Need help digesting your food? These enzyme-rich foods may just do the trick.


Chances are, you’ve heard about enzymes, but do you know what they actually are?

Enzymes help catalyze biochemical processes in the body, ensuring that the breakdown or production of certain compounds is completed accurately and efficiently. Each enzyme serves a specific function and acts as an activator for very precise biological processes.

These processes include:

  • Absorption of nutrients
  • Removal of toxins
  • Energy production
  • Hormone regulation
  • Battling infection

Our bodies have the capacity to produce digestive enzymes that are vital for the breakdown of nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, and fats. However, foods can also be an excellent source of enzymes.

In fact, certain foods can boost the digestive process by helping with bloating and providing fundamental enzymes used in triggering your body’s metabolism.  Here are a few foods that are rich in digestive enzymes:

1. Avocado

Avocados contain lipase, a fat-digesting enzyme that is essential in the metabolism of fats. It helps break down larger fatty particles, such as triglycerides, into smaller fatty acid components.

Add a ¼ of an avocado to your smoothie or topping your salad with cubed pieces.

2. Papaya

Papain is an enzyme in papaya that works to break proteins into their most basic form so we can utilize them to aid in the healing and growth of our bodies. Need proof? Mash some fresh papaya and apply to your face. In minutes the enzyme will breakdown the dead surface skin and leave you with a fresh glow!

For a quick dose of enzymes, try this refreshing snack – squeeze lime juice over cubed papaya and enjoy with some raw walnuts.

3. Pineapple

Bromelain is a compound found in pineapple that is the source of many enzymes useful in protein digestion. Research has shown that bromelain contains anti-inflammatory properties as well.

Add ½ cup of pineapple to your green smoothie to mask the strong flavor of cruciferous greens such as kale. A pineapple is ripe when the bottom yields to some pressure and is very fragrant.  This fruit is also wonderful for its ability to add freshness to savory dishes.  

4. Sauerkraut

Fermented vegetables are an excellent source of enzymes and living probiotics to help boost your gut health. When purchasing, look for sauerkraut made with water and salt, not vinegar.  This will ensure that the cabbage has been fermented and not pickled.

Eat alone or enjoy as a side dish to promote healthy digestion.

Adapted from the original article.

Jeanne Petrucci, MS, RDN is the founder of Living Plate, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to inspiring wellness through nutrition education that incorporates food experience.  Jeanne develops evidence-based nutrition programming and meal planning tools to help organizations and other dietitians encourage behavior change in their communities.  Learn more at Living Plate.

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