When it comes to acid reflux and heartburn, pineapple is one of the most contradictory foods.
It is very acidic, therefore some doctors recommend steering clear of it. However, it also contains bromelain, an enzyme that promotes healthy digestion and therefore might help to prevent reflux.
Let’s see why pineapple is good for the body and how it can cause or prevent acid reflux:
Benefits and risks of eating pineapple
Pineapple contains many healthy ingredients:
- vitamin C – good for the heart and joint health
- manganese – makes stronger bones, prevents bone loss
- dietary fiber – keeps your gut health
- antioxidants – great for heart problems, stabilizing glucose levels, anti-inflammatory
- bromelain – promotes healthy digestion, anti-inflammatory
However, eating too many pineapples can upset the stomach and trigger various symptoms:
- Too much vitamin C can trigger diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, heartburn, and other symptoms.
- Unripe pineapple is poisonous, it can irritate the throat and cause diarrhea.
- Too much bromelain can also cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, tongue irritation, and a burning sensation in the stomach or chest.
While it’s unlikely to eat too much pineapple fruit, if you are drinking pineapple juice or taking bromelain pills, you should watch out for the dosages.
Some people can also be allergic to pineapples, which might trigger symptoms. (see below)
Are pineapples acidic or alkaline?
Pineapples are highly acidic, its pH is between 3.2 and 4. However, the pH of stomach acids is between 1.5 and 3.5, compared to that, pineapple is not that acidic.
Furthermore, when talking about the acidity of certain foods, potential renal acid load (PRAL) is more relevant than the pH.
Is pineapple acidic in the stomach?
The PRAL score of food shows how much acid is produced in the stomach during the digestion process. The more positive the value, the more acidic the food is in the stomach. Negative values indicate alkalizing foods.
The PRAL score of pineapple is around -2.3 (pdf), which means the highly acidic pineapple becomes slightly alkalizing in the stomach.
Why does your chest hurt when you eat pineapple?
Several people experience chest pain after eating pineapples. Many think it is heartburn, caused by acid reflux. However, there are some other possible causes:
- Acid reflux: Reflux triggered heartburn is a possible reason for experiencing chest discomfort after eating pineapples or drinking pineapple juice.
- Esophageal ulcer: The highly acidic pineapple might irritate an esophageal ulcer, and it might cause a burning pain around the middle of the chest.
- Allergic reaction: While chest pain is not a typical allergic reaction, food allergy can cause swelling in various parts of the body, which might sometimes trigger chest pain.
- Drug interaction: Pineapple might interfere with certain drugs, especially with antibiotics, like amoxicillin. Both stomach cramps and chest pain are known side effects of amoxicillin.
- Eating too much: Too much food or drink can cause both acid reflux and pain in the digestive tract, which might trigger chest pain.
- Too much sugar: Raw pineapple contains around 10g sugar per 100g, its juice can contain even more. Too much sugar can trigger all kinds of problems in the body, chest pain after eating sugary foods is one of them.
- Too much vitamin C: Pineapple is rich in vitamin C, which is great for your health. However, too much of it might trigger heartburn.
Is pineapple good for acid reflux?
Some people say pineapple is bad for acid reflux because it is highly acidic. Others are sure that pineapple is great against acid reflux because of its bromelain content, which is anti-inflammatory and promotes digestion.
It is true, that many people experience heartburn and acid reflux after eating acidic food, however, acid shouldn’t cause any symptoms as long as it stays in the stomach. Heartburn happens when stomach acids can flow back into the esophagus.
This acidic flow back is allowed by a relaxed LES (lower esophageal sphincter), which is a muscle between the stomach and the food pipe. When this muscle is tight, nothing from the stomach can back up into the esophagus.
Coffee, alcohol, chocolate, fatty foods are all known to have a relaxing effect on the LES, however acidic foods don’t seem to have such an effect.
This means that pineapple probably doesn’t trigger acid reflux, however, it can aggravate the symptoms during an acid reflux episode that is triggered by some other food.
People suffering from acid reflux or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, the chronic form of reflux, more than two episodes per week) might try small amounts of pineapple or pineapple juice to see if it causes symptoms.
Is pineapple juice good for acid reflux?
Drinking too much pineapple juice might trigger acid reflux and other symptoms, like diarrhea, nausea, or irritation.
Pineapple juice contains a lot of sugar, vitamin C, and bromelain. While moderate consumption of these ingredients is unlikely to trigger symptoms, it is easy to consume more than the body can handle when drinking pineapple juice.
Mixing pineapple juice with alcohol can make things worse, as alcohol is a common heartburn trigger.
Does pineapple cause heartburn?
As discussed above, pineapple probably doesn’t trigger heartburn, but might make symptoms worse.
