine if bromelain can work long term.
7. Faster Recovery Post Surgery or Strenuous Exercise
Once again, bromelain comes to the rescue. After surgery, people tend to experience swelling, bruising, pain, and of course, inflammation.
One study showed that people who consumed bromelain before a dental surgery had much less pain afterwards, and were happier to boot. Their level of relief rivaled that provided by regularly prescribed anti-inflammatory medications.
Strenuous exercise also damages muscle tissue and causes low grade inflammation. Though not as significant as what is experienced after a surgery, muscles that have undergone intense exercise are sore and a bit weaker over the following three days. According to several studies, bromelain appears to speed recovery by reducing the level of inflammation around the damaged muscles.
There are so many good health reasons to eat pineapple that we kind of forgot to stress how tasty they are! And not only that, they are incredibly versatile and easy to build into a daily diet. Eat them plain, in yogurt, or in smoothies. Add them to salads or order them on pizzas.
Pineapple can be purchased whole and broken down at home, or already peeled and chunked. They are available fresh, canned, frozen, and dried – and they cost way less than $8,000 now. With all of the health benefits pineapples offer, you simply can’t afford not to eat them.