The bromeliad family of plants very rarely produce edible fruit – with the exception of pineapple, that is. The pineapple is the only available edible bromeliad today! One pineapple is actually made up of individual flowerets that grow and weave together to form the beautiful golden fruit we call a pineapple.
The pineapples lush, sweet, exotic flavour make it a family favourite – but did you know that pineapple is also one of the most healthful foods available today?
Bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme in pineapples, is often used as a supplement itself to help boost health and clear up various health issues. Of course, eating pineapple in itself will deliver these same effects such as better heart and circulatory health, improvement in asthma and other breathing conditions as well as improved immunity, reduced inflammation and suppressed growth of cancer cells.
Bromelain possesses anticoagulant properties, and thus slows down the ability of blood to clot. This, combined with bromelain’s anti-inflammatory properties, make it a great nutritional supplement (in pure form – aka. eating a pineapple) for bruise prevention and to reduce swelling and redness from burns or sports injuries. Consuming pineapple after surgery is another way to reduce the trauma associated with incisions or injections.
There are a variety of inflammatory-related conditions, ranging from arthritis to inflammatory bowel disease and sinusitis as well as inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, acne, rosacea, dermatitis and psoriasis. The list doesn’t end there. In fact, many diseases nowadays are caused by a major influx of inflammation in the cells and tissues, whether that be from consuming the wrong foods or living in less-than-optimal environmental conditions (i.e., chemical hazards, smog, pollution, etc.).
Bromelain has been useful in treating all of the above inflammatory disorders. The major mechanism of action of bromelain is proteolytic in nature, and may also involve immunomodulatory and hormone like activity acting via intracellular signalling pathways. It has also been shown that bromelain significantly reduces CD4+T lymphocytes, which are the primary effectors involved in inflammation in the body.
Research also indicates that the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis can be reduced by supplementing with 200 – 400 mg of bromelain per day (or you could just eat lots of pineapple every day and get the same effects – remember, the natural, real form of these enzymes are far better than their modified, synthetic form).
Immunity & Cancer
Research published in the journal Planta Medica, found that the chemotherapy drug, 5-fluorauracil, was incredibly inferior to bromelain when treating cancer in an animal study. Those treated with bromelain survived 263% times more than those treated with 5-fluorauracil, relative to the untreated control. Bromelain caused no external harm to the animals, other than improving their health. Chemotherapy drugs do more harm than good, and actually kill off your healthy cells, and make more chemo resistant and malignant cell types within the tumour (meaning the cancer becomes resistant to the chemo drugs).
In addition, the anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant effects of bromelain help to boost our immunity. Studies have shown that it may be able to enhance certain immune receptors in the body, and thus enhance the ability of the body to defend against bacteria and viruses at a more efficient rate. Bromelain helps mechanisms that are already in place to work faster, and more efficiently together, and to allow cells to communicate better with one another.
Pineapple is also incredibly rich in vitamin C, which is the body’s primary water-soluble antioxidant. It defends against free radicals that attack and damage normal cells. Vitamin C is essential for proper immune function, and has also been extensively studied by Dr. Ronal Hunninghake (15-year research project called RECNAC), who showed that vitamin C was selectively cytotoxic against cancer cells in cell cultures.
Heart & Circulatory Health and Breathing Conditions
Bromelain, being an anti-coagulant, means that it may allow blood to flow more freely through the circulatory system. Blood that flows more freely is thinner, and is associated with a reduced chance of stroke, heart attack and other circulatory and heart related issues.
Not only does it help with cardiovascular health, but pineapple’s bromelain enzyme also works in such a way that it breaks down mucus and thins its consistency. In conditions like asthma where breathing is often blocked by thick mucus in the lungs, bromelain acts as a mucus thinner, and helps un-clog the bronchial tubes of the lungs, helping patients breathe better.
All parts of the pineapple contain bromelain, however, the core of the pineapple has more concentrated amounts – be sure to stick the core through a juicer to get all the benefits out of your next pineapple feast!
Sources: Live Love Fruit
Tochi, B., Wang, Z., Xu, S., & Zhang, W. (2008). Therapeutic application of pineapple protease (bromelain): A review. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 7, 513-520.
Gaby, A. (1999). Alternative treatments for rheumatoid arthritis. Altern Med Rev, 4, 392-402.
Maurer, H. (2001) Bromelain: biochemistry, pharmacology, and medical use. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS, 58, 1234-1245.