Can You Eat Pineapple Core? Benefits & Drawbacks Revealed

Sliced your pineapple open, ate the juicy bits, but don’t know what to do with the core? Are you tempted to eat it but are hesitant about its side effects? We know pineapple skin is edible, but what about the core? 

The pineapple core is hard, less juicy, and bitter when compared to the enveloping soft, juicy flesh, and because of that, most people avoid it. So, can you even eat pineapple core?

To answer the question, I’ve started by conducting some research to find out the downsides of eating pineapple core, but I found something remarkable. Want to learn more about the subject? I invite you to continue reading this article. 

Can you eat the pineapple’s core?

eating pineapple core

Many people hesitate to eat pineapple core because they’re concerned over it being poisonous.

According to the horticulture department at Purdue University, eating unripe pineapple or drinking unripe pineapple juice is dangerous. It’s toxic to humans and can lead to severe diarrhea and vomiting. 

They also point out that excessive consumption of the pineapple core can cause the formation of fiber balls (bezoars) in the digestive tract. 1

Bezoar is a mass of indigestible material that accumulates in your digestive tract, sometimes causing blockage. Experts classify bezoars according to the material that forms them.

Phytobezoar, which is composed of indigestible food fiber, occurs in various vegetables and fruits, and is more likely to form through the ingestion of raw plant foods, as some are difficult to digest. Thus, softening certain foods through cooking is important because it promotes digestion. 

Among the gastrointestinal bezoars, phytobezoars are the most common. However, according to an old 1998 study, they are a rare cause of intestinal blockage. 2 An updated study reports that certain high-fiber foods like pumpkins, grape skins, prunes, and especially persimmons are a risk factor for bezoar formation. They also mention that among the cases of intestinal obstruction, bezoars represent a slim 0.4%-4%. 3 Weirdly enough, the oral intake of Coca-Cola is an effective treatment for bezoars. 4

From my analysis of these studies, certain high-fiber foods (particularly persimmons) can cause intestinal blockage, but only if you exaggerate their consumption, or have conditions that hamper their solubility, namely:

  • Reduced stomach acid (hypochloridia) or decreased stomach size;
  • Can’t or don’t chew your food properly, typically because of the lack of teeth or a poorly fitting denture;
  • Prior gastric surgery such as a gastric band (for weight loss) or gastric bypass;
  • Delayed gastric emptying, typically because of diabetes, auto-immune disorders, or mixed connective issue disease.

High-fiber diets are an appropriate recommendation for the majority, but some individuals are prone to form phytobezoars and should avoid certain kinds of foods, particularly ones with a lot of indigestible cellulose. 5

Dietary fiber, as most evidence suggests, has a host of health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

However, like anything else, you might have side-effects from consuming it in excess.  

According to Medical News Today, excess fiber would be something like 70g per day, which is 29g more than what vegans commonly consume. 6, 7

Experts recommend that individuals with a high fiber intake should drink plenty of water (among other fluids) as it may help with digestive issues.

The pineapple core also contains dietary fiber, so even though consuming it in excess may cause bezoars to form, I haven’t found evidence suggesting that eating it occasionally may lead to complications. 

Can you eat pineapple core when pregnant?

Certain sources like Healthline don’t recommend Bromelain tablets during pregnancy, especially because we have so little information on whether it’s safe to use it when breastfeeding. Other sources point out that bromelain may increase the risk of bleeding, thus you should avoid it during pregnancy.

However, these sources also point out that the bromelain available in a single serving of the pineapple core isn’t likely to impact pregnancy.

Pineapple core benefits

Other than dietary fiber, the pineapple core also contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and an enzyme called bromelain that might prove beneficial to our health. 

Let’s look at the science to identify the benefits these elements may generate. 

Vitamin C

Believe it or not, the pineapple core is also a nutritious part of the pineapple. Even though it’s not as sweet as the flesh, the core packs nutritional punch. 

