Scientifically known as “Ananas comosus” and belonging to the family of Bromeliaceae, of the genus; Ananas, “Pineapples” are a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves and fibrous yellow flesh. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and ,therefore, a sweeter taste and more tender texture.
The flesh and juice of pineapples are used in cuisines around the world. In many tropical countries, pineapple is prepared, and sold on roadsides as a snack. They are sold whole, or in halves with a stick inserted. Whole, cored slices with a cherry in the middle are a common garnish on hams in the West. Chunks of pineapple are not only used in desserts such as fruit salad, but also as a main ingredient in savory dishes, such in hamburgers, and as a pizza topping. Crushed pineapple is used in yogurt, jam, sweets, and ice cream. The juice of the pineapple is served as a beverage, and is also as a main ingredient in cocktails.
In commercial farming, flowering can be induced artificially, and the early harvesting of the main fruit can encourage the development of a second crop of smaller fruits. Once removed during cleaning, the top of the pineapple can be planted in soil and a new plant will grow. Slips and suckers are planted commercially.
Both the root and fruit may be eaten or applied topically as an anti-inflammatory or as a proteolytic agent. In some practices, it may be used to induce abortion or menstruation or as an antihelminthic agent.
The pineapple tree is actually native to Paraguay in South America and spread by the local Indians up through South and Central America to the West Indies. Later, it was brought to Spain when Columbus discovered Americas’ in 1493.
Bromelain purified from pineapple stem or fresh juice, then provided in the diet over six months, decreased the severity of colonic inflammation in mice with experimental colitis
In Brazil, it is considered a staple food with the tribal people. The leaf of some types of pineapple is used to make embroidery thread. The fruit and juice also help to relieve constipation, as they have high fiber content.
Raw pineapple is an excellent source of manganese (76% Daily Value (DV) in a one US cup serving) and vitamin C (131% DV per cup serving). Raw pineapple juice may be used as a meat marinade and tenderizer.
- Pineapple is low in calories (provides only 50 cal per 100 g).
- It is rich source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber like pectin and has no saturated fats or cholesterol.
- Pineapple fruit contains a proteolytic enzyme bromelain that digests food by breaking down protein. It helps the body digest proteins more efficiently.
- Bromelain also has anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting and anti-cancer properties.
- Fresh ananas is an excellent source vitamin C of antioxidant vitamin.
- It also contains good amount Vitamin A (provides 58 IU per 100 g) and beta-carotene levels. These compounds are also known to have antioxidant properties.
- This fruit is rich in B-complex group of vitamins like folates, thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin.
- Pineapple is also rich in minerals like copper, manganese and potassium.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF PINEAPPLE
- Pineapple is valuable for easing indigestion, arthritis or sinusitis.
- Pineapple is also known to discourage blood clot development.
- Pineapple is high in manganese, a mineral that is critical to development of strong bones and connective tissue. It is particularly helpful to older adults, whose bones tend to become brittle with age.
- Bromelain is also considered an effective anti-inflammatory. Regular ingestion of cup of fresh pineapple daily is purported to relieve painful joints common to osteoarthritis. It produces mild pain relief.
- In Germany, bromelain is approved as a post-injury medication because it is thought to reduce inflammation and swelling.
- Fresh pineapple is not only high in this vitamin C, but because of the bromelain, it has the ability to reduce mucus in the throat and good for the treatment of cough.
- Fresh pineapple juice is also good for a healthier mouth. It discourages plaque growth.
- It helps get rid of intestinal worms.
- Studies have shown that consumption of pineapple regularly helps fight against arthritis, indigestion and worm infestation.
- Vitamin A is also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes, skin and essential for vision. Studies have suggested that consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps body to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- It is required for the collagen synthesis in the body. [Collagen is the main structural protein in the body required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body protect from scurvy; develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity) and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.]
- In addition, Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is helpful co-factor for red blood cell synthesis. Manganese is a co-factor for the enzyme super-oxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger.
- Pineapple is an effective diuretic, and it has been known to be used as a contraceptive as well.
- The ripe fruit is used to reduce excessive gastric acids in the body and reduce gas.
- When sour and unripe, it is also beneficial, as it then aids digestion, relieves dyspepsia and helps to increase appetite.
- It can fight off viruses that cause cough and colds. These fruits have bromelain, which is effective in suppressing coughs and loosening mucus.
- Pineapples are known to prevent different kinds of ailments. This is because this fruit contains beta carotene that is good for our sense of sight.
- It can also improve conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and gout.
- An excessive consumption of pineapple may erode tooth enamel, due to the high sugar/fructose content, so it is always advisable to brush your teeth well after consuming this fruit.
- The unripe juice should not be given to pregnant women, as it has been known to induce uterine contractions.
- Don’t use the mixture if redness bumps or swelling occur. Don’t apply pineapple to burns, broken skin or rashes.
Drink pineapple juice as frequently as possible or eat pineapple everyday. It is as good for health as much for skin. It helps with heart and kidney problems, has protein digesting enzyme. It has proved beneficial for women suffering from irregular and painful periods and is an effective remedy for sore throats and colds.