There are many reasons to eat pineapples, starting with their delicious flavor, but following are the top five health reasons you may wish to add this aromatic tropical fruit to your diet.
Top 5 Pineapple Benefits
1. Better skin
2. Prevents oxidative stress
3. Protects against cell mutation
4. Improves digestion
5. Improves blood glucose levels
Eating pineapple can help you achieve better skin because of its high vitamin C content. “One cup [(165g)] of fresh pineapple chunks provides 131% of your vitamin C needs for the day...”1 Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is vital to skin health, because of the role it plays in collagen synthesis. Collagen is the main structural protein in cells, tissues and organs; it’s the most abundant protein in the human body, and actually holds the entire body together. Even our bones contain collagen. And both dietary and topical vitamin C have other beneficial effects on skin cells, “some studies have shown that vitamin C may help prevent and treat ultraviolet (UV)-induced photodamage. However, the effects of vitamin C in the skin are not well understood due to limited research.”2
Vitamin C is also an important and powerful dietary antioxidant, and antioxidants neutralize free radicals. “If free radicals overwhelm the body's ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues. Free radicals thus adversely alter lipids, proteins, and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases.”3
Many of the diseases caused by free radicals are the result of cell damage and mutation. “Numerous investigators have proposed participation of free radicals in carcinogenesis, mutation, and transformation; it is clear that their presence in biosystem could lead to mutation, transformation, and ultimately cancer. … Antioxidants can decrease oxidative stress induced carcinogenesis by a direct scavenging of [reactive oxygen species] and/or by inhibiting cell proliferation secondary to the protein phosphorylation.”3 Free radicals are a natural byproduct of human metabolism. Fortunately, whole foods, like pineapple, are rich in the nutrients needed to neutralize those harmful byproducts and maintain our good health.
Pineapples are also great for digestion and alleviating/preventing constipation, because of their fiber and water content. One cup of fresh pineapple contains 2.3 grams of fiber. 1 whole fresh pineapple contains 13 grams, which is more than half (52%) the recommended daily allowance for dietary fiber. Oddly enough, frozen pineapple contains 2.7 grams per cup, according to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. Pineapple contains both soluble and insoluble fibers, and both are beneficial to digestion.
Soluble fiber attracts water and turns it into a gel during digestion, which slows digestion. This form of fiber has been shown in studies to lower both blood cholesterol and glucose levels. “In people with diabetes, fiber — particularly soluble fiber — can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”4
Insoluble fiber cannot be broken down by water; it adds bulk to the stool and helps food pass through the stomach and intestines with greater ease. This will increase regularity and prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. Insoluble fiber may also prevent the development of small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). When those pouches become inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis. “Ten to 25 percent of people with diverticulosis get diverticulitis. As many as one American in 10 over the age of 40 has diverticulosis; about half of all people over 60.”5 Regularly consuming whole foods, like pineapples, which are rich in fiber, could greatly decrease those numbers in all age groups.
Nutritional Differences - Fresh vs. Canned
I LOVE fresh pineapple, the flavor cannot be beat, but you can also benefit nutritionally from eating canned and frozen. I should mention, however, that frozen pineapple does not taste nearly as good as fresh, or even canned. Canned pineapple is a close second in flavor, and it does contain a little more of some nutrients. This is due to canned pineapple being packed in fruit juice. And the addition of juice means more carbohydrates, more sugar, more calories, and even a little more fiber.
Canned pineapple contains 2.4 grams of fiber, only a little bit more than fresh. The carbs, calories and sugar are a different matter. 21.7grams of carbohydrates fresh, versus 28.2grams of carbohydrates canned; 16.3grams of sugar fresh, versus 25.6grams of sugar canned; and 82 calories fresh, versus 109 calories canned. For me, that’s a lot of extra sugar, and it makes me wonder why fresh pineapple tastes so much sweeter than canned. But your priorities may differ, and getting more fiber and carbohydrates may matter more than those other factors. In any case, when you eat pineapple, whether it’s frozen, canned or freshly sliced, you known you are eating a food that is very nutritious, health promoting and delicious. … Well, actually, I can only promise the first two if it was frozen.
Guest blog by holistic writer Andrea Lewis.
1 Ware, Megan, RDN LD. “Pineapple: Health Benefits, Recipes, Health Risks”. Medical News Today, September 2011. Web. June 2016
2 Michaels, AJ, PhD. “Vitamin C and Skin Health”. Linus Pauling Institute | Oregon State University, September 2011. Web. June 2016
3 V. Lobo, A. Patil, A. Phatak, and N. Chandra. “Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact in human health”. Pharmacognosy Review, July-December 2010. Web. June 2016
4 Mayo Clinic Staff. “Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet”. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. June 2016
5 “Understanding Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis”. NIH Medline Plus, n.d. Web. June 2016
McIntosh, James. “What is collagen? What does collagen do?” Medical News Today, August 5, 2015. Web. June 2016
“Pineapple, raw, all varieties”. Self Nutrition Data, n.d. Web. June 2016
Srivastava, Mala. “Are Pineapples a Source of Fiber”. Livestrong, December 18, 2013. Web. June 2016
“Soluble vs. insoluble fiber”. Medline Plus, n.d. Web. June 2016