As fine as a pineapple | Daily News


 

As fine as a pineapple

In November of 1493, Christopher Columbus, returned to the Caribbean region on his second voyage. Here he entered a part of the land that was mysterious, where he discovered wooden pillars carved with serpents. However Christopher Columbus and his crew discovered to their delight, amidst the dense foliage, piles of freshly gathered vegetables and strange fruits. They had discovered the Pineapple fruit which the European sailors ate, enjoyed and wrote about. Green Thumbs speaks to Institute of Indigenous Medicine, Department of Dravyaguna Vignana, Senior Lecturer, Dr. S.D. Hapuarachchi, a fruit with a rich history, both delicious and nutritious.

Hapuarachchi in her research on this incredible fruit has ascertained that the sea captains of New England traded among the Caribbean Islands, returning to the colonies bearing their heavy cargoes of spices, rum, and a selection of fruits, which sometimes included pineapples. According to the legend, the captain would drop anchor in the harbor. He would then head home, stopping outside his house to spear a pineapple on a fence post. This would let his friends know of his safe return from sea. The pineapple was an invitation for them to visit, share his food and drink, and listen to exciting tales of his voyage. Here in front of the fire, they might have shared tales about mermaids and sea monsters. Here there was fearsome pleasure in these chilling tales!

Pineapples are also considered an expression of welcome, and symbolizes assets we appreciate in our home – friendship, hospitality and warmth. In addition to being a delicious fruit, it is a refreshing cocktail. The rise of the pineapple as a symbol of hospitality in Colonial times no doubt came about because of its rarity.

“When Columbus discovered the Pineapple, he may not have realized then how the fruit would grow in popularity and would one day be enjoyed all over the world. When he returned to Europe and introduced the sweet pineapple, it was an instant hit in the royal court, but it took almost two hundred years before gardeners were able to perfect a hothouse method for growing a tropical pineapple plant. Even in the late 17th century, the pineapple remained so uncommon and coveted that King Charles II of England posed for an official portrait - receiving a pineapple as a gift,” said Hapuarachchi.

Pineapples come originally from South America, most probably from the region between South Brazil and Paraguay. From here, pineapples quickly spread around the continent up to Mexico and the West Indies, where Columbus found them when visiting Guadeloupe in 1493. The Brazilians spread this delicious fruit through South America and it then reached the Caribbean. There are more than 37 types of pineapples grown across the world, each with its own unique set of characteristics.

“Sri Lanka boasts three varieties of pineapple: the stout, red-striped leaf and very sweet Mauritius which is the most prolific, the log conical and smooth Cayenne, and the Singapore Spanish, whose green leaves have a reddish strip near the margins. Surprisingly, Sri Lanka also has a native species of pineapple, the Wal (wild) Annasi. In fact, there are hundreds of varieties of pineapples around the world. Pineapple grows in warm and humid climate. It is ideally grown at low elevations in areas with a temperature range of 15 to 30ºC. It is tolerant to drought because of the special water storage cells. However, high temperature over 35ºC is unfavorable for the development of fruits. Around 90 percent of pineapple is cultivated in Gampaha and Kurunegala districts providing a livelihood to a large number of people,” pointed out Hapuarachchi.

Pineapples are loaded with nutrients and contain disease fighting anti-oxidants. Its enzymes can ease digestion, it may help reduce the risk of cancer, it may boost immunity and suppress inflammation, it may ease symptoms of arthritis and it may speed recovery after surgery. In addition to this and despite their sweetness, pineapples are low in calories. Pineapples contain high amounts of vitamin C and manganese. They are also a good way to get important dietary fiber. Pineapples also contain high amounts of thiamin, a B vitamin that is involved in energy production. One cup of raw pineapple chunks contains 2.6 mg of manganese, a mineral that’s important for developing strong bones and connective tissue. Pineapples can help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a disease that affects the eyes as people age, due in part to its high amount of vitamin C and the antioxidants it contains. Pineapples are also fat-free, cholesterol-free and low in sodium. Not surprisingly, they do contain sugar, with about 14 grams per cup. Bromelain could also be helpful in treating osteoarthritis.

