Nutritional Benefits Of Pineapples

The general believe is that pineapples originate in Central and South America. The indigenous peoples use them as food and medicine for thousands of meals. Eventually, the Europeans would discover them in 1493.

That was the same year that Christopher Columbus would complete his second voyage to the Caribbean. The Europeans made their discovery on the island that now has recognition as ‘Guadalupe’.

Columbus and other explorers who followed him brought pineapples back to Europe, where people attempted to grow them. Not surprisingly, the Europeans had little success. The reason is that pineapples require a tropical environment.

Still, it is known that by the 18th century, pineapples were growing in Hawaii. Today, Hawaii is the only American state in which they grow. However, pineapples are also grow in Mexico, China, Brazil, Thailand, and the Philip pines.

Pineapples contain a considerable amount of the trace element manganese and very high amounts of vitamin C. Still, the nutritional benefits of pineapples are probably best known for their link to the bromelain found in the core and stem.

Bromelain, comes from a family of enzymes effective in treating various medical problems. Treating inflammation and pain associated with arthri­tis, ulcerative colitis, sinusitis, and allergic airway disease or asthma.

But is their research to support these claims?

Pineapples In Arthritis Treatment

Arthritis Treatment

In a six-week Pakistani study published in 2004 in Clinical Rheumatology, researchers treated 103 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee with either an oral enzyme combination (ERC) containing Rutin, bromelain, and tryp­sin, or diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug available by pre­scription.

Researchers found that 54.1 percent of the people taking ERC and 37.2 percent of those taking diclofenac reported at least “good” improvement. So, in this study, people taking ERC had better results than those on prescription medication.

A study published in 2001 in the Journal Of The Association Of Physicians of India in Mumbai, India. It also investigated how the combination of the same three enzymes compared with diclofenac. The researchers randomly placed 50 patients between the ages of 40 and 75 with knee osteoarthritis.

The patients were given three tablets of the enzymes twice each day. Diclofenac, 50 mg, twice each day. The treatment continued for three weeks. The researchers noted that at the end of the treatment and a follow-up appointment at seven weeks, both groups had a reduction in pain and joint tenderness.

The study group had a slight improvement in the range of motion.

Pineapples, Bromelain, And Pain Relief

In a British study published in 2002 in Phytomedicine, researchers reviewed the effect bromelain may have on healthy adults who experience mild acute knee pain for less than three months.

At the beginning of the study, the volunteers completed two questionnaires. Then, there was placement on either 200 mg or 400 mg bromelain for one month. Seventy-seven peo­ple conducted the study.

People in both groups reported reductions in their symptoms, such as stiffness. But, the volunteers taking the higher dose had more significant improvement.

The researchers concluded that “bromelain may be effective in ameliorating physical symptoms and improving general well­ being in otherwise healthy adults suffering from mild knee pain in a dose­ dependent manner.”

In another British study published in 2006 in QJM, 47 subjects with moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis were placed on 12 weeks of bromelain 800 mg/day or a placebo, with a four-week follow-up. Fourteen bro­melain and 17 placebo patients completed the study. The researchers found no statistical differences in outcomes between the two groups.

They concluded that “this study suggests that bromelain is not efficacious as an adjunctive treatment of moderate to severe OA [osteoarthritis].”

One cannot help but wonder if bromelain tends to be more useful when the condition is relatively mild. The nutritional benefits of pineapples might be less beneficial when the condition is more advanced.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that primarily affects the colon that may seriously impair an individual’s regular activity.

Symptoms include diarrhea, joint pain, anemia, profound fatigue, abdominal pain, weight loss, and intestinal bleeding. Additionally, ulcerative colitis has also been associated with higher rates of colorectal cancer.

Laura P. Hale, MD, Ph.D., at Duke University, has been studying the use of bromelain to control bowel inflammation in mice.

She reported in a 2005 study, “Daily treatment with oral bromelain beginning at age five weeks decreased the incidence and severity of spontaneous colitis in mice.

Bromelain also significantly decreased colonic inflammation’s clinical, histologic severity when administered to mice with established colitis”.

Sinusitis And The Nutritional Benefits Of Pineapples

Treatments For Sinusitis

In a 2005 German study published in InVivo, researchers analyzed using bromelain for 116 children under 11 who suffered from sinusitis. Sixty-two children would receive treatment with Bromelain. Thirty-four had treatment with Bromelain and standard therapies. Twenty had treatment with standard thera­pies.

The standard therapies included antibiotics, pain relievers, and corti­sone sprays.

The researchers found that the children treated only with bromelain had the fastest improvement- 6.66 days.

Those treated with the standard therapy improved in 7.95 days. The children who received bro­melain and traditional treatments required the longest time to see improvement in their symptoms-9.06 days.

The researchers wrote that ‘the children who received only bromelain “showed a statistically significant faster recovery from symptoms (p = 0.005) than other treatment groups.” So, it is not surprising that, in Germany, bro­melain has a common use for childhood sinusitis.

Allergic Airway Disease Or Asthma

In a study published in 2005 in Cellular Immunology, they would induce acute asthma in three groups of mice. For four days, one group has a treatment with 2 mg of bromelain per kg twice daily.

The second group was treated with 6 mg Bromelain per kg twice daily. The third group, the control, will have a treatment with saline. The researchers determined that the bromelain reduced the levels of white blood cells, which increases with asthma. Furthermore, bromelain lowered the inflammatory cells that occur with asthma, known as Eosinophils, by more than 50 percent. No improvements would have been notice in the mice in the control group.

The researchers noted that “bromelain may have similar effects in treating human asthma and hypersensitivity disorders.”

Should pineapples be included in the diet? For the vast majority of peo­ple, absolutely.

Next, read our post on the Nutritional Benefits of Bananas next.

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