14 Health Benefits Of Pineapple Juice: All Hail Bromelain!
Benefits Of Pineapple Juice
Most of the benefits of pineapple juice can be attributed to its unique proetin-digesting, anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain. As a result, pineapple juice helps treat all inflammatory conditions like arthritis, asthma, sinusitis, ulcerative colitis, and even cancer. Its antioxidants, vitamin C and beta-carotene, and minerals like magnesium and manganese help improve immunity, skin health, and bone health. Go easy if you’re allergic to bromelain.
If you drank your pineapple juice as a tropical treat without expecting any benefits other than to your taste buds, rejoice! Multiple studies find that the health benefits of pineapple juice are diverse – it improves your digestion, bone health, and eyesight; heals wounds; reduces arthritis and period pain; boosts immunity; prevents signs of aging on the skin; and kills cancer cells. Most of these benefits are by courtesy of a unique enzyme called bromelain that is found exclusively in the pineapple fruit and stem.
The core of the pineapple has the highest amount of bromelain. Don’t chuck it.
A real cocktail of beneficial enzymes, minerals, and vitamins, a pineapple is a health freak’s dream come true. It is low in calories and rich in vitamin C. It has both soluble and insoluble fibers and minerals like potassium, calcium, phosphorous, and manganese.
Here’s a look at what just 8 oz (250 g or 1 cup) of unsweetened canned pineapple juice contains:1
|Nutrient||Value||RDA (Men)||RDA (Women)|
|Vitamin A*||12 IU||2.5%||2.5%|
|Folate (B9)||45 mcg||11.25%||11.25%|
|Vitamin C**||25 mg||27%||33%|
- *An equivalent quantity of fresh pineapple juice has about 145 IU vitamin A.
- **An equivalent quantity of fresh pineapple juice has about 119 mg vitamin C.2
1. Helps Digestion And Treats Diarrhea
Bromelain in pineapple can break down proteins and help with digestion. Drink a glass of juice no more than 30 mins before a meal.
Ever wondered why restaurants serve a big, juicy slice of pineapple with your pork spare ribs? To help you digest better. The South and Central Americans have been eating pineapples for ages to cure indigestion.
Pineapples (the flesh and the stem) contain a unique mixture of proteolytic enzymes called bromelain, which helps digestion by breaking down complex proteins.3 This is also why pineapple juice is often used as a meat tenderizer and marinade.
The soluble and insoluble fiber load in pineapples also helps keep your gut healthy, preventing constipation, gas build-up, and diarrhea. It has also been seen to treat E. coli infection in the stomach.4
As juicing can remove most of the fiber, you may want to opt for pineapple smoothie or even the whole fruit.
2. Treats Ulcerative Colitis
Pineapple juice can also help with ulcerative colitis. But avoid it if you have stomach ulcer.
Research has found that bromelain is effective in treating inflammation-related digestive diseases like irritable bowel disorder (IBD). It has been seen to reduce the incidences and intensity of colitis (a type of IBD) in mice. While bromelain still isn’t part of standard treatment, incidentally, it helped improve the symptoms of ulcerative colitis in a couple of human patients who did not respond to other medicines.
How does it do this? By decreasing the production of chemicals like cytokines and leukocytes that help in causing inflammation.5 6
3. Treats Arthritis Pain
The ability of bromelain to reduce pain and inflammation makes pineapple juice a good drink for people with osteoarthritis of the neck and shoulders. You could also drink it after any sports injury.
The property of bromelain that helps reduce inflammation in IBD also helps it treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. An analysis of studies conducted to understand the efficacy of bromelain in treating osteoarthritis, especially in the knee and shoulder, and rheumatoid arthritis shows encouraging results.
Bromelain reduces inflammation, edema, and pain by lowering the levels of inflammatory agents like cytokines and bradykinin. It also helps dissolve blood clots while reducing the levels of blood-clotting agents like fibrin.78
This blood-thinning property of pineapple juice also makes it good for the heart, which brings us to the next point.
4. Helps The Heart
Anything that is rich in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants is bound to have a good effect on the heart and the entire cardiovascular system. Pineapple is a heart-healthy fruit in that regard – do note that you’d need to eat the fruit for the helpful fiber, not pineapple juice.
