By Hwaa Irfan
This refreshing fruit we all love is known by its botanical name i.e. ananas in many countries, but in Spain it is known as piña, nanas/nenas (Malay), Ope-Oyinbo/ Ehin-ahun (Nigeria), and nanasi (Swahili speaking East Africa). In 17th century Europe, the plant was grown in greenhouses by and for the elite, and would adorn their banquet tables.
Native to South America, there are 9 species of this herbaceous perennial, which all belong to the Bromeliaceae family of the plant kingdom. It was domesticated as a fruit and a food by the indigenous
Tupi-Guarani Indians and migrated with them to the Antilles, northern Andes and Central America.
The plant grows up to 4 feet high with a preference for well-drained soil on elevations. The leaves manifest as rosettes of long stiff, spines which grow in the first year. In the second year, the stem evolves into violet-red flowers that are tubular in shape and contain what is referred to as inferior ovaries. Each ovary becomes a seedless berry. Technically speaking is not a fruit but a collection of fused berries. The pollen is sticky and do not fare well from wind pollination, and so is dependent on creatures of the air, and man. One plant produces a single fruit. The crowning leaves are continued growth of the stem, and the plant continues to grow after fruiting via buds that grow into branches that on maturity in turn produce fruit.
Pineapples on the market are from the Ananas comosus variety, for the wild varieties are:
– A. comosus var.ananassoides
– A. comosus var. parguazensis
… in countries like Brazil, Paraguay, North Argentina and Venezuela. The main global exporters are Costa Rica, 322,000 tons; Ivory Coast, and the Philippines. Other exporting countries include Asia, China, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Thailand.
The commercial variety produced in the U.S., and Europe is a low-acid variety that was developed in Hawaii in the 1970s, and is not capable of self fertilizing. Once picked, the fruit does not mature any more.
The phytochemical properties include:
- 3-hydroxybenzoic acid
- 4-hydroxybenzoic acid
- Chlorogenic acid
- Ellagic acid
- Fcrulic acid
- Gentisic acid
- Hydroxybenzoic acid
- Isovanillic acid
- p-coumaric acid
- Protocatechuic acid
- Rutin Isoferulic acid
- Sinapic acid
- Syringic acid
- Vanillic acid
- Veratric acid
The distinctive pineapple aroma emanates from phytochemicals 2,5-dimethyl-4-hydroxy-3(2H)-furanone, methyl 2-methylbutanoate, ethyl 2-methylbutanoate, ethyl acetate, ethyl hexanoate, ethyl butanoate, ethyl 2-methylpropanoate, methyl hexanoate and methyl butanoate. Ananas comosus is rich in phenols like: ellagic acid, catechin, Vanillin, p-coumaric acid, isoquercetin, and others listed above. Phenols are rich in antioxidants, and anticarcinogens. Pineapples are the only source of the phytochemical bromelain, a cysteine. Bromelain from the stem of the plant has been used in medicine for the treatment of burns, and in vaccine formulations as well as a digestive. In the food industry, it has been used to tenderise meat. Bromelain extract has been used to improve digestion, sinusitis, to reduce swelling from an injury, and Type II diabetes.
Anticarcinogenic – Published in 2007, researchers found enzyme bromelain from pineapples to be superior in the treatment of cancer that the chemical compound drug 5-fluorauracil that has been used for over 40 years which also kills healthy cells and tissues.
In Siddha medicine pineapples are known to have a therapeutic value that is anthelmintic, aperients, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, styptic, and a vermicide.
In Ayurvedic medicine pineapples have been used to regulate glands, and have the therapeutic value as an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and as a stimulant.
- Omega 3-fatty acid
- Omega 6-fatty acid
- Pantothenic acid
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B₆
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K
Ananas comosus is not an allergen, but the unripe fruit is and can irritate the throat, cause burning sensation on lips and mouth and act as a serious purgative.
When bought the fruit lasts no longer that a couple of days if stored at room temperature, and up to a week if refrigerated.
Fruits should always be eaten as God intended to get the most benefit nutritionally speaking. Once cooked the precious plant enzymes like bromelain breaks down, which is useful if gelatin is present as bromelain raw breaks down the proteins in gelatin, thus preventing gelatin from thickening.
The indigenous Indians of the Caribbean island Guadaloupe used to use pineapple for healing wounds.
In Ghana a decoction from pineapple skins and water is used to treat jaundice, arthritis and to cure hay fever.
In Thailand an extract from the leaves is employed to expel worms, and in Ayurvedic medicine the plant is used in the treatment of amenorrhea, anorexia, colic, constipation, dysmenorrhea, fevers, general debility, jaundice, kidney stones, worm infestation, and peptic ulcer.
In balance He gave us everything we needed, but as for what we want!
Ji, S. “Research: Pineapple Enzyme Kills Cancer Without Killing You.”
“The Biology and Ecology of Pineapple.” http://www.ogtr.gov.au/internet/ogtr/publishing.nsf/content/pineapple-3/$FILE/pineapple.pdf