Bromelain Enzymes: Sportspeople & fitness buffs take note.

The Big Pineapple


I drew an imaginary double underline on the word ‘Bromelain’ when I stumbled upon reading about it from Michael Van Straten’s Superfeast’s superfoods list. The hardcover book flushed rich in colors of nature; fruits, vegetables and nuts, decorating every page opaquely in the background behind bold typeface matching every type flora photograph to its definition in title. Bromelain was discussed on Van Straten’s page featuring the pineapple, stated as a type of enzyme that acts as an anti-inflamattory and aids in muscle repair that is found in pineapples (meat). He also said that boxing trainers in 1900s were reputedly known to feed their boxers pineapples in between fights to minimize bruising (really?). I threw a look at my leg bruises from pole sporting and bought a pineapple not long after. I knew I had to do further reading before appraising its superpowers, but that didn’t happen until two weeks later. I figured if I were going to continue with the pineapple eating, I should at least confirm its bromelain sources. I am one of those difficult individuals who will not settle for gullibility on unsupported information. Thanks to my philosophical professor back in university who won every battle argument on the accuracy of his students’ writings, I picked up some of his trait along the way.



Google and Wikipedia I went, and this is what I found:


  • Bromelain is a protease enzyme (protein digesting enzymes) present in any plant member of the Bromeliaceae family, which parents the pineapple species. The bioactive ingredient was first isolated in 1891 by a Venezuelan chemist, and introduced as a therapeutic supplement in 1957. Medicinal uses include treating inflammation (as a large variety of proteins involved in inflammation are prone to genetic mutation that impairs the normal function and expression of that protein. Inflammation examples: asthma, transplant rejection, arthritis, etc.), sport injuries, reduction of blood clots in the bloodstream (thins the blood here) and other kinds of swelling. Particularly useful in post-surgery healing.
  • Now this is where it gets interesting. Bromelain is present the whole of pineapple, but much  more so in the STEM rather than the FRUIT berry of pineapple. By how much exactly, I don’t know; but the impression I’m getting is that the amount of bromelain contained in the fruit is insignificantly little in comparison to its higher-concentrated counter part, the stem. Bromelain is prepared after fruit harvesting whereby the stem is peeled, crushed, and pressed to get the juice containing bromelain, followed by purification and concentration processes. The stem isn’t much of a palatable delicacy and I would guess it can turn the texture of your tongue into something else undesirable when tried to be eaten. The best way to consume it is through supplemental pills. Most vitamin shops should carry them.


Tip: take them on an empty stomach or in-between meals if you are after its medicinal uses; otherwise they will be used for digestion instead (you can use do so if you wish). You can also use them topically on open wounds to speed healing. On my achey days, I take them the morning I wake up and allow one hour to pass before eating my first meal. 


There’s bromelain for you. If the story holds true (Van Straten did get the core information wrong after all), what wasteful efforts boxing trainers went through in the 1900s, but I suppose there is some benefiting from the psychological placebo effects that the boxers truly believed that those super pineapples they chump by the chunks are making their way on a healing quest. 


– Dom




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