Moreover, researchers suggest that bromelain could reduce the risk of heart attacks by breaking down plaques in the arteries and preventing the formation of blood clots. With its blood-thinning effect, it could even reduce the severity of angina pectoris (chest pain caused by poor blood circulation to the heart) and transient ischemic attack (a mini-stroke).9
It has also been seen to protect against poor supply of blood to skeletal muscles and against the injury caused when the blood flow comes back to normal.10
5. Cures Cough And Sinusitis
Some reports claim that pineapple juice can cure cough 5 times more effectively than cough syrups. It isn’t really surprising considering the anti-inflammatory property of bromelain. Cough is often a fallout of allergic airways diseases (AAD) as the body tries to get rid of the excess mucus,11 and anti-inflammatory therapy is one of the many treatments suggested to combat AAD.
Drink pineapple juice if you have a sinus-related cough. The juice can also dilute the mucus.
Bromelain also helps dilute mucus and makes it easier to expel or expectorate it.12
It can also decongest the nasal passage and reduce the cold and cough associated with sinusitis. In fact, bromelain is used in Europe as a treatment for sinus swelling after ear, nose, or throat surgery.13
6. Eases Asthma
Pretty much the same way, pineapple juice helps asthma patients. It provides double benefits in asthma alleviation with bromelain and beta-carotene. Increased consumption of beta-carotene (found in most yellow and orange fruits and veggies) can decrease the severity of asthma, especially in women.14 15 16
7. Makes Bones Sturdy
As stated earlier, 1 cup of pineapple juice can meet 7.5% to 9.6% of your daily magnesium requirement. Magnesium deficiency could affect bone cells and also the secretion and activity of the parathyroid hormone, resulting in osteoporosis.17
Magnesium and manganese in pineapple are the main players when it comes to improving bone health.
Manganese, which is abundant in pineapples, is also supposedly helpful in preventing osteoporosis, when taken with calcium, copper, and zinc. This combination was seen to reduce spinal bone loss in post-menopausal women – this is important to note because post-menopausal women are prone to bone loss due to reduced estrogen levels. Pineapple juice contains all these minerals, though some of them are in trace amounts.
Deficiency of manganese is known to affect the development of cartilage and bones. So it might be a good idea to give your kids their daily dose of pineapple juice for better bones.18 19
8. Fights Cancer
Bromelain is the real weapon in pineapple’s arsenal against cancer. Unlike the drugs used in chemotherapy, bromelain can selectively kill cancer cells without harming normal cells and hold off metastasis or cancer spreading. In an animal study, it performed even better than 5-fluorauracil, a chemotherapy drug.20
In one study, 12.5 mg/kg bromelain had more anti-tumor effect than 20 mg/kg of 5-fluorauracil, a standard chemotherapy drug.
One of the causes of cancer is the faulty functioning of a type of proteins known as glycoproteins. These proteins can further help in spreading cancer and in making the cells resistant to chemo.
Bromelain has been seen to inhibit MUC1, one such glycoprotein, from producing this effect in pancreatic and breast cancer cells. On top of that, bromelain has been seen to make chemo drugs more effective.21
While the cancer studies use bromelain extracted from the stem because of its greater stability, eating the fruit can also help.22
9. Prevents Signs Of Aging
Pineapple juice is rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and beta-carotene. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means your body does not store it and it has to come from food. Vitamin C plays many important skin functions like the growth and repair of tissues, collagen formation, and healing of wounds.23
Antioxidants like vitamin C block some of the damages caused by free radicals, substances that damage DNA. The build-up of free radicals over time may contribute to the aging process and the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.24
10. Heals Wounds
Studies have found that bromelain is effective in healing firearm and burn wounds in animals. It does this by removing the eschar, or the dead and damaged tissues which delay healing, without harming the normal tissues underneath. This process is known as debridement. In fact, bromelain is so effective in this that there are now bromelain debridement gels and creams available in the market.25
Drink pineapple juice if you have swelling or bruising from soft tissue injuries (like strain or sprain) and for burns and wounds.
While bromelain isolated from the fruit has better effect in healing soft tissue injuries, pineapple juice can reduce oxidative stress, perhaps due to its rich array of minerals and vitamins that boost the body’s natural antioxidant levels.26
Pineapple juice also has vitamin C and manganese, both of which can help heal wounds. Manganese activates an enzyme called prolidase, which in turn produces the amino acid proline. Proline is required to synthesize collagen for wound healing.27
11. Improves Vision
Here’s one more reason to drink pineapple juice regularly. A 2015 study shows that vitamin C can reduce the risk of age-related cataract.28 Add to it the antioxidant beta-carotene, which constitutes 9% of the carotenoid mixture in pineapple juice.29 Unlike other carotenes like lycopene and luteine, beta-carotene converts into vitamin A (retinol) in the body which plays an important role in eye health.30
12. Boosts Immunity
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, as is beta-carotene, which are both found in substantial quantities in pineapple juice. More antioxidants also mean better immunity against many diseases, especially in many age-related diseases.31
The antioxidants and minerals in pineapple juice can boost the natural antioxidant store in your body.
