A Fruit for All Reasons – The Pineapple
The pineapple: Is it an apple? Is it a pine?
Well, what’s in a name? The pineapple by any other name would taste just as sweet and be just as healthy. Also called “The Princess of Fruits”, this exotic (and prickly) fruit, once known to be the fruit of the rich and influential, is best consumed fresh, cooked, juiced or preserved and finds a place in many cuisines around the world, being frequently used in desserts, salads, toppings and many other dishes as well!
Brief History and Origin of the Pineapple:
Native to South America, Ananas Comosus, and (scientific name for the pineapple) is said to have originated in Brazil, from where it eventually spread to Paraguay, The Caribbean Islands, Central America and Mexico, where the Mayas and Aztecs are believed to have cultivated this fruit. It was Christopher Columbus, who, in 1493, first imported this fruit to Europe, and the Europeans cultivated it in hot houses. Because of its rarity and difficulty in growing, the pineapple was restricted to members of European royal families, the rich, noble and the elite. It was James Dole who made this fruit affordable and popular with the common folk with his vast pineapple plantations in Hawaii.
In Other Words—-
The pineapple is known to the world by different names, although the word ‘Ananas’ is the most widely used name for the pineapple in the world, with 42 languages in the world calling it by this name. Pineapple is the next most popular name for this fruit (10 languages use this name) and this word was first used to describe the pineapple in the year 1398. Listed below are some of the names this exotic fruit is identified by:
Greek/ Portugese/ Slovak Ananaa
Indonesia/ Malaysia Nanas
Turkish/ Spanish Ananas
Pineapple Nutrition Facts:
In order to stay healthy, we have to eat fresh fruits and vegetables which provide our body with various vitamins and minerals. Pineapples are flush with these important properties and if eaten regularly, ensures good health and keeps many diseases away.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Data Base, the nutrient values per 100 gm serving of pineapple are displayed in the table below:
|Total Fat||0.12 g|
|Dietary Fiber||1.4 g|
|Vitamin A||58 IU|
|Vitamin C||47.8 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.02 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.07 µg|
|Crypto-xanthin- β||9 mcg|
Health Benefits of Pineapple:
Flush with nutrients the pineapple is an excellent source of essential vitamins, minerals and other properties that makes the pineapple “a fruit for all reasons”.
The Protein Enemy – Bromelain:
Found mainly in the core and the stem of the pineapple, Bromrlain is a mixture of enzymes that have the ability to digest proteins, and was first discovered in the late 1800’s. Bromelain is effective in the treatment of a number of conditions, some of which are listed below:
- It helps to neutralize the fluids in the cells, ensuring that they are not too acidic.
- Aids in digestion by helping to regulate the secretions in the pancreas. Aids in digestion of the protein particles present in food.
- Its anti Inflammatory, anti- clotting properties helps boost your immune system.
- Studies have shown that eating pineapple regularly helps in combating arthritis, indigestion and is a natural detoxification agent.
- According to a cancer update from John’s Hopkins, the walls of the cancer cells have a tough protein covering. The enzyme Bromelian attacks the protein walls of the cancer cells, allowing the body’s white blood cells to destroy the cancer cells. Dr. Mercola, in his research paper, in the ‘Planta Medica’ journal, goes on to add that Bromelain is a safe and sure way to fight cancer cells, and that “Bromelain in the pineapple kills cancer cells without harming you”. This property of Bromelain was even superior to that of the conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy, which destroys healthy cells throughout the body along with the cancer cells, a side effect which more often than not becomes the cause of death of the patient.
Other health benefits of this amazing fruit are:
1. Pineapple is the Fat Fighter: Pineapples are low in calories and sodium and do not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol. This fruit is also a rich source of dietary fiber. This makes the pineapple the ideal fat fighter.
2. Pineapple Benefits to Boost Immunity: A rich source of the anti oxidants, Vitamin C, , Vitamin A and Beta Carotene, this fruit aids in boosting our immune system by fighting the viruses that cause cough and cold.
3. The sailors’ Aid: Vitamin C present in the fruit helps keep scurvy at bay. Along with tomatoes and lemons, the pineapple was also part of the cargo carried on board ships, to prevent sailors from falling prey to this deadly condition.
