Papayas grow best in tropical climates and have different names like pawpaws or papaws in different parts of the world. Their vibrant color, sweet taste and wide range of health benefits make them favorite fruit. Earlier in time, papaya was considered as a rare, exotic fruit, but today, it is available almost everywhere.
This fleshy, soft fruit can be used for various things. It has got plenty of health benefits like reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It improves your blood glucose level, digestion, lowers the blood pressure and helps in faster healing of a wound.
We have brought you the best of papaya benefits that will convince you to include it in your daily diet. Read on.
Top Papaya Benefits
Replete with nutrients
Papaya is a fruit that originated in Southern Mexico and Central America. It contains an enzyme named papain, which breaks down tough protein chains found in muscle meat. For this, people have started tenderizing meat using papaya for more than thousands of years.
You can have ripe papaya raw, but the unripe ones should be cooked before consuming them. It is high in latex fruit, which is great during pregnancy. It stimulates contractions. Papayas are very similar to pears in shape and can be 51cm long. The skin of unripe papayas is green and turns orange when ripe. The flesh of the fruit can differ from yellow, red to orange. The seeds are black and edible, but bitter in taste.
One papaya of 157 grams consists of:
- 68 calories
- 2.7 g dietary fiber, or 10 percent DV
- 31 milligrams (mg) calcium, or 3.1 percent DV
- 33 mg magnesium, 8 percent DV
- 286 mg potassium, 6.08 percent DV
- 0.13 mg zinc, 0.9 percent DV
- 95.6 mg vitamin C, 106.2 percent DV
- 58 micrograms (mcg) folate, 14.5 percent DV
- 1,492 international units (IU) vitamin A, 30 percent DV
- 0.47 mg vitamin E, 2.4 percent DV
- 4.1 mcg vitamin K, 5.1, percent DV
Not only this, it contains good antioxidants called carotenoids, specifically called lycopene. What’s interesting is our body absorbs these beneficial antioxidants from papaya better than it could from any other vegetable or fruits.
Has strong antioxidant effects
Free radicals or as it is known, reactive molecules are formed during the metabolism of your body. They are capable of promoting oxidative stress which causes several diseases. The antioxidants, such as carotenoids in papaya tend to neutralize these free radicals.
Believing the studies, fermented papaya has strong antioxidant properties that can reduce oxidative stress in adults and people suffering from liver disease, mild hypothyroidism and prediabetes. According to many experts, excessive free radicals in our brain are the main risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease.
In a study, people suffering from Alzheimer’s were given fermented papaya extract for almost 6 months. They experienced a drop of 40% in the biomarker, which suggests oxidative damage to DNA. It is also linked to cancer and aging.
Lycopene in papaya reduces oxidative stress and removes excess iron from the body, which produces free radicals. No excess iron, no free radicals, no oxidative stress!
Has anticancer properties
Lycopene in Papaya is a very important ingredient in combating various diseases, which also includes cancer. As per studies, eating papaya can be very useful for people under cancer treatment. It reduces free radicals that are the main reason behind cancer.
In addition to this, papaya contributes to its unique effects, which are rarely found in other fruits. Among fourteen vegetables and fruits having antioxidant properties, only papaya showed anticancer properties in breast cancer cells.
In a small-scale study, fermented papaya when given to adults with precancerous stomach conditions and inflammation, reduced oxidative damage. However, more solid evidence is needed before final recommendations. But, papaya can slow down the progress of cancer for sure.
Improves heart health
Adding a good amount of papaya in your balanced diet may improve your heart health. According to research, fruits rich in Vitamin C and lycopene help to avoid heart problems. The antioxidant content in papaya protects the heart and boosts the preventative effects of the (good) HDL cholesterol.
In a study, people taking fermented papaya supplements for up to 14 weeks saw improved ratio of ‘bad’ LDL to ‘good’ HDL and less inflammation than people taking placebo. This improved ratio reduces the risk of heart issues.
Has the ability to fight inflammation
Chronic inflammation is the cause of several diseases. Lifestyle choices and unhealthy food habits can lead to inflammation. To believe the reports from expert studies, fruits like papaya, rich in antioxidants work well in reducing inflammatory markers.
Considering an example, one study inferred that men who took higher intake of vegetables and fruits high in carotenoids saw a fall in CRP, a specific inflammatory marker. You can talk to your physician before including papaya into your diet.
Has the ability to prevent skin damage
Along with the properties of keeping your body fit and healthy, papaya helps your skin look youthful and more toned. The reason behind sagging, wrinkling and other skin damage issues are the excessive free radical with growing age. The lycopene and Vitamin C content in papaya gives your skin protection and reduces the early signs of aging.
According to a study, people kept on lycopene supplement for more than 10-12 weeks saw reduced redness of the skin from sun exposure. It is a sign of skin injury that was reduced by the intake of papaya supplements.
Another study on older women inferred that consuming a mix of Vitamin C, lycopene and other antioxidants for almost 14 weeks showed a measurable and visible reduction in facial wrinkles. Papaya is a wonderful fruit for glowing and damage-free skin.
