Papaya is a fruit from the Carica papaya plant, originating in Central America and Southern Mexico. Papayas grow in tropical climates and are now grown in various parts of the world. They are also known as “papaws” or “pawpaws” (remember Jungle Book’s “Bare Necessities” song?). Papayas can grow up to twenty inches (50 cm) long, the skin is green when unripe turning orange when ripened. The flesh inside is either yellow, orange or red. The fruit also has many black seeds in its centre, these are edible, but do have a bitter flavour; something between that of mustard and peppercorns. This exotic princess has a sweet yet distinct taste and wide variety of health attributes, read on for our Top 5 Health Benefits of Papaya!
1. Good for diabetes
One small papaya provides about 2.7 grams of fibre. Findings have indicated that higher fibre in the diet can lower blood glucose levels for diabetics and improve cholesterol levels. It is rich in vitamin C. which along with other antioxidants, help diabetics to prevent heart disease.
2. Reduces menstrual pain and cramps
Papayas produce heat in the body; this stimulates the hormone estrogen which induces and normalises periods in females. The consumption of green, unripe papaya or its juice can be of great help for women with irregular periods. It helps in regulating and easing flow during menstrual periods, as it enables the proper functioning of the uterus muscles and can normalise the irregularity in the periodic cycle -a great natural product to help alleviate this problem. (How interesting that papaya seems shaped like a part of woman’s anatomy, is nature gently trying to tell us something?)
3. Protects skin against aging and damage
Papaya can contribute to a more toned and youthful skin. Excessive free radical activity is believed to cause much of the wrinkling process and other skin damage. Papaya is full of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, lycopene and antioxidants like beta-carotene, which help protect skin cells. Vitamin C is needed for building and maintaining collagen, which provides skin its structure and papain (an enzyme in papaya) kills dead cells and purifies the skin. Papayas are used in many cosmetics, homemade facemasks and you can also use the peels of papayas to rub on the face and hands for a healthy glow.
4. Reduces acne and burns
Papayas are also used to treat skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis. For acne: the latex obtained from papaya is used to treat the areas on the skin affected with acne. The fleshy side of the papaya skin can be used as a mask to help cure acne. A diet that includes this fruit will also help cure the causative conditions internally, making the skin clearer. For burns: The healing enzymes present in papayas help treat sunburn and irritated skin, when the latex obtained from papayas, is applied to the burned area, it helps in reducing the marks caused. Used topically, mashed papaya is beneficial for promoting wound healing and preventing the infection of burns.
5. Protects against rheumatoid arthritis and arthritic pain
An enzyme found in papaya, called chymopapain, can have a significant effect in controlling rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The presence of papain and chymopapain contribute to the anti-inflammatory benefits of the fruit reducing inflammation and pain at the joints. Researchers have long observed the connection between low levels of vitamin C and a higher risk of developing arthritis. With its Vitamin C and papain, papaya can help prevent and reduce arthritic issues. Papaya also provides minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium, which contribute to building up the calcium stores in the body, thus good for your bones.
Papayas can be eaten as is, or added to many different recipes. You can use a melon baller to scoop out the fruit of a halved papaya and add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice on top for even more extra flavour and nutrients. Have a few slices of fresh, ripe papaya alongside your breakfast, add them to salads, (or fresh fruit salads), simply solo as a satisfying snack or blend into your favourite smoothies! You can discard the seeds, chew them whole or blend them into a creamy salad dressing, giving it a peppery flavour. Enjoy! How do you serve up your papayas? Tell us below or @ Keep fit Kingdom !