As you would expect, it is lower in calories, carbs, and sugars than the flesh, but each serving (about 5 ounces) provides you with the following nutrients:

  • 44 calories
  • 18g of carbs
  • 1.9g of fiber
  • 13g of sugar
  • 0.9g of protein
  • 90% of the DV (daily value) of vitamin C
  • 2% of the DV of vitamin A
  • 2% of the DV of calcium

The pineapple core is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant that fights oxidative stress and promotes collagen synthesis. Your body also needs Vitamin C to absorb iron, repair bones and teeth, and form new tissue. 

Vitamin C may also speed weight loss, according to a review published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology in May 2014. 8 Vitamin C can improve the body’s ability to burn fat and use glucose, consequently reducing fat accumulation.

Polyphenols & Beta-Carotene

Pineapple’s core is also a superb source of polyphenols, which are packed with antioxidants and potential health benefits.

According to a review published in Frontiers in Nutrition, diets rich in polyphenols may protect against acute and chronic diseases, including diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, and obesity. 9

Beta-carotene is another antioxidant found in pineapple’s core, and it can promote vitamin A production. Both support your immune system and promote eye and skin health.

Akin to most antioxidants, they protect your cells and tissue from free radicals, which are associated with aging and may play a role in cancer, heart disease, and conditions like arthritis. 10

Bromelain

The pineapple core is popular for containing bromelain, an enzyme that fights cancer and inflammation.

We can verify this by reading the review published on in Separation and Purification Technology, where the researchers state bromelain occurs naturally in pineapple stem, core, peel, and crown. 11

A study suggests macerating pineapple core produces high concentrations of bromelain. The researchers also point out that bromelain helps break down protein in the digestive tract, and has various therapeutic applications. It’s prized for its anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic and antibiotic effects. 12

A review on the potential role of bromelain in clinical and therapeutic applications – suggests that bromelain can modulate the immune system, suppress inflammation, and protect against bacterial infections.

They also found that bromelain administration resulted in a significant decrease in pain and stiffness in patients with knee osteoarthritis. The review also reports that bromelain was successful in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and patients showed a rapid improvement of symptoms. 13, 14, 15

Bromelain isn’t all good news.

According to the NIH, some studies have reported a few side effects. The most common were a stomach upset and diarrhea, though I’ve also found rare cases of subjects experiencing abnormal uterine bleeding, drowsiness, heavy menstruation, increased heart rate, nausea, and vomiting.

In some individuals, bromelain may also trigger allergic reactions and asthma symptoms.

How to use pineapple core

how to use pineapple core

It seems we might experience benefits and drawbacks from eating pineapple core, but the benefits seem to outweigh the drawbacks, so you just have to be careful not to abuse it. 

Frankly, no one is going to eat pineapple core if it’s tough to chew, not to mention the fact it has a pretty unpleasant taste too. 

Therefore, to best way to eat it is by chopping the core into various pieces, and add them to a smoothie, as it’s the best way to break down the core into a form you can savor and properly digest.

Assuming that you’re eating the flesh first, you won’t need the core until later, so it’s a good idea to store in the freezer. Chop it up into small pieces, and transfer it to freezer bags. You’ll then be able to create an ice-cold smoothie without really needing ice. 

The pineapple core is really tough, so I wouldn’t recommend you eat it raw, otherwise, you might really break your teeth. You’ll also need a powerful blender (like the Vitamix E310) to reduce it to a pulp. A cheaper blender works, but it will not last long with something as durable as the pineapple core. 

You can also slice the pineapple core thinly (using a very sharp knife set), and snack on it. Thin slices will be easier to chew, and the sour flavor will be a bit more bearable. Another cool way to use the pineapple core is to grate it and add it to salads. Some people also simmer it into a spiced drink. 

Regardless of the method you use, attempt to save pineapple cores instead of throwing them away, as they might serve some purpose in the future. In the meantime, you’re also lowering the amount of household waste you produce, and some evidence even suggests your doing your health a favor. 

Conclusion

The pineapple core is high in vitamin C, it contains polyphenols, beta-carotene, and bromelain, which scientific literature describes as being beneficial for our health. 