Can improve digestion
The enzyme, papain in papaya makes it easier to digest protein. In the tropical areas where papaya grows in abundance, people use the fruit as a natural home remedy for constipation and various other conditions of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
As per research, papaya-based formula, when taken for 40 days showed notable improvement of bloating and constipation. The roots, seeds and leaves of the fruits are also used to treat problems like ulcers in humans and animals.
Versatile and delicious
Papaya is the favorite fruit of a lot of people, both kids and adults, especially when perfectly ripe. Overly ripe or unripe papaya tastes different from the one ripe perfectly.
Optimal ripe papaya looks orange-red or yellow in color, a few green spots on them are still fine. Similar as avocado, the skin of the fruit should yield to gentle pressure.
Papaya tastes the best when eaten cold. So, make sure you refrigerate it before eating. Wash it well, cut in half lengthwise or in cubes or like melon or cantaloupe.
As the fruit is much versatile, you can combine it with several other items that complement its taste.
We hope these health benefits of papaya were enough to convince you including it into your daily balanced diet. Let’s check out some healthy and easy ways to eat papaya.
How to eat papaya?
Papaya is a delicious fruit but needs to be picked up smartly. When buying papayas from the market, you should choose the ones that look fresh and have reddish-orange skin, soft to touch. Scoop out the seeds, cut it in cubes, refrigerate for a few hours and enjoy the delicious fruit. Being a versatile food, it can be mixed with various other food items. Here are a few preparations of papaya, you can try.
Is papaya a good choice for your weight loss diet?
If you are thinking about shedding off that extra weight and wondering if you should include papaya in your weight loss diet plan, you can. In fact, papaya works great for weight loss.
Papaya is low in calorie count, which makes it an excellent fruit for people on a weight loss diet. In addition to this, it is a perfect source of fiber, which helps you feel fuller for a long period of time. Ultimately, you eat less, which means fewer calorie intake in the day.
The fiber content in papaya is also helpful for healthy digestion. Having improved digestion makes you feel less bloated, which again helps keep your stomach flatter.
How to select and store papaya?
Papayas are easily found in almost all supermarkets and grocery stores in almost every country. But, that doesn’t mean every piece is a good pick. If you want a papaya best in taste, buy the ripe fruit or keep it until ripe.
Unripe papaya looks yellow and green in color, whereas ripe papaya is bright yellow and firm. You can check it if it’s soft when applying gentle pressure. When buying ripe papaya, do not buy one which is too soft unless your plan is to prepare papaya smoothie or use it as a puree.
A fresh and tasty papaya will have minimum blemishes. If buying unripe papaya from a supermarket, it should ripen within two days’ time. When it ripens, store it in the refrigerator to avoid over-ripening of the fruit.
If you have any leftover papaya, you can store it in the freezer for almost 10 months. Just remove the seeds and cut the fruit into small pieces and store.
Easy papaya recipes
- For breakfast: Cut the papaya in half, fill it with Greek Yogurt and top with chopped nuts and blueberries (depends on your taste).
- As an appetizer: Cut it lengthwise and wrap a ham slice or prosciutto slice around the pieces.
- As salsa: Chop tomatoes, cilantro, onions and papaya. Add lime juice and mix well before eating.
- As a smoothie: Mix diced papayas with coconut milk, add ice and blend it in a blender until smooth. Serve chilled.
- As a salad: Chop avocado and papayas in small cubes, add cooked and diced chicken, dress with vinegar and olive oil for a healthy and tasty salad.
- As a dessert: Add a cup of almond milk, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds and ¼ teaspoon of vanilla to chopped papayas. Mix properly and refrigerate to eat.
Some more recipes:
- You can add papaya (muddle it) to a lemonade glass, water or iced tea for a fresh and fruity flavor.
- Prepare fresh salsa using mango, jalapeno, papaya, chipotle pepper and red peppers. Use the salsa as fish taco toppings.
- Papaya combined with pineapple juice, tastes delicious in a smoothie. For a tropical treat, you can blend papaya with Greek yogurt.
Some fast facts on papaya
- Papaya is a native fruit of Mexico. It also grows naturally in Florida and Caribbean.
- As per the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the country producing the most papayas is India. Going back to the year 2013, India produced more than 5 million tons of papayas.
- Papaya can be ate as salads, smoothies and various other dishes
Side effects of eating papaya
Although papaya is a healthy fruit, it can cause allergic reactions in some people. The latex of papaya can cause skin irritation and allergies. Papaya seeds and papaya juice doesn’t cause much side-effects. However, consuming papaya leaves in excessive amounts can lead to stomach irritation.
For accurate recommendation, talk to your physician if you are allergic to the fruit.
The Bottom Line
Papaya is a tropical fruit with immense health benefits along with its delicious taste. It is available in almost every part of the world. The main health benefits of the tasty fruit are – improves heart health, boosts immunity, improves digestion, full of nutrients and contains anti-oxidants. It also prevents damage of skin and helps in weight loss with its low-calorie and high fiber content.
As you are now aware of the benefits of papaya, choosing and storing the fruits, along with some other amazing facts, include it in your diet. However, talk to your health expert to know if you are allergic to papayas.