It is common knowledge that people digest food to get energy. At first glance, this seems to be a one-way process. Curiously enough, there are also some fruits which can have a destructive effect on the tissues of our body. Of course, they cannot digest us the way that we can digest them. But to a certain extent, they can break down the cells of our mucosa.
The secret of pineapples
We all know the burning sensation in the mouth after we eat pineapples. It is hard to get rid of it, even by drinking water or rinsing our mouths. Sometimes, the slight pain can last all day, and our taste perceptions become noticeably worse. Why does this happen?
Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain, which breaks down protein. Bromelain is actually a mixture of two enzymes and several other substances in smaller quantities. Its ability to break down protein is used in cooking, to make meat more tender. (However, only fresh pineapples can be used for this purpose, as the enzymes are destroyed in the cooking process).
The Enzyme Bromelain
Bromelain is a protein-digesting enzyme extract found in the fruit and stem of the pineapple plant, ‘Ananas Comosus’. It is used as a form of dietary supplement due to its active ingredients proteinases and proteases. These enzymes work to break down proteins in the body. Pineapples are packed with Bromelain, though particularly in the stem and skin. Bromelain is known for its ability to break down protein chains. This gives it a culinary use as a tenderizer to soften up tough cuts of meat. In fact, it’s such a great tenderizer that when using pineapple juice as a marinade, you only have to actually marinate for a short time. Marinate too long and the meat will literally fall apart.
This enzyme is also why pineapple won’t form into jam and jelly when gelatin is used, as the enzyme breaks down the gelatin. However, you can add agar-agar to neutralize this reaction. In fact, this enzyme is so strong that pineapple processors have to wear gloves and masks since the juice will eventually eat away at the hands and face. When cutting up lots of pineapples, it isn’t uncommon to come away with dry, flaky skin or even small sores.
Top 5 Health Benefits Of Bromelain
1. Effective in Treating Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis, which causes joints to become painful and stiff. Bromelain has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce tissue swelling associated with osteoarthritis, and also has pain-relieving properties helpful in the elimination of joint pain. A study has shown that taking two 650mg tablets, 3 times a day, can reduce acute pain by up to 60%.
2. Useful in Cardiovascular Disease
Taking bromelain supplements may be useful to treat a range of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Bromelain prevents platelets in the blood from aggregating together which leads to a reduction of blood clot formation. This can improve blood flow, without blockages, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Beneficial for Digestion
Escherichia coli and vibrio cholera are bacterias found in the intestine which can negatively affect digestion. Bromelain works to reduce the effects of these bacteria, improving digestion, along with its inflammation-reducing qualities which relieve stomach inflammation. It also effectively digests protein, making it easier for the body to absorb nutrients efficiently.
4. Improves Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis
Bromelain releases inflammation-fighting compounds into the immune system. These work to alleviate nasal swelling and congestion, thus reducing the symptoms of chronic sinusitis by improving breath flow and quality.
5. Helps Ease Effects of Asthma
Studies have shown that bromelain may inhibit asthma-related airway inflammation. It also reduces allergic sensitisation which is the cause of allergic inflammation. This helps ease a hyperactive immune system and helps target the underlying causes of asthma. Studies have suggested that the intake of bromelain has a therapeutic effect, reducing asthma-related symptoms such as runny nose, congestion and itchy eyes.