Imagine sitting outside and enjoying a fresh slice of pineapple when, suddenly, your mouth starts to burn. Believe it or not, this reaction is perfectly normal and doesn't necessarily indicate a pineapple allergy or intolerance. So what could be the cause?
Pineapple Allergy Symptoms
Fruit allergies are very common. Some fruits, such as apples, peaches and kiwis, are more likely to cause allergic reactions than others, points out the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. However, you may also experience adverse reactions to prunes, pineapples, oranges, melons or bananas.
Read more: Are There Bad Side Effects of Eating Pineapple?
These allergic reactions typically occur minutes after consuming the fruit and tend to affect the oral cavity, including your mouth, tongue, lips and throat. In rare cases, sufferers may experience mild skin reactions and asthma. Anaphylaxis, an extreme allergic reaction, may occur, too. Common symptoms of fruit allergies include:
- Swelling of the face, mouth, lips and tongue
- Breathing problems
- Wheezing and coughing
- Hoarse voice
- Persistent dizziness, especially in children
- Stomach pain
Fruit and vegetable allergies often develop in adolescence and persist into adulthood. The good news is that if you have a pineapple allergy, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll react to other fruits, too. However, you do need to avoid pineapple, whether fresh or canned.
Certain food products, such as fruitcake, canned fruit salad, fruit candies, cocktails, soft drinks and granola bars may contain pineapple and cause allergic reactions.
What About Pineapple Intolerance?
Do you experience bloating, stomach pain, heartburn or rashes after eating pineapple? These are all symptoms of food intolerance, according to the Healthy Eating Advisory Service.
Unlike food allergies, this condition isn't life-threatening and can be managed by practicing portion control. In general, its symptoms are dose-dependent. Some people experience adverse reactions to certain compounds in food, such as the salicylates in pineapple.
These substances occur naturally in brightly colored fruits, veggies, nuts, tomato products, honey and other foods. Almonds, pineapple, chili peppers, radishes, avocado, dates, cherries, oranges and all dried fruits are the highest in salicylates. Certain fruits, such as bananas, lime, white cabbage and poppy seeds contain negligible amounts of salicylates, making them safer for those who are sensitive to these compounds.
Salicylate sensitivity may explain why your tummy hurts after eating pineapple. Other common symptoms include vomiting, eczema, acid reflux, difficulty sleeping, diarrhea and hives. As mentioned earlier, allergic reactions kick in minutes after eating pineapple or other foods. Intolerance reactions, on the other hand, develop over several hours.
Why Pineapple Hurts Your Mouth
Contrary to popular belief, a pineapple allergy or intolerance won't leave your tongue and throat burning. The culprit is bromelain, a naturally occurring enzyme in this fruit, points out the University of Melbourne, but a bromelain allergy itself does not exist. That burning sensation goes away once you swallow the pineapple.
Truth be told, there's absolutely no reason to avoid pineapple unless you're allergic to it. Bromelain, its key compound, helps your body break down protein, fight inflammation and heal faster from wounds, trauma and surgery, according to a December 2012 review published in Biotechnology Research International. This enzyme may also protect against cancer and help relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis, angina pectoris, allergic airway disease, chronic inflammatory disorders and diarrhea.
In addition to bromelain, pineapple provides about 90 percent of the daily recommended vitamin C intake per serving (one cup). This fruit is also an excellent source of vitamin B6, beta-carotene, magnesium, potassium and manganese. It has only 83 calories and 21 grams of carbs, so it fits into most diets. Vitamin C, one of its most abundant nutrients, may actually aid in weight loss and prevent obesity, as noted in a May 2014 review featured in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology.
- Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources: "Allergenic Foods and Their Allergens, With Links to Informall"
- Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network: "Allergy - Fruit and Vegetable Allergy"
- Healthy Advisory Service: "Food Intolerance"
- St. Joseph's Health Care London: "Salicylate-Free Diet Food Guide"
- University of Melbourne: "The Flesh-Eating Pineapple"
- Biotechnology Research International: "Properties and Therapeutic Application of Bromelain: A Review"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Pineapple"
- Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology: "Vitamin C in the Treatment and/or Prevention of Obesity"