Papaya is a flavorful and colorful tropical fruit that looks like an overgrown pear. Papaya hails from Central and South America but today is grown in other countries with tropical climates around the world. But are they good for you? Let´s embark on a journey to discover the health benefits of papaya.
History and Background
Papaya´s official name is Carica Papaya and comes from the Carica family of 22 species. Papaya contains many nutrients such as:
- enzymes (papain)
- phytochemicals (carotenoids)
- rich in fiber
- vitamins A, C, and E
The fruit is best when ripe. In its ripening state, papaya appears yellow on the outside and orange on the inside with black seeds in its core. The ripened papaya is easy to scoop out with a spoon and is very delicious. The seeds, on the other hand, are very bitter. It is certainly an acquired taste and is not for everyone because of its strong, peppery, and bitter taste.
The green papaya has little to no taste and is used in various South Asian cuisine.
The papaya is a polygamous species meaning it has three sexes male, female, and hermaphrodite.
The male papaya tree cannot produce fruit, only pollen.
The female papaya tree can produce fruit however, it needs to be pollinated.
The hermaphrodite papaya tree can self-pollinate and produce edible fruit.
Certain viruses, fruitflies, and mites are threats to the papaya tree.
Large consumption of papaya, especially green papaya, is unofficially a form of natural contraception for many women in South Asia. Read an interesting report about it here.
The bark of the papaya tree is used to make rope.
Papaya comes equipped with a series of vital health benefits such as:
- may strengthen your immune system
- neutralizes and eliminates free radicals
- may improve cardiovascular health
- combats inflammation
- improves digestion
- lowers blood pressure
- improves wound healing
- may prevent asthma
- offers protection against Macular Degeneration (eye disease)
- improve bone health
- may reduce signs of HPV
- excellent for weight loss (high in fiber, low in calories)
- helps in bloating, making your stomach appear flat
- combats constipation
- ensures digestive tract health
- relieves toothache
- may alleviate pain during the menstrual cycle
- kills intestinal worms
- acts as a natural pain killer
Studies show that the intake of fermented papaya (in powdered form) can slow down; the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in patients. Papaya contains lycopene (anti-cancer properties). The Beta- carotene in papaya offers protection from prostate cancer. Papaya has a reputation for being a natural pain killer.
Fermented papaya may also reduce oxidative stress in older adults:
- people with liver disease
- people who suffer from mild hypothyroidism
Papaya can also block excess iron, which causes free radical formation. Papaya leaves are medicinal. Research shows; that papaya leaves may stop cancer growth and improve the immune system.
Ways to enjoy papaya
You can enjoy ripe papaya simply by scooping out the flesh with a spoon.
Freshly chopped papaya can add a refreshing taste to plain Greek yogurt.
You can enjoy papaya with quinoa seeds.
As a tasty fruit salad with pineapple and mango.
As a refreshing smoothie with fruits of your choice blended together. Try papaya, pineapple, and cucumber with coconut water to make a refreshing smoothie.
You can make tea with papaya leaves.
Green papaya is used to make soups and other South Asian dishes.
Papaya can also be used as a marinade to tenderize meat.
Papaya contains properties; that are healing and soothing for the skin and is also a natural skin exfoliant. Other skin benefits include:
- can protect skin from damage
- removes dead skin cells
- diminishes blemishes and age spots
- natural acne treatment
- contains anti-aging properties
- good natural remedy for sunburns
Papaya Face Mask
1) Make a paste with the soft flesh of the papaya.
2) Apply generously unto your face.
3) Leave on for 5 minutes.
4) Rinse off with lukewarm water.
Papaya can improve the health of your hair. Its vitamin A component can help keep your hair hydrated.
1) Mash the pulp of the fruit in a small bowl.
2) Mix with a dash of coconut milk.
3) Place on freshly washed hair.
4) Leave in for 10-20 minutes.
5) Rinse out.
A word of caution
Too much of a good thing can also have negative consequences, and eating too much papaya is no exception. Overconsumption of papaya can lead to diarrhea and upset stomach. Latex allergy sufferers may be allergic to papaya because of an enzyme called chitinase.
Papaya is a tropical wonder fruit. It is a good source of many key nutrients. Papaya has many positive benefits for health, skin, and hair. Although this fruit has many benefits, too much consumption can lead to diarrhea and an upset stomach.
Incorporating papaya into a healthy balanced diet can do wonders for your health and immune system. If you´ve never tried papaya before; it is well worth a try.
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