In fact special mention must be made about this enzyme Bromelain which is wonder enzyme. Most of the health benefits of Pineapple can be attributed to this enzyme which figures prominently in how to prevent and cure a condition.

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NUTRITION FACTS OF PINEAPPLES

Serving size: 1 cup chunks (165 g)

Amount per serving:

Calories 74

Total Fat 0 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Sodium 2 mg

Potassium 206 mg

Total Carbohydrate 19.5 g

Sugars 13.7 g

Protein 1g

Vitamin C 28 mg

Calcium 21 mg

One cup (5.8 ounces or 165 grams) of pineapple chunks contains the following

Calories: 82.5

Fat: 1.7 grams

Protein: 1 gram

Carbs: 21.6 grams

Fiber: 2.3 grams

Vitamin C: 131% of the RDI

Manganese: 76% of the RDI

Vitamin B6: 9% of the RDI

Copper: 9% of the RDI

Thiamin: 9% of the RDI

Folate: 7% of the RDI

Potassium: 5% of the RDI

Magnesium: 5% of the RDI

Niacin: 4% of the RDI

Pantothenic acid: 4% of the RDI

Riboflavin: 3% of the RDI

Iron: 3% of the RDI

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HEALTH BENEFITS OF PINEAPPLES

Loaded With Nutrients - Pineapples are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals. They are especially rich in vitamin C and manganese.

Contains Disease - Fighting Antioxidants - They are also loaded with healthy antioxidants.

Antioxidants are molecules that help your body combat oxidative stress which is a state in which there are too many free radicals in the body. These free radicals interact with the body’s cells and cause damage that is linked to chronic inflammation, a weakened immune system and many harmful diseases. Antioxidants, may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

* Its Enzymes can ease digestion - Pineapples contain Bromelain, a group of digestive enzymes that breaks down proteins. This may aid digestion, especially in those with pancreatic insufficiency.

* May Help Reduce the Risk of Cancer

Cancer is a chronic disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth. Its progression is commonly linked to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Several studies have shown that pineapple and its compounds may reduce the risk of cancers. This is because they may minimize oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. Test-tube studies have shown that Bromelain may also help fight cancer

* May Boost Immunity and Suppress Inflammation - Pineapples have anti-inflammatory properties that may boost the immune system.

* May Ease Symptoms of Arthritis - The anti-inflammatory properties of pineapple may provide short-term symptom relief for people with common types of arthritis. Bromelain has the potential to relieve arthritis symptoms, especially in the short term

* May Speed Recovery after Surgery or Strenuous Exercise - Eating pineapples may reduce the time it takes to recover from surgery or exercise. This is largely due to the anti-inflammatory properties of Bromelain. One study showed that those who consumed Bromelain before a dental surgery had significantly reduced pain and felt happier than people who did not. Bromelain is believed to speed up the recovery of damage caused by strenuous exercise by reducing inflammation around the damaged muscle tissue.

* Delicious and Easy to Add to the Diet

Pineapples are sweet, convenient and easy to incorporate into your diet. You can enjoy them on their own or in smoothies, salads or on homemade pizzas.

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WORDS OF CAUTION WHEN CONSUMING PINEAPPLE

“Because pineapple is a great meat tenderizer, eating too much can result in tenderness of the mouth, including the lips, tongue and cheeks. It should resolve itself within a few hours. But if the feeling persists, or if you experience a rash or breathing difficulties, you should seek medical help immediately, as you could have a pineapple allergy.

Because of the high amount of vitamin C that pineapples contain, consuming large quantities may induce diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or heartburn. Extremely high amounts of Bromelain can cause skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive menstrual bleeding, Bromelain can also interact with some medications. Eating unripe pineapple or drinking unripe pineapple juice is dangerous. Unripe pineapple is toxic to humans and can lead to severe diarrhea and vomiting,” said Hapuarachchi.


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