The Papaya, also called papaw, or pawpaw, is the fruit of the Carica Papaya tree. This succulent fruit is believed to be native to Southern Mexico and Central America. Its juicy flesh is deep yellow or orange or pinkish coloured. There are two types of papayas – the Hawaiian and the Mexican. While most people only eat the flesh, the small, black seeds in the center of the fruit are also edible. They taste like black pepper. People in some countries use papaya seeds in place of black pepper corns.
Christopher Columbus called it as the “fruit of the angels” and rightly so. Soft butter-like consistency along with its musky tang and sweet taste makes this sunlit, succulent fruit incredibly delicious. Apart from their savoury taste, papayas also have a plethora of health benefits. They are full of various vitamins and nutrients which are extremely beneficial for health.
Papayas are rich in papain, antioxidants, fibre, carotenoids and flavonoids. Furthermore, they contain vitamins A, B and C.
Here are a few health benefits and uses of papayas:
The papaya fruit is about 88.8% water. Due to such high-water content, they can reduce bloating and ease constipation. This aids your body in improving digestion.
Since they’re an excellent source of Vitamin C, eating papayas can boost your immune system. This will protect your body from a wide variety of infections and illnesses
Green papaya as well as the tree’s latex are rich in an enzyme called papain. Apart from being used as a natural meat tenderizer, it is also used treating human injuries. Papain is applied to treat rashes, cuts, burns and stings since it acts as painkiller. This enzyme increases the body’s production of cytokines. They are a group of proteins that help regulate inflammation. The fruit may reduce pain caused by arthritis and similar conditions as well.
Did you know that Harrison Ford’s ruptured disc was treated with papain? Yes, you heard it right. When Ford sustained that injury during the filming of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, he was treated with papain injections.
This superfood is low in calories and high in fibre which makes you feel full for longer. Papayas also promote healthy digestion due to their high-fibre content. This can reduce bloating and help flatten your stomach.
Protection Against Cancer
This antioxidant rich fruit may help protect the cells from damage and lower the risk of cancer. Papayas also contain a carotenoid called lycopene which can provide protection against cancer, thanks to its anti-cancer properties.
Moreover, an antioxidant known as beta-carotene is present in papayas. A study has determined that beta-carotene offers protection from prostate cancer.
Additionally, this fibre-rich fruit also reduces the risk of colon cancer by encouraging regular bowel movement.
Protection For Heart (potentially)
Papayas contain Vitamin C, potassium, antioxidants, and fibre. All these elements help keep your arteries healthy and promote blood flow. This can also lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure and stroke.
Protection For Eyes
Papayas contain a good amount of two antioxidants known as lutein and zeaxanthin in addition to Vitamin C and Vitamin E. These vitamins and nutrients can protect the eyes and help prevent eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataract. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two antioxidants used in the eyes that help reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases and help maintain good eye health.
Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
While the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, it is common knowledge that oxidative stress plays a role in the condition. This is an imbalance in the body between antioxidants and free radicals, which are molecules that cause cell damage.
A study found that extracts of fermented papaya powder may help counteract the effects of oxidative stress in people living with Alzheimer’s disease and slow the progression of the illness.
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