The incredible pineapple

TheIncrediblePineappleA recent post described how yellow fruits and vegetables are some of your gut’s most valuable friends.  Then I ran across a history of the pineapple and discovered that the greatest value of this food lies in its digestive power. Primitives knew this centuries or more ago. Now we know more about the secret of this power.

And that is that pineapple juice resembles natural human gastric juices more than any other food. No wonder your tummy likes it.

Pineapple, we realize, is neither a  pine nor an apple. What most of us don’t know is that it is not even a fruit. It is a sorosis, a multiple group of berries grown together into a pulpy mass from a spike of blossoms. It was first found by Europeans growing in a wild state along the sandy shores of tropical South America and the West Indies, where it was an important medicinal plant for the Indians.

Its fermented juice was made into an alcoholic drink for fevers and to relieve body heat in hot weather. Externally, pineapple was used for dissolving painful corns and to cure skin ailments. The Indians cooked their meat overlaid with pineapple, which had a a tenderizing effect. That was the culinary forerunner of southern ham, decorated with pineapple slices.

It is not known how far back in antiquity the incredible pineapple was valued as a food and medicine, but ancient paintings of the powerful plant have been found in strange, faraway places, even though pineapples resisted transplantation to other continents for centuries in more modern times. They did not grow from seeds, but only from slips that did not survive the long sea voyages of bygone sailing vessels.

However, finally the screw-propeller driven steamboat shortened the shipping time, and the first West Indian pineapples were introduced into tropical Africa and reached the Malay Peninsula from there.

The pineapple was not introduced to Hawaii until 1899—where it found ideal climatic conditions. Today Hawaii produces the lion’s share of the world’s pineapples, though it is grown in many tropical areas around the world. The fine, strong and flexible fiber of the pineapple leaves is used in Brazil, Malaya and the Philippines in the manufacture of a native textile, which is a delicate and soft cloth from which luxurious scarves and other fashion accessories are made.

And now it is known that the pineapple is not only a fine digestive food, but is full of vitamin C, B6, thiamin, copper, manganese and numerous trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals, including the much studied enzyme bromelain, which combats inflammation in the body.

Not only that, but it is very low in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat, which makes it a favorite for dieters—and is deliciously sweet and filling. The kids love it, so give them pineapple instead of candy bars and cookies.

And no reason to worry about pesticides—pineapple’s tough skin protects it–and you–from pesticide penetration.

Sources: Folklore and Odysseys of Food and Medicinal Plants (book), Wikipedia

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