Why Do Pineapples Tingle?

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Image Credit: Livescience.com

Elyssa Veluz, Staff Writer

Have you ever felt the sensation of pineapples burning your tongue? Unlike fruits such as melons and bananas, which are mildly acidic, pineapples are highly acidic. Pineapples are considered acidic because of their pH levels, which range from 3.20 – 4.00. The pH scale is used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. Less acidic foods have higher pH levels, while lower pH levels indicate that something is more acidic. 

Pineapples contain a mixture of two protein-digesting enzymes called bromelain, a protease, which is an enzyme that breaks down proteins. This is why when many people eat pineapples, they may feel a tingling sensation, or sometimes even a small burn on the tongue. 

Due to the function of bromelain, the statement “pineapples actually eat you” is factually correct.  However, this only occurs in your mouth, not in your stomach because when the pineapple is engulfed in your stomach acid, bromelain is destroyed. 

Pineapple lovers that hate the stinging sensation that fresh pineapples cause can eat canned pineapple, which won’t cause any tingling sensation at all — only the sweetness of pineapple can be tasted. This is because of the canning process, which begins by heating the pineapple causing the bromelain to break down. An alternate method to stop the tingling of pineapple on the tongue is to put salt on the fruit before eating it. Salt on bromelain gives the enzyme a different product to devour, which is the salt in this case. It also helps neutralize the pH level, which makes eating pineapples more enjoyable. 

Personally, I do not like the taste of canned pineapple as it can be overbearingly sweet. Nothing beats the taste of fresh pineapple, which is why I use the salt method.