Didn't think so. When European explorers discovered this tropical fruit, they called them pineapples because of their resemblance to the pine cone. Pineapples are indigenous to South America. They originate between Southern Brazil and Paraguay. The natives of southern Brazil and Paraguay spread the pineapple throughout South America, and where it eventually reached the Caribbean. Columbus discovered it in 1493 on the island of Guadalupe, and brought it back to Europe. The Spanish are also credited with introducing the fruit into the Philippines, Zimbabwe, Guam, and Hawaii in the early 19th century. The fruit was cultivated successfully in European hot-houses, beginning around 1720. The first commercial plantation in Hawaii started around 1886. Since pineapples are very perishable, and modes of transportation to bring them to America from the Caribbean Islands were slow centuries ago, fresh pineapples were a rarity that became coveted by the early American colonists. The pineapple actually became a symbol of prestige and social class.
John Kidwell is credited with the introduction of the pineapple industry in Hawaii. Large scale pineapple cultivation by U.S. companies began in the early 1900's on Hawaii. The most famous and influential pineapple industrialist was James Dole, who moved to Hawaii in 1899 and started a pineapple plantation in 1900. Since about 1999, the most common pineapple found in U.S. and European supermarkets, is a low-acid hybrid that was developed in Hawaii in the early 1970's. When creating it's fruit, the pineapple usually produces up to 200 flowers, once it flowers, the individual fruits of the flowers join together to create what is commonly referred to as a pineapple. A pineapple will never become any riper than it was the minute it was picked. FYI, fully ripe pineapple can bruise and rot quickly. A plant growth regulator Ethephon is typically sprayed onto the fruit one week before harvest, developing ethylene, which turns the fruit golden yellow. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture. If it is stored at room temperature, it should be used within two days, however, if it's refrigerated, about five to seven days in a good air tight container. The pineapple is grouped into four main classes with numerous varieties in each class. The variety cultivated on Hawaii is the smooth cayenne, which is found in supermarkets, in fresh, and canned form.
The smooth cayenne pineapple is by far the most popular of all the varieties due to its low fiber, rich taste, juiciness and low acidic content. It has a yellow interior and orange exterior and is largely used for canned pineapple.
Abacaxi is the Portuguese word for pineapple. The abacaxi, is the common variety of Brazil. The fruit varies widely in weight from 2.2 to 11 lbs ! The fruit is considered one of the more delicious varieties. It doesn't ship very well unfortunately.
The red Spanish pineapple is the most popular variety in the West Indies, primarily grown in Puerto Rico. It has a spiny, red-orange exterior, ranges from 3 to 6 lbs., with pale, yellow fruit.
The queen pineapple is cultivated in South Africa, Australia and the Philippines. It is a smaller, more compact variety which ranges in weight from 1 to 2 1/2 lbs. It is a cold, and disease-resistant variety with deep yellow flesh and a conical shape. The fruit is juicy, and fragrant with little fiber.
Health wise pineapple is an excellent source of manganese, which is an essential co-factor in a number of enzymes that are important in energy production. Pineapples are so popular for their ability to build and maintain strong bones. This is also because of the manganese, this is a trace mineral that your body needs to build bones and connective tissues. In fact, if you eat a cup of pineapple, that's 73% of your daily requirement for manganese. These fruits have also anti-inflammatory qualities, eating pineapples can greatly alleviate the pain of arthritis. While at the same time improve the condition by strengthening the bones. As for anti-oxidents, the key oxidative enzyme in pineapple is superoxide- dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy production factories within our cells. In addition to manganese, pineapple is a good source of thiamin, a B vitamin that acts as in energy production. Along with its many nutrients, pineapple also contains bromelain, an enzyme that digests protein. Derived from the fruit's stem and juice, this enzyme is used to treat an extensive array of medical conditions. Bromelain can reduce inflammation, swelling, bruising and pain associated with muscle, tendon, and skin injuries. Because it helps digest proteins, the enzyme can also be used to relieve digestive disorders, and heartburn. The Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of the pineapple day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). This is because this fruit contains beta carotene. That's good for our sight. AMRD is a dreadful disease where the patient slowly goes blind.
FYI, pineapples grown in Costa Rica, where pineapple production is highly industrialized, it is typical to use 20 kg. of pesticides per hectare in each growing cycle, a process that is suspected of affecting soil quality and biodiversity. The pesticides, organophosphates, organochlorines, and hormone disruptor's, have potential to affect worker's health, and can contaminate local drinking water supplies. Many of these chemicals have potential to be carcinogenic, and may be related to birth defects. So ask your produce guy where your pineapples come from.
Now, that great bromelain in pineapple could potentially interact with certain medications. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends consulting your physician before eating pineapple or taking bromelain supplements if you are currently taking antibiotics, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, blood thinners, insomnia drugs, and tricyclic antidepressants. Many women have a healthy, and trouble-free pregnancy, after eating pineapple, but this does not mean your body can take the bromelian. To be safe, consult your gynecologist for your safety, and the fetus.
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