Proteases. Heat. Stomach acids. And why pineapples burn our tongues (and when they don’t).
The pineapple is such a tease.
It tingles our tongues when we first chomp into it. Feels great. But munch on it for too long and our tongues start to feel a burning red hot sensation. Why is that so? Fruit acids, you might say?
Nope! It’s bromelain. Pineapples contain bromelain (according to the University of Melbourne, pineapples are the only known natural source of bromelain). Bromelain is made of two enzymes that digest proteins. These protein-digesting enzymes are known as proteases.
When we eat pineapples, these proteases begin to tease and nibble away at the proteins in our tongues! The longer we lick and munch on our pineapples, the more the proteases nibble. And very soon, our tongues start to hurt.
In many ways then, just as how pineapple juice is sometimes used in recipes to tenderize meat (read all about it in the 1-Minute NomNom “Love meat tender, love meat sweet“), the pineapple is tenderizing our tongues!
One way to avoid this is simply to enjoy our pineapples quickly. The enzymes stop working after we have swallowed the pineapples because our stomach acids destroy the bromelain. As for our tongue that is red hot, the cells in the tongue are renewed, repairing the damage that has been inflicted. But that takes a bit of time.
Canned and cooked pineapples do not nibble away at us in the same way. This is because the bromelain has been been destroyed by high heat. Such proteins are called heat-labile proteins.
How can we prevent the burning of our tongues from eating pineapples? And what remedies do you have if we do have a burning tongue? Share them with us in the comments below!
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photos: in order – istockphoto/meteo021; depositphotos/Rodrusoleg; aremafoto; bberry