However, it’s not advised that you eat it excessively, as it increases the risk of developing phytobezoars, which are fiber balls that accumulate in the digestive tract. They only represent 0.4%-4% of cases of intestinal obstruction, but you still have to be careful, especially if you have pre-conditions like reduced stomach acid. Gastric acid facilitates the digestion of stomach acid, hence the importance of having adequate amounts of it. 

Other pre-conditions include the incapacity to chew foods properly, and a prior gastric surgery. If you have any of these conditions, speak to your doctor before you chew on a hard pineapple core. 


References:

1 – Morton, J. 1987. Pineapple. p. 18–28. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.

2 – Rubin M, Shimonov M, Grief F, Rotestein Z, Lelcuk S. Phytobezoar: a rare cause of intestinal obstruction. Dig Surg. 1998;15(1):52-4. doi: 10.1159/000018586. PMID: 9845563.

3 – Dikicier E, Altintoprak F, Ozkan OV, Yagmurkaya O, Uzunoglu MY. Intestinal obstruction due to phytobezoars: An update. World J Clin Cases. 2015 Aug 16;3(8):721-6. doi: 10.12998/wjcc.v3.i8.721. PMID: 26301232; PMCID: PMC4539411.

4 – Ertuğrul G, Coşkun M, Sevinç M, Ertuğrul F, Toydemir T. Treatment of gastric phytobezoars with Coca-Cola given via oral route: a case report. Int J Gen Med. 2012;5:157-61. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S29453. Epub 2012 Feb 23. PMID: 22393302; PMCID: PMC3292399.

5 – Emerson AP. Foods high in fiber and phytobezoar formation. J Am Diet Assoc. 1987 Dec;87(12):1675-7. PMID: 2824590.

6 – medicalnewstoday.com/articles/146935#how-much-is-too-much

7 – Clarys P, Deliens T, Huybrechts I, Deriemaeker P, Vanaelst B, De Keyzer W, Hebbelinck M, Mullie P. Comparison of nutritional quality of the vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian and omnivorous diet. Nutrients. 2014 Mar 24;6(3):1318-32. doi: 10.3390/nu6031318. PMID: 24667136; PMCID: PMC3967195.

8 – Diego Fernando GARCIA-DIAZ, Patricia LOPEZ-LEGARREA, Pablo QUINTERO, Jose Alfredo MARTINEZ, Vitamin C in the Treatment and/or Prevention of Obesity, Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 2014, Volume 60, Issue 6, Pages 367-379, Released April 06, 2015, Online ISSN 1881-7742, Print ISSN 0301-4800, https://doi.org/10.3177/jnsv.60.367

9 – Cory H, Passarelli S, Szeto J, Tamez M, Mattei J. The Role of Polyphenols in Human Health and Food Systems: A Mini-Review. Front Nutr. 2018 Sep 21;5:87. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2018.00087. PMID: 30298133; PMCID: PMC6160559.

10 – www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=BetaCarotene

11 – Ram Saran Chaurasiya, H. Umesh Hebbar, Extraction of bromelain from pineapple core and purification by RME and precipitation methods, Separation and Purification Technology, Volume 111, 2013, Pages 90-97, ISSN 1383-5866, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.seppur.2013.03.029.

12 – inabj.org/index.php/ibj/article/view/75/269

13 – Rathnavelu V, Alitheen NB, Sohila S, Kanagesan S and Ramesh R: Potential role of bromelain in clinical and therapeutic applications (Review). Biomed Rep 5: 283-288, 2016.

14 – Onken JE, Greer PK, Calingaert B and Hale LP: Bromelain treatment decreases secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines by colon biopsies in vitro. Clin Immunol. 126:345–352. 2008.

15 – Walker AF, Bundy R, Hicks SM and Middleton RW: Bromelain reduces mild acute knee pain and improves well-being in a dose-dependent fashion in an open study of otherwise healthy adults. Phytomedicine. 9:681–686. 2002.

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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