Have you heard a lot of old wives’ tales about things to avoid during pregnancy? Are you wondering if you should stay away from pineapple now because you’ve heard it might be bad for you?
One of the weirdest things about pregnancy is how quickly you discover a thousand new facts and myths you didn’t even think of before getting pregnant.
My new favorite tale is that some people think pineapple is bad for pregnant women. That had not even crossed my mind until I read it.
So what’s the deal with pineapple? Can we safely eat it, or should we cross it off our grocery list?
Is Pineapple Dangerous During Pregnancy?
Pineapple is entirely safe to eat during pregnancy. The old wives’ tale says it’s dangerous because it can cause a miscarriage, but actually, there is no scientific evidence at all to suggest this.
That is not to say there aren’t some risks involved, especially when eating a lot of pineapples. Some people experience severe ulcers and heartburn from fresh pineapple, which means you might want to swap it for canned pineapple in juice.
And lots of pineapple, like with any fruit, can cause diarrhea and gastric discomfort.
Eating a lot of pineapple can make heartburn and acid reflux worse so be cautious if you are already suffering from that during your pregnancy.
Editor's Note:Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD
But if you’re just eating a little bit of fresh or canned pineapple? Then there’s no problem at all.
What About When I’m Breastfeeding?
Of course, our needs, and our babies’ needs change from pregnancy to breastfeeding. So what about after birth, is pineapple any good then? Well, it turns out that pineapple might be worse for a nursing baby than for a pregnant woman.
Because of its high vitamin C content, and the other acids it contains, fresh pineapple can cause a rash for breastfed babies. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, oranges, or grapefruits, can also do this.
A small amount of fruit every day is not a problem for you or for your baby. But try to keep highly acidic fruits to a bare minimum, especially when you are first breastfeeding.
If you notice that your baby has a rash, don’t assume this is just because of the fruit. Go to your doctor to talk about your diet and breastfeeding habits to make sure.
But as long as you are still pregnant, don’t worry about eating pineapple. If anything, make sure to eat some because it is great for you (2).
Some benefits to pineapple, in limited amounts, include helping the breastfeeding mother with breast engorgement since it has anti-inflammatory properties that can ease pain and swelling.
Editor's Note:Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD
Benefits Of Pineapple
Pineapple is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water, all of which are wonderful for pregnant women (3):
- Vitamins B1 and B6, like all B vitamins, are essential for building our nervous system and maintaining our blood flow. This keeps our heart strong, helps our immune system protect us even during pregnancy, balances our moods, and eases morning sickness.
- Vitamin C is important for immunity too, as well as for strengthening the collagen which forms your and your baby’s skin, joints, and bones. One cup of pineapple has almost all the vitamin C you need in one day.
- Manganese, a key player in preventing osteoporosis, can be found in large quantities in pineapple.
- Iron and folic acid are highly recommended supplements during pregnancy, as having enough can prevent birth defects, as well as protects you against anemia. Fresh pineapple is rich in both of these nutrients.
- Copper, also essential for producing red blood cells, is found in small but noticeable amounts in pineapple.
- Fiber is present in very large quantities in both fresh and canned pineapple, helping prevent constipation and dehydration.
- Water and diuretics are both present in fresh and canned pineapple, helping you to rehydrate when dehydrated, but also helping you get rid of excess fluid in your legs and feet.
- Blood pressure issues can sometimes be eased by an enzyme called bromelain, which thins your blood and can lower your blood pressure.
Where Does The Myth Come From?
The theory comes from the fact that pineapple contains bromelain. Yes, that same enzyme that thins our blood.
Bromelain acts by digesting protein, which is why your mouth can get sore if you overeat pineapple. Some people are so sensitive to it that they literally cannot eat a mouthful of pineapple.
So what does this have to do with pregnancy? Well, it’s been found that bromelain supplements can cause early labor or miscarriage, precisely because of their ability to thin the blood and digest proteins. This action ripens the cervix, which can make it open before the time is right.
However, like with all things, the supplement bromelain and the bromelain in pineapples are quite different things. Concentrated bromelain pills are many times stronger, and the bromelain in pineapple is actually found in the core of the pineapple, not in the edible flesh. Pineapples themselves have never been found to cause early labor or miscarriage.
Will Pineapple Help Me Start Labor?
It could, but you would really need to eat loads to manage this.
Test-tube experiments have found the amount of bromelain found in concentrated pineapple extract can stimulate the cervix, making you more likely to enter labor. Plus, many supplements with bromelain are forbidden during pregnancy, precisely for that reason.
So what is the unsafe amount of pineapple we would have to eat to equal a medically dangerous serving? One cup? One ring?
Nope. Up to eight whole, fresh, raw pineapples. Per day.
I’m not sure about you, but when I eat pineapple, I don’t usually eat a whole one, let alone up to eight whole fresh pineapples. The amount of bromelain found in a normal serving of pineapple, which is about a cupful, is nowhere near enough to start labor.
And if you are eating eight whole pineapples, you have other issues to worry about. For example, serious diarrhea and increased urination, which could cause uncomfortable cramping and dehydration. Neither are healthy when we are pregnant.
If you are still worried about eating pineapples because of bromelain you can stick to pineapple juice or canned pineapples since the processing of these removes almost all of the bromelain.
Could I Have A Pineapple Allergy?
Yes, pineapple allergies do happen. Because you can develop a spontaneous allergy during pregnancy, you might even develop an allergy to pineapple. This is more of a risk if you are already allergic to latex or pollen.
A pineapple allergy is most likely to appear at first with one of the following symptoms:
- A skin rash, even if the rash isn’t where you touched the pineapple.
- Swelling and itching in your mouth and throat.
- A runny nose or congestion.
If you suffer any of these symptoms, especially if they start soon after eating pineapple and develop quickly, contact your closest emergency room. An allergic reaction can very quickly get out of control and you want to make sure that you are safe.
And what about the other risks? As mentioned above, there are some risks you need to be aware of:
Fresh pineapple can cause heartburn and reflux in many people, as well as mouth ulcers. This is because of the high amount of vitamin C and other acids, as well as some active enzymes, which can eat away at the protective layers in your mouth and stomach.
A Reason to Cut Back
If you have diabetes, whether it is type 1, type 2, gestational, or because of pancreatitis, then pineapple might have too much sugar for you.
Like with all fruits and sugary foods, limit your consumption and only eat them after a healthy, balanced meal, to slow down the release of sugars. If you are already overweight, you might also want to avoid pineapple just because of its high-calorie content.
Fruit such as grapefruits and berries have many vitamins and minerals while having much lower sugar and calorie content.
Because bromelain can thin your blood, if you suffer from low blood pressure, anemia, or hemophilia, then you should not consume pineapple when pregnant.
Some pregnant women experience a sudden drop in blood pressure or sudden anemia, so if you are feeling faint, especially when you first stand up, you want to avoid pineapple until you can talk to a doctor.
If you are taking any medications such as antibiotics for any reason, pineapple juice can have an effect on the medications you are taking. Make sure to let your doctor know about your diet before you start taking any medications
Editor's Note:Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD
In Conclusion: Pineapple Is Fine, Seriously
This is one of those old wives’ tales that is a total mystery to me how it caught on so fast. We have been eating pineapples for centuries without a problem. They’re literally just fruit.
As long as we don’t eat eight a day, we’re safe.