Pineapples have exceptional qualities as a vibrant tropical fruit with balanced sweetness and tartness. Most people are unaware that pineapples are simple a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. How long does it take a pineapple to grow? Can pineapple induce abortion or prevent cancer? Here are just a few of many facts you probably don't know about pineapples.
1) They All Start Off As a Flower
The pineapple is part of the bromeliad tropical plant family. Interestingly, it is the only available member of this family which is edible. The ovaries develop into berries which coalesce into a large, compact, multiple accessory fruit. Contrary to popular belief, they do not grow on trees! The exotic fruit actually comes from a flowering plant and they all start like this...
2) What's In The Word
The word "pineapple" in English was first recorded in 1398, when it was originally used to describe 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 in the Americas, they called them "pineapples" (first so referenced in 1664 due to resemblance to what is now known as the pine cone).
3) Pineapples Can Take Up to 2.5 years to grow
Pineapples are also harvested by hand. The first crop, called a "plant crop," takes 18-20 months to be ready for harvest. Fruiting can take six months after flowering is complete. The next crop, called the "first ratoon," takes another 15 months. For the harvest, workers walk through the pineapple rows, dressed in thick gloves and clothing to protect them from the spiky bromeliad leaves.
4) Sacred Geometry
The fruit of a pineapple is arranged in two interlocking helices, eight in one direction, thirteen in the other, each being a Fibonacci number It is well-known that a real pineapple exhibits consecutive Fibonacci numbers, such as 5-8-13 or 8-13-21. Fibonacci numbers often occur in nature, and the numbers of spirals in pineapples are commonly quoted examples. The scales are patterned into spirals of hexagonal shapes of which three are distinct sets of spirals. One set of 5 spirals ascends at an angle to the right, a second set of 8 spirals rises steeply to the left and the third set of 13 spirals rises very steeply to the right.
5) Worldwide Pineapple Production
Most people think that the world's pineapples come from Hawaii and Thailand, but Brazil is the leader in production with the Philippines not far beyond. Both of these leading producers of pineapples shell out over two kilotonnes per year. Hawaii is the only producing state in the U.S.
6) Both Root and Fruit Are Medicinal
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.
7) Excellent Source of Trace Minerals and Enzymes
Pineapple is an excellent source the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), requires manganese. In addition to manganese, pineapple is a good source of thiamin, a B vitamin that acts as a cofactor in enzymatic reactions central to energy production.
8) Bromelain is King
Bromelain purified from pineapple stem or fresh juice, then provided in the diet over six months, decreases the severity of colonic inflammation. It has potential against cancer mechanisms, as laboratory research showed that it causes autophagy in mammary carcinoma cells. Bromelain has been found to reduce the excretion of proinflammatory cytokines, as well as chemokines in a study into its possible mechanism of action in ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn's disease.
Works Better Than Cough Syrup
Drinking pineapple juice helps soothe a sore throat and aids the body to expel mucous easily. Thick and stubborn mucus in your lungs or sinuses can cause seemingly endless spasms of coughing, sneezing and painful infections. In a study published in "Der Pharma Chemica" in 2010, researchers attempted to find beneficial treatments for patients who have tuberculosis, an infectious disease often caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. As part of their studies, they discovered that a mixture of raw pineapple juice, pepper, salt and honey given to patients every day helped to dissolve the mucus in the lungs.
In a subsequent study, research found that raw extracts from pineapple could decrease mucus five times faster than over-the-counter cough syrups. Patients recovered 4.8 times faster and exhibited a decrease in all symptoms related to coughing, especially hacking.
Natasha Longo has a master's degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.