There’s no shortage of slightly eyebrow-raising foods that have been cited as effective for relieving the symptoms of cold and flu down the years, and you may have given some of them a go yourself when feeling under the weather. But has it ever crossed your mind in such circumstances to reach for a few slices of pineapple?
According to several sources and studies, you might be wise in doing so. Here, then, are just some of the reasons why pineapple as a cough and cold remedy may be more than just hype.
Pineapple is rich in antioxidants
A study published in Molecules in June 2014 pointed to pineapples being an excellent source of antioxidants, which are key to fighting disease in the body, given how they help to tackle inflammation and free radicals.
The antioxidants contained within pineapple include phenolics, flavonoids and vitamin C. The latter, for instance, acts as a co-factor for the immune system to enable it to catalyse enzyme reactions for both the innate and adaptive immune systems.
What’s the significance of bromelain?
This group of enzymes is especially important to pineapple’s credentials as a cough and cold treatment, given that it can only be found in pineapple juice and the pineapple stem, and has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Although bromelain has been used as a medicine for various conditions, there is currently a lack of robust scientific evidence for its effectiveness in treating many of these.
Nonetheless, it is thought that bromelain may be useful for respiratory problems related to allergies and asthma. Sources have also associated it with mucolytic properties that may help with the breakdown and expulsion of mucus.
These claims are possibly supported by the results of a 2010 study, which found that pineapple juice could form part of an effective tuberculosis treatment. The headline discovery was that a mixture of pineapple juice, honey, salt and pepper decreased cough symptoms as much as five times faster than over-the-counter (OTC) cough syrup.
So, if you’re looking to combat disease in the body such as colds and flu, and kill bacteria in such areas as the throat, the combination of vitamin C and bromelain from pineapple could be a powerful one.
How might you create a cough syrup out of pineapple?
Well, you could always take inspiration from the aforementioned study by taking a cup of pineapple juice and adding half a tablespoon of honey, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper.
Alternatively, you could simply mix half a cup of warm pineapple juice and a tablespoon of honey in a bowl, drinking the resultant solution when it is still slightly warm to soothe your throat and relieve your cough. Or why not follow this easy and tasty smoothie recipe, which gives you the various medicinal benefits of pineapple, lemon, ginger, cayenne pepper and turmeric?
But pineapple might not be the only effective remedy
While all of the above is encouraging for the credentials of pineapple for lessening the symptoms of cold and flu, we would urge you not to depend solely on pineapple as a treatment. For the soothing of a sore throat, for example, the NHS advises gargling with warm, salty water, as well as drinking plenty of water and eating other cool or soft foods.
Nonetheless, with pineapple also offering a wide range of other potential health benefits – including the improvement of digestion, enhanced protection against cardiovascular disease and better healing after injury – it’s unlikely to hurt if you were to take a little when you next come down with cold or flu symptoms.