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If you’ve been trying to conceive (TTC) or you’re facing infertility issues, then chances are you’ve already come across articles on fertility blogs or social media posts featuring pineapples…
Even the New York Times featured an article on “How the Pineapple Became the Icon of IVF.”
But if you’re like us, you might be wondering…
Can pineapples really enhance your fertility?
Let’s take a look at why this fruit has become such a powerful symbol of fertility and whether or not it possesses any special properties for enhancing your reproductive health.
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll discover:
Well here are some fun facts to give you a little context…
The pineapple is a cluster of berries that have grown together to form one larger fruit.
Its name was attributed to the likeness of the pinecone and was said to have first been described by South American and Caribbean explorers in the 15th century.
The fruit was considered a noble gift in Europe during the 18th century due to the effort and care which was required to cultivate it outside its native environment.
And even though it was once a rare and exotic fruit, the pineapple has grown to become a common produce staple enjoyed in many forms — from pineapple juice to pre-cut pineapple slices in fruit cups and parfaits.
Regardless of whether you enjoy the taste or not, the pineapple has transcended its place in the produce aisle and become a popular symbol for infertility and the IVF journey. Pictures of pineapples often adorn shirts, socks, and jewelry worn by women as they present to their fertility clinic for various fertility treatments.
One reason for the popularity of the symbol is reportedly due to the similarities of the physical attributes of the pineapple to those of parents going through infertility. They are strong on the outside and sweet on the inside.
For many women experiencing infertility, the saying “stand tall, wear a crown, and be sweet on the inside” is a mantra of those who push forward despite the obstacles with hopes of the ultimate end result —a healthy baby.
On the nutrition science side of things, some say this fruit has been designated the symbol of infertility because it contains a group of enzymes known as bromelain.
These enzymes are reported by some to have fertility-boosting properties such as the ability to reduce inflammation and aid in thinning the blood.
It’s important to note that the highest concentration of bromelain is located in the core of the fruit. Therefore, the core is the preferred portion to consume compared to other areas such as the whole pineapple fruit or the juice.
Additionally, the people who subscribe to eating pineapple cores say that doing so the day before and after implantation can be beneficial to the process. But the question remains…
Is it really that helpful for fertility?
Let’s dive in and investigate!
We should probably come right out and say that there are no formal studies confirming the benefits of pineapples on conception. Or as an aid to embryo transfers or in-vitro fertilization outcomes for that matter.
As Dr. Tomer Singer, a reproductive endocrinologist at Shady Grove Fertility reported to The New York Times in a 2019 article said, “There’s no evidence in the literature that says consuming pineapple prior to an embryo transfer will improve implantation” (1).
With that said, anti-inflammatory studies have been conducted on both rat and human cells showing that there might be potential for decreased inflammation with bromelain (2-3). Unfortunately, results from clinical tests on actual human subjects have not been performed, so no major endorsements can be made at this time.
Studies on bromelain as an anticoagulant (i.e., blood thinner) show that the enzymes inhibit the synthesis of fibrin (4), a protein responsible for blood clotting…. based on this mechanism of action, some people claim that bromelain may ultimately increase blood flow to the uterus.
Thus, the theory goes that eating the core of a pineapple, where bromelain content is highest, may have a beneficial effect on the uterine lining around the time of implantation following ovulation or after an embryo transfer. Unfortunately, none of these effects – including improving embryo implantation – have been noted in clinical studies at this time.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence endorsing pineapples as a fertility superfood, they are safe to consume when trying to conceive. Just remember, if you’re wanting to increase your bromelain intake, you must consume the core of a pineapple instead of the whole fruit or juice.
Speaking of the best form to eat… One question we get asked from time to time is whether canned pineapples are just as good as fresh ones. Aside from the bisphenol-A (BPA) probably lining the can (which we know can hinder your fertility efforts), the canning process destroys the bromelain enzymes. So, fresh pineapple is best!
And another word of caution… We don’t recommend eating pineapple cores for the very first time on the day you’re undergoing infertility treatments or a procedure… Why? Well, because you don’t want to make an already somewhat stressful situation worse with an upset stomach from the increased fiber, sugar, and acid within the pineapple (5).
Instead, try sampling it several times beforehand and in various forms such as a purée (on top of your favorite dessert or cereal) or as a smoothie like the one described below to see what you tolerate the best. Digestive issues, most commonly an upset stomach and diarrhea, may cause more harm than good during an already stressful time between your fertility treatments, appointments, and pending pregnancy test results.
Digestive issues aside, there are some who will also caution you to eat pineapples only after ovulation. The thought here is that too much pineapple before ovulating might increase the acidity of your cervical mucus, making it inhospitable for sperm… this again has not been confirmed by scientific evidence, therefore our stance is eat it when you feel like it.
Finally, while increased pineapple intake is relatively safe, it has been noted to impact some medications including anticoagulants. So as you’ve heard us say before, make sure to speak with your medical provider or fertility dietitian about the potential impact of targeted dietary changes.
¼ ripe frozen banana, peeled
1 cup frozen or fresh pineapple
1 cup fresh spinach
1/4 cup cashews
1 tablespoon maca powder
1 cup of coconut water
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Mix all ingredients in a blender or smoothie maker until smooth. Pour into your favorite BPA-free container and enjoy!
Looking for additional smoothie recipes when trying to get pregnant? Take our fertility-boosting smoothie quiz and get your personalized recipe TODAY!
While the studies on the benefits of pineapple cores and fertility are insufficient and currently leave us without a definite answer as to if you should or should not consume this tropical fruit for your fertility if you enjoy it—go for it!
There are numerous benefits to eating fresh fruits as part of your fertility diet including pro-fertility vitamins and antioxidants like vitamin C and selenium. So when there’s so much to analyze (and overthink) on your fertility journey, please continue to enjoy any and all fruits that your heart desires – including pineapples!
Lorenz, T. (2019, October 2). How the Pineapple Became the Icon of I.V.F. The New York Times.https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/02/style/pineapple-in-vitro-fertilization-pregnancy.html.
Secor ER, Carson WF, et al. Bromelain exerts anti-inflammatory effects in an ovalbumin-induced murine model of allergic airway disease. Cell Immunol. 2005 Sep;237(1):68-75.
Reop BO, Van den Engel NK, et al. Modulation of autoimmunity to beta-cell antigens by proteases. Diabetologia. 2002 May;45(5):686-92.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Bromelain. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/bromelain.
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