Another reason for heartburn-like symptoms after eating pineapple is a damaged esophagus, which is common among long-time acid reflux sufferers. In this case, the damaged esophageal mucosa is exposed to the acids in pineapple, which might cause irritation and chest pain.
Is pineapple good for indigestion?
Yes, the bromelain and fiber in pineapple can help with indigestion:
- Bromelain: This enzyme breaks down proteins, so it helps to digest high-protein foods, like hard-to-digest meat or other fatty foods.
- Fiber: A cup of raw pineapples covers about 6-11% of the recommended daily fiber intake. Dietary fiber promotes healthy digestion and prevents constipation.
- Acids: Several people have low stomach acid levels (called hypochlorhydria). Indigestion and constipation are common symptoms of this condition. Pineapple might help to boost digestion.
Doctors often recommend natural enzyme supplements like papaya or pineapple extracts to help digestive issues.
Why does pineapple burn your tongue?
The cause of such a tingling sensation is usually the bromelain content of pineapple.
This protein-digesting enzyme might interact with the protective mucous on the tongue and lips, which gives this weird feeling.
Other possible causes of tongue irritation after eating pineapples:
- Silent reflux: when stomach acids travel all the way up to the throat and mouth, they might cause irritation.
- Allergy: albeit pineapple allergy is rare, swelling and itchy feeling around the lips, mouth, or tongue are common allergy reactions.
- Acids: if the protective lining of the tongue is damaged, the acids in the pineapple might cause irritation.
Can pineapple cause stomach pain?
Pineapple in moderate amounts shouldn’t cause any problem for a healthy stomach. However, in some cases people do experience stomach problems after consuming pineapple:
- Those with active stomach ulcers might experience symptoms, as the acids in pineapple might irritate the ulcer. This study lists pineapple under the “Use with caution” category for people with peptic ulcers.
- Pineapple is rich in vitamin C. Too much vitamin C is known to cause nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, or heartburn.
- Too much bromelain can also cause stomach problems, like diarrhea, vomiting. This is more of a concern when taking bromelain pills, as the fruit itself doesn’t contain enough bromelain to trigger this problem.
- Pineapple might interact with certain drugs, e.g. amoxicillin or tetracycline antibiotics, and stomach problems might be a possible side effect of drug interactions.
- Unripe pineapple is toxic and might cause vomiting.
- Last but not least, stomach pain is a possible symptom of pineapple allergy.
What causes sore throat after eating pineapple?
The most likely cause of sore throat after eating pineapple is silent reflux.
Silent reflux happens when stomach acids not only enter the food pipe but go all the way up to the throat, causing irritating the back of the throat.
Other typical symptoms are:
- lump in throat
- sour taste in the mouth
- phlegm in throat
A few small sips of water might relieve the symptoms.
Sore throat after pineapples can also be an allergic reaction or it can be the bromelain content:
The mucous in our mouths, which protects the lining on our palate, tongue, and cheeks, has some keratin in it, and bromelain may actually start to dissolve it. The second important factor is pineapple’s acidity, which is around 3.2-3.5 on the pH scale. When the bromelain compromises our protective oral mucous layer, the acidity of the pineapple becomes extra irritating.(source)
Albeit allergies to foods like milk, soy, or nuts are more common, some people can be allergic to pineapples. Such fruit allergies are quite rare, however, the risk is higher if a close relative is also allergic to pineapples.
Allergic symptoms can be triggered by eating or even touching pineapple. Sometimes symptoms occur right after getting in contact with the fruit, sometimes it might take a few hours to experience problems.
- runny nose, itchy eyes, hives
- swelling – usually the face, lips, tongue, or throat
- vomiting, diarrhea
- stomach cramps
The most severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, which requires immediate medical help!
If you are allergic to pineapples, you might be allergic to certain other fruits. Visit an allergist and get yourself tested if you think you have a pineapple allergy.
Pineapples in moderate amounts can be a part of a healthy diet and should be safe for most healthy people.
Its bromelain content helps to digest proteins, therefore pineapples can be great for the gut.
However, those who have active ulcers or are prone to acid reflux should limit their consumption. Pineapple is highly acidic and might trigger symptoms like chest or stomach pain in these cases.
It is especially easy to consume too much pineapple when drinking pineapple juice. Taking too many bromelain pills might also trigger symptoms.
Frequently asked questions
No. Even though pineapples contain a lot of vitamin C and might taste a bit like citrus fruits, pineapple is not a citrus fruit.
Yes, it can, just like orange juice. Actually, it is more likely to get heartburn from the juice than the raw fruit.
This is because the juice contains more sugar, more acids, and less fiber.
For some people it might, the high acidity can cause problems.
However, others might find pineapple soothes their indigestion. The bromelain content helps digestion.
Those who suffer from indigestion because of low stomach acid levels might find that pineapples relieve their symptoms.