Pineapple is one of the most well-known tropical fruits, and it comes with many benefits. It aids in digestion, is full of essential nutrients, and can even reduce inflammation. But, if you’re someone who takes a single bite of pineapple and feels like your tongue is tingling for hours after, you’re not alone. It’s a real thing (and a real problem) called pineapple tongue.
Okay, the name isn’t very original. But, pineapple tongue is more than just an irritation or mild allergy to the fruit.
Rather, it’s likely an enzyme in the pineapple itself that causes irritation for some people.
That enzyme is called bromelain. Have you ever seen people use pineapple or its juice to tenderize different cuts of meat? Bromelain is the reason why it works so well. It naturally breaks down protein, which is great for tough cuts of steak, but not so great when it has the same effect on your tongue.
Your mouth/tongue has protein, too. When you take a bite of pineapple, the bromelain begins to “break down” those proteins, which can leave your tongue feeling like rough sandpaper for several hours after your tropical taste.
To make matters worse, pineapples are naturally acidic. The combination of the enzyme and acid are what makes “pineapple tongue” so noticeable—and annoying.
The good news? Pineapple tongue isn’t likely going to cause any serious damage. The tissue on your tongue and in your mouth should start to heal on its own quickly, so the tingling sensation typically goes away shortly.
You can also reduce the effects of pineapple tongue slightly by steering clear of the stem, since that’s where most of the bromelain resides. It can also help to soak the fruit in salt water (and rinse it before you eat!) or cook it before consuming. Those actions can reduce the potency of the enzyme and help you avoid the tingling sensation on your tongue.
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If you don’t want to do those things, consider having something on hand to fight back against pineapple’s acidity, like milk or yogurt.
Pineapple tongue won’t hurt you, but it’s not always fun to deal with when you’re just trying to enjoy a piece of tropical fruit. Keep these tips in mind to reduce its effects, and you can keep this healthy fruit as a staple in your diet.