Is pineapple the most anti-inflammatory food?

Inflammation is a natural process that helps the body heal from injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation can contribute to diseases like arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce inflammation and lower disease risk.

Pineapple is a tropical fruit known for its sweet taste, vibrant color, and potential health benefits. Some research suggests pineapple contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. This article reviews the evidence on pineapple and inflammation and how it compares to other anti-inflammatory foods.

Pineapple Nutrition

Pineapples are low in calories but packed with nutrients. One cup (165 grams) of pineapple chunks contains:

  • Calories: 82
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbs: 22 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 131% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Manganese: 76% of the DV
  • Copper: 21% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 9% of the DV
  • Thiamine: 9% of the DV
  • Folate: 7% of the DV
  • Potassium: 5% of the DV

Pineapples also contain various antioxidants, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, and bromelain.

Bromelain in Pineapples

Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes naturally found in pineapple stems and fruit. It provides pineapple with some of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Test-tube and animal studies indicate bromelain reduces inflammatory markers, such as COX-2 and nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) (1, 2).

In humans, bromelain may reduce pain, improve breathing, aid wound healing, and alleviate sinus inflammation (3).

Aside from pineapple, bromelain is also available as an oral supplement. Doses range from 40–1,000 mg per day but more research is needed to determine optimal dosing.

Other Anti-Inflammatory Compounds

Alongside bromelain, pineapple contains various vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that may help fight inflammation.

Vitamin C

Pineapples are packed with vitamin C. This vitamin has antioxidant properties and is vital for immune health.

Some research indicates high vitamin C intake may lower inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) (4).

Beta Carotene

Pineapples are an excellent source of beta carotene, a red-orange pigment antioxidant. Your body converts beta carotene to vitamin A, which regulates immune responses that drive inflammation.

Studies show beta carotene supplementation reduces CRP levels in people with diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome (5, 6).

Vitamins B1, B6, and Folate

Pineapples are a good source of B vitamins, including thiamine (B1), pyridoxine (B6), and folate.

B vitamins play key roles in cell metabolism and immune function. Low levels are linked to increased inflammation and conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmunity (7, 8).


Pineapple is exceptionally high in the trace mineral manganese which is vital for metabolism, bone health, and wound healing.

Manganese deficiency is associated with poor collagen formation and autoimmune disorders. Ensuring adequate manganese intake may help control inflammation.


Pineapples contain polyphenols, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, and tannins. Polyphenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in your body.

Test-tube studies reveal pineapple polyphenols suppress inflammatory chemicals like nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) (9).

How Pineapple Compares to Other Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Below is a comparison of the anti-inflammatory nutrients in 1 cup (165 grams) of pineapple and other antioxidant-rich fruits:

Fruit Vitamin C Beta Carotene Manganese Polyphenols
Pineapple 131% DV 3% DV 76% DV Moderate
Strawberries 160% DV 1% DV 9% DV High
Oranges 163% DV 1% DV 2% DV Moderate
Cherries 30% DV 5% DV 3% DV High

While not the highest in any one nutrient, pineapple contains a unique combination of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and polyphenols that work together to fight inflammation.

Health Benefits of Pineapple

Research suggests pineapple and its compounds may improve inflammatory conditions like arthritis, allergy symptoms, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

May Ease Arthritis

Arthritis involves inflammation and deterioration of joint tissues. Bromelain may benefit osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis by reducing inflammation.

In one study, people with osteoarthritis taking bromelain had significantly greater pain reduction and function improvement after 3 months, compared to those given a placebo (10).

Other human and animal studies demonstrate similar benefits. However, more research is needed (11, 12).

May Reduce Allergy Symptoms

Allergies involve an overactive immune response that triggers nasal inflammation.

Bromelain displays anti-inflammatory effects that may suppress allergy symptoms and reduce nasal swelling (13).

In one study, 165 people with sinus inflammation received bromelain or a placebo. After 4 days, those taking bromelain reported significantly greater symptom improvement (14).

Could Improve Asthma

Asthma is a chronic lung disease caused by inflammation-induced airway constriction. Bromelain may minimize asthma symptoms by reducing airway inflammation.

In one study, mice with asthma were treated with bromelain. Bromelain significantly decreased inflammatory markers and lung tissue damage compared to a control group (15).

Human research shows similar benefits but is limited to a few older, small studies. More research is needed (16).

May Help IBD

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) involves chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Bromelain may suppress intestinal inflammation, improve healing, and reduce IBD symptoms.

In one study, people with ulcerative colitis receiving bromelain showed significant improvements in symptom scores, compared to those given a placebo (17).

Bromelain may also speed recovery from IBD flare-ups. In one study, 57% of children with Crohn’s disease achieved remission taking bromelain, compared to only 29% of the control group (18).

Other Potential Benefits

Early research indicates pineapple benefits may also include:

  • Improved wound healing: Proteases like bromelain speed up tissue repair by stimulating immune responses and blood flow (19).
  • Reduced mucus production: Bromelain thins mucus in lungs and sinuses, which may relieve cough and congestion (20).
  • Accelerated recovery: Enzymes in pineapple juice may reduce muscle damage and inflammation after exercise (21).

That said, more human research is needed.

Possible Side Effects

Pineapple is generally safe. However, bromelain may cause side effects in some people.

Potential side effects include (22):

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Menstrual problems
  • Skin rash
  • Anxiety
  • Headache

High doses may increase bleeding risk. If you’re taking blood thinners, have bleeding disorder, or upcoming surgery, talk to your healthcare provider before taking bromelain.

Additionally, some people may be allergic to bromelain or pineapple. Stop using and see a doctor if you develop swelling, hives, or breathing problems.

The Bottom Line

Pineapple is delicious tropical fruit full of anti-inflammatory vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. Evidence suggests pineapple may help reduce joint pain, allergy symptoms, asthma, and digestive issues linked to inflammation.

While pineapple is not the single best source of any one nutrient, its unique combination of compounds supports a healthy inflammatory response.

Including pineapple as part of an overall balanced diet rich in other fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains may help lower inflammation and disease risk.

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