Growing up in a tropical climate, I love topical fruits, especially pineapples! They are incredibly delicious and packed with gut-friendly components:
Fibre & Water
- The high fibre and water content in pineapples help “move things along” and thus preventing constipation. It’s also incredibly hydrating.
- Despite the fact that high fibre foods tend to help lower blood glucose level, pineapple has a Medium Glycemic Index (average about 66, the riper the fruit, the higher its GI score is). Therefore, moderation is key. Also, pairing the fruit with some protein and healthy fats may help off-set the fruit’s effect on blood glucose.
- Bromelain is a group of enzymes that help our body breakdown proteins and therefore improves protein digestion (side note: this is also why bromelain is an effective meat tenderizer that works by breaking down collagen in tough cuts).
- Studies show that bromelain reduces inflammatory immune cells called cytokines which damage the digestive tract lining. Its anti-inflammatory power is not only helpful in healing gut lining but also skin burns.
- Absorption and bioavailability: according to a scientific literature review, “the body can absorb a significant amount of bromelain” and that “it is absorbed from the GI tract in a functionally intact form”.
- However, the bromelain content in fresh pineapples may not be high enough for therapeutic purpose. When used at therapeutic level, bromalain is extracted from pineapple stems and converted into supplement form. I have yet to found a source that identifies the bromelain content in fresh pineapples.
Vitamin C & Other Antioxidants
- Pineapple is also rich in Vitamin C – just one cup of fresh pineapple chunks contain about 130% of the daily requirement for Vitamin C for an average healthy adult.
- Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps boost immunity and also helps the absorption of other nutrients such as iron.
- Other than Vitamin C, pineapples are also rich in other antioxidants like phenolics and flavonoids.
Manganese & Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
- Pineapple is an excellent source of Manganese and a good source of Vitamin B1, which are both essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and defence for oxidative stress.
- Side note: the trace mineral Manganese is also important for maintaining bone health, along with Calcium.
Tips on Preparation & Storage:
- Avoid eating canned pineapples as they have been highly processed, resulting in the loss of heat sensitive components such as bromelain and Vitamin C. They’re also soaked in sugar syrup – we all know the dark side of sugar!
- Store-bought already cut pineapples is a better option than canned pineapples, but the longer it sits on the shelf and your fridge, the more nutrients are lost.
- Save money and preserve the nutrients by buying whole pineapples and carve out the fruit yourself.
- Store the chunks in an air-right container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or better yet, place them in the freezer and use for smoothies.
- Don’t toss the pineapple cores! Use them in Kombucha or Water Kefir fermentation, or simply use them to make fruit infused water or even a tropical sangria (option to make it a “mocktail”)!
- Some people may be sensitive to the bromelain in pineapples, which can cause a temporary irritation on the tongue. A simple way to counter that is to soak cut pineapples in salt water for about 5-10 minutes, which can disintegrate some of the bromelain content without losing too much of the other water-soluble nutrients.
- If you don’t have access to fresh pineapples, try individually quick frozen (IQF) pineapples. The benefit of frozen fruits is that they 1) are usually harvested and minimally processed when the fruits are at their peak nutrient density, 2) don’t contain preservatives, and 3) available year round. However they can be more expensive than the fresh whole fruits and I don’t like the mushy thawed texture (they are good for smoothies though).
- Listen to your body – watch out for symptoms of allergy and sensitivities (yes pineapple allergy exists and can be very severe! )
- Due to its high acidity, some may advise against eating pineapples for those suffer from acid reflux – however, there’s a lack of research showing that avoiding acidic foods improves symptoms. So as always, listen to your body and moderation is key!
Here’s a Tropical Sangria that I made using pineapple cores, apple peels & berries! Also a link to my previous post on red wine’s affect on gut health.
And here’s a delicious pineapple, papaya & banana smoothie that helped me recover from my wisdom teeth surgery as all I could eat was pureed food at the time! 🙂 Also a background of kombucha in the making!