Pineapple

Pineapple- Botanical name: Ananas comosus

In many languages including Hindi the pineapple is known by Tupian term ananas.  They have varying names in the languages of India: “Anaasa” in Telugu, annachi pazham Tamil, anarosh Bengali, and in Malayalam, kaitha chakka. In Spain and most Hispanic countries, it is piña “pine cone”; while in Argentina it is called ananá. In Malaya it is ‘nanas’ or ‘nenas’ and in Maladives it is alanaasi. The pineapple grown especially in Brazil is called abacaxi. It is a common edible plant native to Brazil and Paraguay.

It was in 1398 that the world first heard of a pineapple, but it was not the pineapple we know today. It referred to the reproductive parts of the conifer trees. The name pineapple as is known today (the fruit) was first used or recorded in 1664 due to its resemblance to the pine cones and gradually the reproductive parts of the pine was termed as a pine cone in 1694.

Columbus and his men came across the fruit pineapple at Guadeloupe, during their second trip to the Carribean region in 1493.It was only during his last trip, the fourth in series in 1502 that he brought with him the fruit purchased from the native traders of the Honduras. During the next two centuries many attempts were made to cultivate the pineapple .The pineapple was a rare commodity even during the 1600s that there is an official portrait of King Charles the II receiving a pine apple as a gift from John Rose his head gardener.  The successful cultivation of the fruit in Europe was only in the beginning of 1720 as it required tropical conditions for growth. The Spanish introduced the fruit to Philippines, Hawaii, Zimbabwe and Gaum in the early 19th century.

Pineapple is a good source of manganese, vitamin C, vitaminB1, vitaminB2, vitaminB3, calcium, carbohydrates,fibre, iron, magnesium, protein, phosphorous, zinc and proteolytic enzyme bromelain.

The pineapple is known for a number of benefits.

  • It is known for alleviating intestinal disorders.
  • Some believe it to be a pain reliever.
  • Helps to induce child birth when the baby is over due.
  • Prevents nausea. It is very helpful during morning sickness and motion sickness.
  • Relieves coughs or colds (catarrh) just like an orange, but helps to get rid of it completely due its bromelain content.
  • Provides relief to arthritis.
  • Strengthens bones.
  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Protects the eyes against macular degeneration.

A word of caution for those suffering from hemophilia, kidney, liver problems and protein deficiency, as the bromelain it contains could prove harmful. The pineapple is a member of the bromelaid family and it is extremely rare that bromelaids produce edible fruit. It is the only available edible bromelaid.

This enzyme breaks down protein and is therefore used to tenderize meat, but it can interfere in the preparation of jellies or other gelatin based desserts. However the bromelain breaks down in cooking or the canning process and so canned pineapples may be used for this purpose.

In order to derive the best from a pineapple, it is better to consume it fresh.

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