In addition, manganese is an important component of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) that is an important part of the body’s natural defense. SOD fights free radicals and prevents cell damage and inflammation.32
13. Reduces Period Cramps
Dysmenorrhea, or painful period, has a remedy in bromelain. Pain during periods is often caused by contractions of the uterus triggered by a chemical called prostaglandin. Bromelain decreases the levels of PGE2, a type of prostaglandins that cause the contraction, while increasing the levels of PGE1, the type that relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus.33
While bromelain capsules or bromelain applied directly into the cervix works faster, drinking pineapple juice can also help. Moreover, pineapple juice also contains a good amount of magnesium, which has been seen to help in reducing lower back pain.34
14. May Boost Fertility And Prevent Birth Defects
Some experts think that pineapple juice can help with fertility as bromelain is a natural blood thinner, which helps increase blood flow to the uterus. Selenium in the fruit also helps thicken the uterine lining and prepares it for embryo implantation.35 However, we need large-scale studies to conclusively establish this benefit before eating pineapples for pregnancy can become a standard practice.
While there’s no conclusive evidence for pineapple’s ability to give you a baby, there’s no harm in trying this folk remedy.
Pineapple juice has a good quantity of folate, which is essential for fetal growth. Folate supplementation during pregnancy is important in avoiding many birth defects in babies. But pregnant women should first check with their doctors whether pineapples are suitable for them.
Drink Fresh Pineapple Juice And Chew The Core
No matter what fruit you are consuming, the whole fruit always scores way above its juice on nutritional content. It is common knowledge that a lot of the fruit’s fiber is lost in juicing, and further processing depletes some of the nutrients.
- Purchase a ripe fruit and juice it within a couple of days. Storing the whole fruit for 2 weeks at room temperature can bring the vitamin C content down to about 59–65%.36
- Drink freshly made pineapple juice. This retains the vitamin A and vitamin C content. As per a study, storing the juice in plastic bottles for 2 months left the juice with just about 10–21% of vitamin C.37
- The amount of bromelain present in canned pineapples is not enough to have strong medicinal effects. This is why you should drink the fresh juice regularly, for a few months, at least, to notice the benefits.
- Don’t heat the juice. Pasteurizing the juice further can reduce the vitamin C content to 28–46%.38
- The pineapple core has the highest amount of bromelain. So though it’s tougher and a tad less sweet than the flesh, chew on the core to get bromelain benefits. Of course, you may want to take bromelain supplements to get a concentrated dose, but in that case, you are missing out on the wholesome nutrition the juice or the whole fruit provides.
Drink Pineapple Juice In Moderation, Especially If You Are Diabetic Or Watching Your Weight
It has been widely publicized on the Internet that pineapple juice helps weight loss. This is mainly because of the low calorie count of the juice, which as mentioned earlier, is just about 130 calories in 8 oz undiluted juice. But that alone does not help. A cup of the juice also has about 25 g sugar, which gives it a medium-range glycemic index of 45–66.39 This means it will release a considerable amount of glucose after being digested. So weight watchers and diabetics should be careful with this fruit. Needless to say, don’t add sugar to the juice.
Beware Of Pineapple Allergy
Though generally good for health, pineapple juice has a flip side. You could be allergic to pineapple. Bromelain may cause gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea, nausea, and flatulence.
If you are allergic to latex, wheat, celery, papaya, or grass pollen, you may be allergic to the bromelain in pineapple juice too.
It could also manifest as headaches, tiredness, dry mouth, skin rash, and allergic reactions.40
While people with ulcerative colitis can benefit from bromelain, those with stomach ulcers should avoid pineapple juice.41
Cut Down On Pineapple Juice If You Are on Blood-Thinners Or Antibiotics
You should be especially careful with your pineapple juice consumption if you are on blood thinners as bromelain could increase the risk of bleeding.
If you are on antibiotics, pineapple juice can enhance its effects. This can be potentially harmful if the levels of antibiotics in the blood rise above what is normal and helpful.42
Pineapple juice undoubtedly is an amazing drink with many health benefits. But like we always say, having everything in moderation is key to good health.
References [ + ]
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|17.||↑||Castiglioni, Sara, Alessandra Cazzaniga, Walter Albisetti, and Jeanette AM Maier. “Magnesium and osteoporosis: current state of knowledge and future research directions.” Nutrients 5, no. 8 (2013): 3022-3033.|
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|23.||↑||Vitamin C. USDA National Nutrient Database.|
|24.||↑||Micronutrient-Vitamin C. Oregon State University.|
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Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.