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Breathe Easy with Bromelain

Research suggests that the pineapple enzyme bromelain appeared to reduce inflammation associated with asthma. Though bromelain is sold in supplement form, our lab tests revealed that fresh and frozen pineapple has as high — and in many cases higher — enzymatic activity compared to pills, which also cannot provide the synergistic interactions with other whole food nutrients that can be lost in isolation.

For example, pineapple is an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C, which also may help asthmatics. Researchers found that asthma sufferers had lower serum levels of vitamin C and beta-cryptoxanthin. With its high water and fiber content, pineapple might play a role in helping you manage your weight — another important factor in fighting asthma. In one three-year French study of 67,229 women, those who had gained more than 20 pounds between puberty and adulthood had 66 percent higher risk of the chronic breathing disorder.

Researchers speculate that the inflammatory effect of higher levels of estrogen and leptin associated with excess weight might interfere with the functioning of muscle cells lining the lungs and air passages. Double whammy: Asthma induced by weight problems makes it even more difficult to draw the oxygen you need to carry that extra heft around.

BONUS: To enjoy the possible benefits of bromelain, beta-cryptoxanthin and vitamin C, try this super easy smoothie. Blend some fresh or frozen pineapple chunks, with ice, soy milk, protein powder and a dash of pumpkin pie spice to treat taste buds (and soothe lungs).

Published September 1, 2013

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