Despite its rough exterior, the pineapple is a symbol of welcome and hospitality. This dates from the 17th century, when American colonists braved dangerous trade routes to import pineapple from the Caribbean Islands and share it with guests. Pineapple is also quite hospitable to your immune system: One cup has more than 100% of your daily value of cell-protecting, collagen-making vitamin C.
The mineral manganese plays an essential role in the way your body metabolizes food, clots blood, and keeps your bones healthy. One cup of pineapple has more than half of the manganese you need every day. This mineral is also present in whole grains, lentils, and black pepper.
In addition to large amounts of vitamin C and manganese, pineapples add to your daily value of vitamin B6, copper, thiamin, folate, potassium, magnesium, niacin, riboflavin, and iron.
Pineapples are the only known food source of bromelain, a combination of enzymes that digest protein. That’s why pineapple works as a meat tenderizer: The bromelain breaks down the protein and softens the meat. In your body, bromelain makes it easier for you to digest food and absorb it.
When you eat, your body breaks down food. This process creates molecules called free radicals. The same goes for exposure to tobacco smoke and radiation. Pineapples are rich in flavonoids and phenolic acids, two antioxidants that protect your cells from free radicals that can cause chronic disease. More studies are needed, but bromelain has also been linked to a reduced risk of cancer.
Bromelain, the digestive enzyme in pineapple, has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. This helps when you have an infection, like sinusitis, or an injury, like a sprain or burn. It also offsets the joint pain of osteoarthritis. The vitamin C in pineapple juice also keeps inflammation levels low.