Beyond its tangy-sweet taste, pineapple is also a totally nutrient-dense food.
This exotic (and prickly) fruit has its fair share of health benefits, including taming inflammation, strengthening bones, and boosting digestion. To add to all this goodness, there are about a million healthy recipes that have pineapple.
Want more of this tropical dreamboat in your life? Here are six amazing benefits of pineapple, how to use it, and (bonus!) how the heck to cut it right.
Beneath a pineapple’s formidable exterior lies a wealth of important nutrients. Here’s what you can expect to take in from 1 cup (165 grams) of raw pineapple chunks:
Fat: 0.2 grams
Protein: 0.9 grams
Carbs: 21.6 grams
Sugars: 16 grams
Fiber: 2.3 grams
Vitamin C: 88% DV (daily value)
Manganese: 67% DV
Vitamin B6: 11% DV
Copper: 20% DV
Folate: 7% DV
Potassium: 4% DV
Magnesium: 5% DV
Pineapple is native to South and Central America and is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. In fact, it even has its very own inflammation-calming enzyme called bromelain. This compound found in the juice and stem of the fruit has been used medicinally since ancient times— and, in more recent times, has been studied for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Several studies from the early 2000s showed that bromelain could reduce markers of inflammation in the blood, as well as possibly improve symptoms of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
A 2021 pharmacological review even proposed bromelain as an alternative to some artificially manufactured medicines (though, we’ll be honest, more research is needed before you’ll see pineapple pills alongside ibuprofen at the drugstore).
Oh, and fun fact: Bromelain also works as a meat tenderizer, so you can quell inflammation and soften up steak with it.
For some folks, inflammation may be a once-in-awhile annoyance in the form of a headache or a case of pink eye. But if you live with arthritis, you know just how life-altering chronic inflammation can be. That’s where pineapple’s bromelain content could play a helpful role.
Research dating back to the 1960s has explored how bromelain could alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis in the Western world). The results are intriguing!
One study compared a combo of bromelain and two other plant-based enzymes to a common arthritis medication in over 100 subjects with osteoarthritis. After 6 weeks, both treatments had similar effects on reducing pain and inflammation.
Another review looked at multiple studies and determined that bromelain might be effective for relieving arthritis symptoms (but recommended further trials to make any definite conclusions).
Diets higher in fruits (any fruits!) tend to correlate with lower risk of cancer, but one nutrient in pineapple could spell even better odds for defying this disease: Vitamin C. Yep, there’s a particular connection between vitamin C and the Big C.
Vitamin C can limit the formation of carcinogens, regulate your immune response, and (since it’s an antioxidant) prevent cellular damage that could lead to cancer. With pineapple’s whopping vitamin C content — over 88 percent of your daily recommendation in 1 cup — it can be a delicious part of a cancer-prevention diet.
Plus, let’s bring bromelain back on the stage, shall we? Some research suggests bromelain can be used to control the growth of tumors. A recent animal study showed that bromelain kept colorectal tumor cells from spreading, and another (again, on animals) found that it enhanced the effectiveness of a common chemotherapy drug for treating breast cancer.
As micronutrients go, vitamin C doesn’t deserve all the glory for health benefits. Manganese, one of those forgotten stepsister-type minerals, merits its share of the spotlight for its ability to boost bone health. This nutrient is involved in the formation of healthy bones, and — with pals calcium, zinc, and copper — promotes mineral density in your bones. And in 1 cup of pineapple, you’ll get 67 percent of your daily rec.
Bromelain, we’re not done with you yet!
In addition to its other amazing abilities, bromelain breaks down proteins. So when you eat pineapple with, say, pork loin or crispy tofu, it gets to work deconstructing their proteins, making them easier for your small intestine to absorb. (Remember how we said it tenderizes meat? Same thing happens inside your body.)
For people who don’t produce enough digestive enzymes on their own — like those with pancreatic insufficiency — this can be especially helpful. But, really, anyone can benefit from smoother breakdown and better absorption of foods.
Meanwhile, as bromelain does its thing on dietary protein, the fiber in pineapple is at work for improving digestion, too. At 2.3 grams of fiber per 1 cup, it adds to the daily target of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. More fiber not only reduces the risk of constipation, but paves the way for a healthy gut microbiome. Props for pineapple!
We’re (obviously) superfans of this king of tropical fruits. But pineapple does come with one drawback: Its sugar content.
One cup will run you a little over 16 grams of natural sugar. If you’re watching your sugar intake because of conditions like diabetes, this may be something to watch for.
When picking out a pineapple, look for one that has a slight fragrance and is just a tiny bit soft to the touch. Keep in mind that all its health and nutritional benefits far outweigh its tough, prickly outer layer!
Ready to master the art of peeling, trimming, and coring a pineapple? You’ll need a sharp knife, cutting board, and pineapple, of course!
The art of cutting a pineapple
- Lay the pineapple down on its side and remove the stalk. While you’re at it, slice off about 3/4 of an inch at the top and bottom.
- Turn it upright and start to slice the skin off in strips. (Sounds weird to call it “skin” doesn’t it?)
- Now it should look like this cool multi-surfaced yummy-smelling fruit. Put the pineapple back on its side and use the knife to divvy it up into slices — but be careful, that sucker gets slippery.
- Cut out the little circle of core in the middle of each slice and voila — yummy pineapple slices await you.
Call us bananas for pineapple, but we just can’t get enough! Try this recipe as a great option for breakfast, brunch, or dessert. It’s sure to satisfy even the strongest sweet tooth without breaking the sugar bank!
What you’ll need:
1 pineapple, sliced lengthwise into 8 wedges*
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey 2–4 tablespoons milk (of your choice)
3/4 cup roasted pistachios (unsalted), chopped
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
What to do:
- Heat grill (or grill pan) to medium-high heat and grease grates with oil.
- Place pineapple wedges on grill grates, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until nice grill marks appear.
- While the pineapple is cooking, combine Greek yogurt, honey, and milk until it reaches the consistency you prefer.
- To serve, set 2 pineapple wedges on a plate, and drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
*Note: Many supermarkets sell pineapples already cut into such wedges, if you wish to cut out a step!