Health benefits: pineapple

A pineapple is a tropical fruit known for its iconic shape – a sphere of sweet and juicy flesh surrounded by a tough, segmented skin, with a tuft of spiky green leaves on top. The fruit is actually a collection of flowers, each with its own eye that is fused around the centre core, and it takes about three years for just one pineapple to reach full maturation.

Nutritional benefits of pineapple

Pineapples are naturally high in fibre, an important component of a healthy diet that can help improve digestion.

Pineapples also contain a good array of vitamins and minerals including calcium, manganese, plus vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid.

One of the key phytonutrients found in pineapple is bromelain that has long been recognised for its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects.

Both fresh and tinned pineapple counts towards your five-a-day target, but if you go for the tinned variety, choose a can with no added sugar or salt. An 80g portion, or one average slice, counts as one of your five-a-day. One 150ml glass of pineapple juice also counts, but be aware that this is high in sugars and can be damaging to teeth.

Can pineapple help protect against cardiovascular disease?

Some research has suggested that the bromelain in pineapple may help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as thrombosis by helping to prevent blood clotting. However, more research is required before a clear link between pineapple and heart health can be established.

Can pineapple improve digestion?

Pineapple is high in fibre, which is important for a healthy digestive system. There has also been some promising initial research into the anti-inflammatory effect of bromelain on ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel condition, both in mice and in human cells, however, more evidence is needed before this benefit can be proven in human studies.

Can pineapples promote healing after injury?

In vitro research (conducted in a test tube) showed promising signs that bromelain may improve wound healing, although any medical use for it is probably still a long way off.

Written for BBC Good Food