Pineapple is an exotic fruit to which digestive and anti-cellulite properties are attributed, but not only. Discover the nutritional values, benefits and contraindications of pineapple.
Pineapple is a tropical fruit rich in properties and brings numerous health benefits. It is a plant belonging to the Bromeliaceae family, native to South America and widespread in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Hawaii, Thailand and the Philippines.
Its fruit, with its characteristic shape and sweet and fresh flavor, was appreciated for the first time by citizens of European origin at the time of Christopher Columbus and his trip to America. It was then transported to Europe and, thanks to the Spaniards and the English, spread throughout our continent and the Pacific islands. Thus it became one of the best known and most appreciated fruits all over the world.
There are several varieties of this plant, which differ according to the country of cultivation. Among the best known and most consumed we remember the most cultivated: the Ananas comosus, coming from Brazil. As evidenced by several authors and witnesses of the seventeenth century, pineapple was a fruit widely used by Native American tribes for medicinal purposes.
Currently this fruit can be found in all supermarkets in our country both fresh, in fruit and vegetable departments, and canned. The healing properties of pineapple, which can also be found in the roots of the fruit, are however lost in the treatments required for canned preservation. In addition, the hard and long leaves of this fruit are also commonly used for the production of ropes and fabrics.
Pineapple is an exotic fruit with a sweet taste that is suitable for the preparation of fast and low-calorie desserts and contains a set of substances indicated with the term bromelain, with digestive, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.
Pineapple: calories and nutritional values
The properties of pineapple are many, in particular it is known for its benefits against cellulite, water retention and its digestive effects. Pineapple is a sweet-tasting fruit and contains few calories (100 grams of pineapple provide about 42 calories), making it a suitable food for low- calorie diets.
Very rich in water, it also contains a fair amount (10 g) of carbohydrates in the form of sugars and in particular glucose, fructose and sucrose. Low in fiber (only 1 g of fiber per 100 g of product), it has an average glycemic index that increases in the case of pineapple juice or packaged pineapple.
It also contains other fundamental micronutrients: it is a decent source of vitamin C (the consumption of 100 grams of pineapple provides about 20% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C), potassium and magnesium. However, as we will see in the next paragraph, the fundamental ingredient in the medical field contained in pineapple is bromelain, a set of enzymes with powerful digestive properties.
Nutritional values per 100g of pineapple:
- Waterfall: 86.40 g
- kcal: 42
- Proteins: 0.5 g
- Fat: 0.00 g
- of which saturated: 0.00 g
- Carbohydrates: 10 g
- Fibers: 1 g
- Iron: 0.5 mg
- Potassium: 250 mg
- Phosphorus: 8 mg
- Magnesium: 16 mg
- Zinc: 0.10 mg
- C vitamin: 17 mg
- Vitamin E: 0.10 mg
- Glycemic index: 50
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Pineapple: nutritional properties
Pineapple is a good food source of few micronutrients: 100 grams of pineapple contain discrete quantities, in relation to our daily requirement, only of vitamin C, potassium and magnesium. Below we list the main properties and functions of these nutrients, so abundantly represented in this food.
- Magnesium: pineapple is rich in this mineral with multiple properties and essential for the well-being of the nervous system, for the construction of the skeleton and for the metabolism of fats;
- Vitamin C: with its antioxidant function, it is essential for our immune system, it is also involved in the synthesis of collagen and is important for the assimilation of iron by red blood cells;
- Potassium: mineral involved in various physiological processes such as muscle contraction, the maintenance of a correct hydro-saline balance and the regulation of blood pressure.
Furthermore, as we have already anticipated, pineapple is a source of bromelain : a complex of different endopeptidases (enzymes capable of digesting proteins) and other components including phosphatase, glycosidase, peroxidase, cellulase, ribonuclease and glycoproteins.
All these protein components contained in bromelain are metabolic stimulators and make this component of the pineapple extremely interesting for its use in the medical and cosmetic fields. Bromelain was first identified in the late 1800s and this term derives from the name “bromeliaceae”: this complex, in fact, is contained in all plants of the bromeliaceae family.
The treatment of pineapple at high temperatures, such as those used in the pasteurization process, leads to the denaturation of these proteins and, therefore, to their inactivation. Precisely for this reason, as mentioned above, the health properties of this fruit are not found in canned pineapple.
