PAPAYA Health Benefits & Papaya Healthy Recipes
Deliciously sweet with musky undertones and a soft, butter-like consistency, it is no wonder the papaya was reputably called the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus. Once considered quite exotic, they can now be found in markets throughout the year. Although there is a slight seasonal peak in early summer and fall, papaya trees produce fruit year round.
Papayas are spherical or pear-shaped fruits that can be as long as 20 inches. The ones commonly found in the market usually average about 7 inches and weigh about one pound. Their flesh is a rich orange color with either yellow or pink hues. Inside the inner cavity of the fruit are black, round seeds encased in a gelatinous-like substance. Papaya seeds are edible, although their peppery flavor is somewhat bitter. The fruit, as well as the other parts of the papaya tree, contain papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins. This enzyme is especially concentrated in the fruit when it is unripe. Papain is extracted to make digestive enzyme dietary supplements and is also used as an ingredient in some chewing gums.
The papaya fruit is very low in calories (just 39 calories/100 g) and contains no cholesterol; however, it is a rich source of phyto-nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.
Papayas contain soft, easily digestible flesh with a good amount of soluble dietary fiber that helps to have normal bowel movements; thereby reducing constipation problems.
Fresh, ripe papaya is one of the fruits with the highest vitamin-C content (provides 61.8 mg or about 103% of DRI, more than that of in oranges, or lemons). Research studies have shown that vitamin C has many important functions like free radicals scavenging, immune booster, and anti-inflammatory actions.
It is also an excellent source of Vitamin-A (provides 1094 IU/100 g) and flavonoids like ß-carotene, lutein, zea-xanthin and cryptoxanthin. Vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is essential for healthy vision. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties; help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Consumption of natural fruits rich in carotenes has known to protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Papaya fruit is also rich in many essential B-complex vitamins such as Folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish and play a vital role in metabolism.
Fresh papaya also contains a good amount of potassium (257 mg per 100 g) and calcium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids and helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure countering effects of sodium.
Papaya seeds have been proven natural remedy for many ailments in the traditional medicines. The seeds can be found application as anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, and analgesic, and used to treat stomachache, and ringworm infections.
Papaya Healthy Recipes:
Zingy Fruity Salsa
- 1 cup diced fresh mango
- 1 cup diced fresh pineapple
- 1 cup diced papaya
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 1/2 large red onion, finely diced
- 4-5 tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. olive oil
Toss the first five ingredients together in a large bowl. Add lime juice, olive oil, and salt, and stir well. Sprinkle with chopped mint leaves before serving.
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 large, ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 small ripe banana, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup ice cubes
Combine the milk, yogurt, vanilla, banana, papaya and ice cubes in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy.