8 Things You Didn’t Know About Pineapples
STORY: Diane Lam and Pearlyn Tham
28 January 2023
As ubiquitous as pineapples are this season, there's so much more to them than their auspiciousness (and deliciousness):
1. The pineapple’s name comes from….
European explorers, who’d never seen one before, and thought that it resembled a pinecone. (Christopher Columbus called the plant “pine of the Indians” when he brought it back to Spain from Central America.)
2. The Hokkien term for “pineapple” makes it sound lucky
Pineapple is pronounced “ong lai” in Hokkien, signaling the arrival of wealth.
3. It takes 3 years to grow a pineapple that’s ready to harvest
Pineapples are a slow-growing fruit. From cuttings, they can take more than two years to flower. And after that, you’ll need to wait another six months for fruit to mature. Growing them may be a long-term investment, but they’re relatively low-maintenance, as they don’t need much water or soil, and flourish under the full sun. Plus, they can grow in pots or tubs, so consider planting one to enjoy a bit of prosperity at home year-round.
4. Pineapples won’t ripen any further once they are harvested
This ain’t an avocado. Just make sure you consume the fruit within five days if refrigerated, and two if not, as pineapples are extremely perishable.
5. A single pineapple is made up of over 200 flowers
Nope, this isn’t something from a sci-fi movie. It’s a cluster of pineapple flowers, which fuse together to become the fruit we all know and love.
6. An enzyme in pineapples is used to treat arthritis
Pineapples may not be as sexy as superfood (or superfruit) like avocados and they may not bring on the queueing frenzy like durians can. But there’s a lot of good stuff lurking in the pineapple stem, fruit and even juice. And the good stuff has a name: bromelain, which has been used as a medical remedy for centuries in Central and South America. These days, bromelain is known for having pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits, which is why you’ll find it in supplements that are reported to treat arthritis. The same enzyme may also reduce the time needed to recover from surgery or strenuous exercise, since bromelain is believed to temper inflammation around damaged muscle tissue.
7. Pineapples can also be used to tenderise meat
Ever wonder why you often see pineapple slices atop legs of ham? Bromelain, the same ingredient thought to reduce inflammation, can also break down protein (which also explains why your mouth can feel a little torn up after eating them).
8. Pineapples are rich in Vitamin C
A cup of chopped pineapples provides 131% of the daily recommendation for Vitamin C. They’re also rich in flavonoids and phenolic acids, which may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
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