Pineapple: health benefits
The components present, in particular bromelain, give the pineapple numerous therapeutic properties. This substance finds application in the food, medical and cosmetic fields.
In the food sector, for example, bromelain is used by companies for the production of wine, to avoid the formation of protein precipitates following bottling. In the cosmetic field, pineapple has been used for several years to soften the skin and for the production of some detergents. In the medical and pharmaceutical fields, there are many properties of pineapple, most of which are attributed precisely to the presence of bromelain. Let’s see together below the main areas of interest.
✓ Tumor pathologies
Although the mechanism of action of bromelain on tumor pathology is not yet fully understood, from some studies it seems that this substance acts at a systemic level and can modify some mechanisms underlying the pathology. It was used for the first time with positive results in the treatment of tumor pathologies in 1972, both alone and in combination with chemotherapy treatments.
✓ Supports the immune system
The proteases present in bromelain are able to modulate the immune system in different ways and this ability allows bromelain to also induce an anti-inflammatory effect, as evaluated in different clinical studies.
✓ Pineapple against cellulite and water retention
As we mentioned above, pineapple offers benefits for cellulite and water retention. In the herbal field, you can find different products based on pineapple stem which, in addition to containing bromelain, unlike the fruit, is rich in fiber. These products are useful for promoting both digestion and the drainage of liquids in case of cellulite.
In particular, also in this case, the benefits of pineapple are conferred by the presence of bromelain which has anti-inflammatory properties and is able to prevent the formation of edema and decrease those already existing. In fact, according to the most recent theories, cellulite has an inflammatory origin and could be caused by edema due to an excessively hydrophilic intra-cellular matrix.
✓ Anti-inflammatory properties
Pineapple has good anti- inflammatory properties. In particular, it exerts its anti-inflammatory effect by inhibiting the production of bradykinin, a substance normally produced as a result of inflammatory processes, very often caused by physical trauma. At the same time, bromelain reduces the migration of leukocytes (our white blood cells) towards the site of inflammation and decreases the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory ability, pineapple can also be suggested in cases of rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and prostatitis.
✓ Treatment of asthma
The anti-inflammatory properties of pineapple also make it effective in the treatment of asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease.
✓ Treatment of wounds and burns
Bromelain is often used topically to improve healing of gunshot or burn wounds.
✓ Digestive properties of pineapple
Pineapple, as we have already mentioned, is rich in digestive enzymes and in particular in proteases, useful for the digestion of proteins. These enzymes, unlike pancreatic proteases, act at a very wide pH range and are therefore active both in the stomach and intestines. They can therefore be used in case of enzymatic deficiencies to facilitate digestion .
How much pineapple to eat?
A standard serving of pineapple is, like other fruits, equal to 150 grams or, more practically, about 2 or 3 slices. We can also consume pineapple several times a week, taking care, however, to alternate it with other fruits in order to guarantee a healthy and varied diet.
If consumed after a meal it helps digestion and can be consumed, in moderation, even by people with diabetes or hyperglycemia. In this case it is advisable to consume the fruit after a meal and not on an empty stomach, to avoid glycemic peaks.
Pineapple: how to choose and use it
First of all, in order to enjoy a good pineapple, you need to know how to choose it correctly. The main factors to consider are: the smell and color of the skin. As for the smell, it must be sweet and intense; as for the color, we advise you to choose a fruit with a yellow-orange skin. Fruits with a green skin will turn out to be too unripe and those with a brown skin too ripe.
Pineapple, thanks to its sweet taste, is well suited to the preparation of simple, quick and light desserts. A quick snack can be grilled pineapple with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a few drops of honey.
Additionally, those who love contrasting flavors can experiment with meat and pineapple dishes, such as pineapple chicken or pineapple shredded beef. We suggest, in this case, to be careful not to overcook the fruit to keep the components of bromelain and vitamin C intact, so as to favor the digestion of the meat and the assimilation of iron.
Finally, pineapple can be used for the preparation of delicious extracts or centrifuged, such as the one based on pineapple, apple and celery or a juice with a tropical flavor prepared with a slice of pineapple and a mango.
Pineapple: Contraindications and Potential Negative Effects
Let’s now see the contraindications of pineapple. Those suffering from peptic ulcer should limit or avoid the consumption of this fruit. In addition, those who use drugs also need to have extra caution as pineapple interacts with different drugs such as some chemotherapy drugs. We also recommend that pregnant or lactating women always consult their doctor before using bromelain-based products.