Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Healthy Fruit: Pineapple

Pineapple (Ananas comosus) is the common name for a tropical plant and its edible fruit which are coalesced berries. Pineapples are the only bromeliad fruit in widespread cultivation. It can be grown as an ornamental, especially from the leafy tops. Some sources say that the plant will flower after about 24 months & produce a fruit during the following six months while others indicate a 20-month timetable.
Pineapple is eaten fresh or canned or juiced. It is popularly used in desserts, salads, as a complement to meat dishes and in fruit cocktail. The popularity of the pineapple is due to its sweet-sour taste containing 15% sugar and malic and citric fruit acids. It is also high in vitamin B1, B2, B6 and C. Its protein-digesting enzyme bromelain seems to help digestion at the end of a high protein meal. In the Philippines, pineapple leaves are used as the source of a textile fiber called pina.
The word pineapple in English was first recorded in 1398, when it was originally used to describe the reproductive organs of conifer trees (now termed pine cones). The term pine cone for the reproductive organ of conifer trees was first recorded in 1694. When European explorers discovered this tropical fruit, they called them pineapples (term first recorded in that sense in 1664 because of their resemblance to what is now known as the pine cone).
In the scientific binomial Ananas comosus, ananas, the original name of the fruit, comes from the Tupi (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) word nanas, meaning "excellent fruit", as recorded by Andre Thevet in 1555, and comosus, "tufted", refers to the stem of the fruit. Other members of the Ananas genus are often called pine as well by laymen.
Many languages use the Tupian term ananas. In Spanish, pineapples are called pina "pine cone" in Spain and most Hispanic American countries, or anana (ananas in Argentina). They have varying names in the languages of India: "Anaasa" (in telugu, annachi pazham (Tamil), anarosh (Bengali), and in Malayalam, kaitha chakka. In Malay, pineapples are known as "nanas" or "nenas". In the Maldivian language of Dhivehi, pineapples are known as alanaasi. A large, sweet pineapple grown especially in Brazil is called abacaxi.
The pineapple is a herbaceous short-lived perennial plant which grows to 1.0 to 1.5 metres (3.3 to 4.9 ft) tall. The plant only produces one fruit and then dies. Commercially suckers that appear around the base are cultivated. It has 30 or more long, narrow, fleshy, trough-shaped leaves with sharp spines along the margins that are 30 to 100 centimetres (1.0 to 3.3 ft) long, surrounding a thick stem. In the first year of growth the axis lengthens and thickens, bearing numerous leaves in close spirals. After 12 to 20 months the stem grows into a spike-like inflorescence up to 15 cm long with over 100 spirally arranged, trimerous flowers, each subtended by a bract. Flower colours vary, depending on variety, from lavender, through light purple to red.
The ovaries develop into berries which coalesce into a large, compact, multiple accessory fruit. The fruit of a pineapple is arranged in two interlocking helices, eight in one direction, thirteen in the other, each being a Fibonacci number. Pineapple carries out CAM photosynthesis, fixing carbon dioxide at night and storing it as the acid malate and then releasing it during the day, aiding photosynthesis.

Pineapple contains a proteolytic enzyme bromelain, which breaks down protein. Pineapple juice can thus be used as a marinade and tenderizer for meat. The enzymes in raw pineapples can interfere with the preparation of some foods, such as jelly or other gelatin-based desserts, but it breaks down during cooking and the canning process. Though some have claimed pineapple should not be consumed by people with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome or kidney or liver disease, the quantity of bromelain in the fruit is probably not medically significant, being mostly in the inedible stalk.

Some buyers prefer green fruit, others ripened or off-green. A plant growth regulator Ethephon is typically sprayed onto the fruit one week before harvest, developing ethylene, which turns the fruit golden yellow. After cleaning and slicing they are typically canned in sugar syrup with added preservative. For home use, green pineapples will ripen naturally at room temperature, though they can quickly over ripen.
Pineapple is a good source of manganese (91% DV in a 1 cup serving), and also contains significant amounts of vitamin C (94% DV in a 1 cup serving) and vitamin B1 (8% DV in a 1 cup serving).
Pineapple, raw : Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 202 kJ (48 kcal) | Carbohydrates 12.63 g
Sugars 9.26 g | Dietary fiber 1.4 g
Fat 0.12 g | Protein 0.54 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.079 mg (6%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.031 mg (2%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.489 mg (3%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.205 mg (4%)
Vitamin B6 0.110 mg (8%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 15 μg (4%)
Vitamin C 36.2 mg (60%)
Calcium 13 mg (1%) | Iron 0.28 mg (2%)
Magnesium 12 mg (3%) | Phosphorus 8 mg (1%)
Potassium 115 mg (2%) | Zinc 0.10 mg (1%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

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