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Pineapple – A Natural Digestive Aid

Pineapple – A Natural Digestive Aid
by Natalie Butler, RD, LD

Only second to bananas, pineapple is the most eaten tropical fruit in the United States. Although they are typically available year around in grocery stores, you will find the best prices during pineapple season, March through June. Pineapples are grown in Hawaii, Thailand, the Philippines, China, Brazil and Mexico. This incredibly sweet tropical fruit is rich in a substance called bromelain. Now why is this so important? Research shows bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme, aids in digestion of foods, reduces inflammation throughout the body, reduces excessive coagulation of the blood and inhibits tumor growth. WOW!

The flesh closest to the core and bottom tastes the sweetest and has a more tender texture. Bromelain is found in highest concentrations within the core and stem. Most studies to date primarily use bromelain extract obtained from pineapple stem but several studies since 2011 reveal digestive benefits in patients after drinking pineapple juice. This suggests the fruit itself contains significant bromelain concentrations as well. Because whole fruits always contain fiber, whereas fruit juice does not, eating the whole fruit is still recommended. You will get the juice, as well as all the benefits that the rest of the fruit provides.

Vitamin C is often synonymous with oranges, but did you know one cup of fresh pineapple contains nearly the exact same amount of calories (82) and Vitamin C (79mg) as 1 orange? That’s giving you 131% of your daily need of Vitamin C! Vitamin C is not only a water-soluble vitamin but it is also a water-soluble antioxidant, which fights cellular damage in all of the aqueous tissues – arteries, colon, lungs, and joints, among others. That is why a Vitamin C rich diet has been shown to significantly impact the severity of conditions like heart disease, colon cancer, asthma, and arthritis. One cup of pineapple is also rich in the trace mineral manganese, providing 76% of your daily value. Manganese assists enzymes in energy production and antioxidant activity. It seems like we can all use extra energy these days.

Diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis, or delayed gastric emptying, resulting in very slow movement (or halting) of food through the digestive tract. Multiple studies have found that diabetic patients have improved gastroparesis after consuming pineapple juice. In fact, one study, published in Endocrine Practice in 2011, revealed that pineapple juice actually dissolved undigested food in a diabetic patient’s stomach. WOW! Whether you are diabetic or not, this kind of digestive aid is something we can all benefit from, especially as we age!

How to Store
To choose a fully ripened fruit, choose a pineapple that smells sweet and tropical at the base and is heavy for its size. A whole, uncut pineapple can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 days or wrapped in a plastic bag or plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Once cut, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. After 6 days of being stored, Vitamin C content only changes by 10% and other antioxidant activity changes minimally so you can can prep your pineapple ahead of time and eat it for days! Hooray!

I think it’s pretty amazing that a delicious, sweet fruit can help digest meals, support immune function, reduce inflammation, prevent disease, reduce cancer growth, promote energy production and fight cellular damage. I know it sounds too good to be true, but in the case of pineapple… it’s not! So next time you are grocery shopping, pick up a pineapple, or 2, and enjoy it’s many benefits!

Easy Pineapple Salsa (Makes about 2.5 cups)
This recipe is wonderful as a topping on grilled chicken, fish, or tofu, as a dip, a topping on a salad or my favorite…piled on top of fish tacos!


2 cups fresh pineapple, diced
1 jalapeño, minced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juice and zest of
1/8 tsp sea salt
Optional additions: mango, serrano pepper (instead of jalapeño), red bell pepper

Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl and serve immediately. Can store in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Nutritional Info:
Per 1/4 cup serving: 25 calories (0 from fat), 2g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 4g sugar), 0g protein

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Viance Nutrition

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