Why Does Pineapple Hurt Your Mouth & How To Help The Burn

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

Pineapple is one of the most flavorful fruits out there, but it comes with a nasty side effect that affects more people than not. That burning sensation can leave a mouth sore for a few hours to an entire night, wishing you never consumed it. Yet, you aren’t the only one dealing with the burning feeling from consuming pineapple.

Pineapple has a combination of enzymes called bromelains that break down protein, including your tongue, cheeks, and lips. Helping alleviate the bromelain can be done by cooking or heating the pineapple, eating it with dairy, or soaking it in salt water before consuming it. 

Pineapple is a popular fruit enjoyed on its own or made into drinks, baked into desserts, and sometimes topped on ice cream and yogurt. Yet it has this unique quality that makes it painful to eat; a quality people ignore to enjoy the flavorful fruit in all its renditions. The good news is you don’t have to endure the pain of consuming pineapple.

Is it Normal for Pineapple to Hurt Your Mouth?

Beautiful young woman eating pineapple

It’s extremely common for pineapple to hurt your tongue, cheeks, and lips after eating it. Pineapple is incredibly flavorful and one of the most intense fruits you can eat, so why does this happen? 

The burning sensation in your mouth occurs because of a combination of enzymes in pineapples called bromelain. Proteases, one of the enzymes in pineapple, break down any protein it comes in contact with and attacks your tongue, cheeks, and lips when you eat it. 

In particular, the bromelain attacks and kills the mucus that lines your mouth, and one of the major functions of mucus is to add a protective layer to those soft tissues. With that layer gone, your tongue, cheeks, and lips are then vulnerable to the burning sensation of pineapple. 

Pineapple is the only fruit with these particular enzymes, making it a unique issue when eating it. 

Thankfully, your mouth can quickly rebuild these attacked proteins and amino acids. Your body reproduces the required mucus and heals the minute damage caused by the bromelain enzymes.

So you might go to bed with a sore mouth but come morning, you should no longer be sore. 

Additionally, the irritation doesn’t reach your stomach because your saliva and stomach acids can overpower the enzymes. It’s why fruits like pineapple and lemons are good meat tenderizers, as they eat away the meat, including your mouth.

How Do You Get Rid of the Tingly Feeling After Eating Pineapple?

Pregnant woman eating pineapple

Love pineapple but hate that burn it gives you? You aren’t alone, and thankfully there are a few ways to counteract or dull the burning sensation before giving up on eating pineapple altogether.

Cooking the Pineapple

Grilling, roasting, or blanching pineapple can remove most of the enzymes and make it less potent, allowing that burning sensation to disappear or at least lessen its effects.

Even heating the fruit can help neutralize the enzymes and create a much sweeter fruit. 

There’s a reason why pineapple is such a popular addition to many baking recipes.

Pairing Pineapple with Dairy

Another trick to lessen the burn is to eat pineapple with something creamy from the dairy food category. Yogurt, ice cream, and creme fraiche taste amazing when paired with pineapple. 

Not only do they make a great flavor palette, but the dairy gives the bromelain enzymes a different protein to digest instead of your mouth. It also neutralizes the fruit’s pH level, removing that harsh acidity.

Soaking Pineapple in Salt Water

The last way to help with pineapple’s burning sensation is to soak the raw fruit in salt water before eating it. As seen on Netflix’s Ugly Delicious, soaking pineapple in salt water can render the bromelain ineffective in its mucus and meat-consuming tendencies. 

However, this method of neutralizing the bromelain is not scientifically proven, yet several chefs have sworn by its effective nature.

So, whether it’s the placebo effect or not, having a way to help stop that burning sensation while devouring your favorite fruit is a worthwhile venture.  

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