4. Aids in Collagen Synthesis: Eating pineapples, an excellent source of Vitamin C, helps to synthesize collagen, the main protein found in our body, which is responsible for giving shape to our blood vessels, skin, organs and bones.
5. Eye Care: The Vitamin A and Beta Carotene is good for our eyesight and also protects our system from harmful free radicals.
6. Energy Booster: High levels of manganese act as energy boosters and also protect our cells from harmful free radicals.
7. Pineapples Strengthen Bones: The nutrient Thiamin and biotin helps in strengthening our bones, and its anti inflammatory properties help to alleviate the pain of arthritis.
8. Pineapple keeps Blood Pressure under control: Potassium present in the pineapple assists in regulating the flow of blood to the heart and keeps blood pressure under control.
9. Pineapple for Gum Health: Eating pineapples ensures healthy gums and healthy gums ensure healthy and strong teeth!
Did you ever wonder why the roof of your mouth becomes itchy after eating a lot of pineapple? Well, the reason lies in the enzyme, Bromelain, which breaks down protein and is used as a natural meat tenderizer. Our poor tongue is subject to the same degradation as the meat that comes in contact with this enzyme. But there is no cause for worry as the tongue has the capacity to regenerate the cells lining the tongue within a couple of days after it gets metabolized in the body without any permanent damage.
How to avoid this itchy sensation?
Cut the fruit the night before, which might help get rid of the irritation. Better option is to remove the core, which contains most of the enzyme, or have a glass of pineapple juice instead!
The Pineapple-A Symbol of Hospitality:
Besides its many uses, the pineapple has been used as a symbol of hospitality and warmth and represents friendship since the days of the early American colonies. This legend has continued to the present and even today we can see the pineapple symbol on the columns of houses and buildings, and the image of the pineapple in hotels and restaurants.
- To the Caribbean’s, the pineapple has been the symbol of hospitality.
- The Spaniards used to place a pineapple at the entrance to a village as a sign of welcome.
- In colonial North America, the shapes of pineapple were carved into the columns at the entrance of a plantation.
- Sea faring captains impaled fresh pineapples on their porch railings of their houses to indicate they were home and receiving visitors.
- The pineapple held the pride of place in the centre of the table at festive meal times during the early colonial days In the United States of America. This was a symbol of welcome and hospitality for the visitors, with the fruit being served as a special dessert after the meal. Visitors spending the night were given bedrooms that had pineapples carved on the headboard.
Did you know that—?
- Thailand is the largest producer of pineapples in the world.
- A pineapple is a berry, and strictly speaking, it is not a fruit. It is in fact 100-200 fruitlets fused together!
- The Caribbeans first named the fruit “anana”, where “a” means “fruit” and “nana” means “excellent”.
- The word “pineapple” was first used in 1938 and is derived from the Spanish word “pina” which means “pine cone”.
- Christopher Columbus first introduced the pineapple to the European world.
- A pineapple plant produces just one pineapple in one year!
- Pineapples and tomatoes were carried by sailors on their voyages to ward off scurvy. That is why these two fruits spread so widely and quickly around the world.
- Unripe pineapples don’t just taste horrible, but can be poisonous as well and can cause severe throat infection. It also has a strong laxative effect.
- To ripen up a pineapple faster, stand it up on its leafy end!
- In the pineapple industry, no part of the pineapple is wasted. The skin, core and other remaining parts are used in making alcohol, vinegar and animal feed.
- Pineapple or pineapple juice is an effective meat tenderizer, as the Bromelain enzyme in the pineapple breaks down proteins.
- The peel and juice of pineapples are said to remove warts.
- Eating a pineapple is said to trigger labor pains during pregnancy.
- In the famous children’s show, ”SpongeBob Square pants”, shown on the TV channel Nickelodeon, SpongeBob lives in a pineapple at the bottom of the ocean.
Enjoy your Pineapple:
- The best way to enjoy this fruit is by making a refreshing juice of fresh pineapples.
- Pineapples chunks are used in fruit salads and toppings, with cheese being its most favored comrade!
- Pineapple jams and jellies are delicious complements to your morning toast.
- The Pineapple upside down cake is another delicacy famous the world over.
The goodness of the pineapple, coupled with its easy availability and versatility makes this fruit a great contender for the most popular fruit in the world. So, go ahead and include this fruit in your diet for a healthier lifestyle.