The papaya (from Carib via Spanish), papaw, or pawpaw is the fruit of the plant Carica papaya, the sole species in the genus Carica of the plant family Caricaceae.
The flesh (edible part) of the papaya is normally a bright orange color and can have yellow or pink hues. It is deliciously sweet with musky undertones and a soft, butter-like consistency. Inside the inner cavity of the fruit are black, round seeds encased in a gelatinous-like substance.
Papayas, native to Central America, have been long revered by the Latin American Indians. It was first cultivated in Mexico several centuries before the emergence of the Mesoamerican classical civilizations. Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought papayas to many other subtropical lands to which they journeyed including India, the Philippines, and parts of Africa.
In the 20th century, papayas/pawpaw fruits were brought to the United States and have been cultivated in Hawaii, the major U.S. producer since the 1920s. Due to tons of papaya benefits, this revered tropical fruit was reputably called “the fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus.
Amazing Health Benefits Of Eating Papaya Fruit
1. Skin Care Using Papaya
Applying unripe papaya juice on open wounds prevents pus formation and swelling and also is also used to treat skin disorders like chronic ulcers, acne and psoriasis. Papaya face packs help remove pigmentation or brown spots, and improve skin texture and elasticity. Papaya is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E and antioxidants like beta-carotene which helps prevent skin cell damage, keeping wrinkles and other signs of ageing at bay.
2. Papaya for Weight Loss
Papaya is a great weight loss diet food as it contains very low calories, zero cholesterol, high water content to hydrate, soluble fiber content that satiates you and boosts the waste management functions, effectively helping you shed the pounds from the inside out.
3. Digestive Aid
Papaya is known to be a natural laxative, relieving habitual constipation, bleeding piles and chronic diarrhea. The digestive enzyme papain along with the high water content and soluble fiber improve the ease of digestibility.
4. Fights Emphysema
If you smoke, or are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, papaya’s vitamin A can help reduce your lung inflammation and stave off respiratory diseases.
style="display: inline !important;">5. Prevents Heart Disease
Papaya is rich in fiber, Vitamin C and antioxidants, which prevent cholesterol oxidation that can result in dangerous plague formation contributing to heart attacks or strokes. Papaya contains zero cholesterol, and the high content of fiber will also help lower high cholesterol levels.
6. Intestinal Disorders
The papain in unripe papaya is extremely beneficial for those who are deficient in gastric juice, have excess of unhealthy mucus in the stomach, dyspepsia and intestinal irritation.
7. Menstrual Irregularities
Unripe papaya juice has long been recommended to ease menstrual flow in cases of menstruation cessation in young ladies due to cold or trauma. In pregnant ladies, regular consumption of a small slice of papaya helps to cure nausea and morning sickness.
8. Spleen Enlargement
An ancient remedy to reduce swelling and enlargement of spleen is to consume ripe papaya that has been soaked in vinegar.
9. Respiratory Disorders
A concoction of fresh unripe papaya juice and honey dissolves the “false” air-passage blocking membranes and prevents spread of infection, providing soothing relief against respiratory complaints of cough, bronchitis, breathlessness, over-inflamed tonsils, diphtheria and other throat disorders.
style="display: inline !important;">10. Hypertension Antidote
Papaya is also a rich source of Potassium, a critical component in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, relaxing the nerves and aiding blood circulation, preventing heart ailments and hypertension.
11. Eye Care
Papaya is rich in Vitamin A and phytochemicals – lutein, cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin, which help protect and maintain healthy cells, and act as antioxidants and filters blocking harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light, and preventing diseases like age-related macular degeneration.
The anti-inflammatory effects of the critical enzymes papain and chymopapain, along with Vitamins C, E, and beta carotene in papaya, greatly reduce inflammation in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout and asthma, and increase the rate of healing from burns.
13. Prevents Colon Cancer
The high water content and rich soluble fiber in papaya binds to cancer-causing toxins, and eliminates them from the body during bowel movements and antioxidants, phytonutrients, flavonoids, and carotenes prevent free radical cell damage causing colon, liver, lung and prostate cancers.
style="display: inline !important;">14. Strengthens Immunity Shield
The presence of Beta-carotene in papaya is required for the proper functioning of the immune system, preventing recurrent ear infections, cold and flu. Vitamin C, A and E all powerful immune boosting antioxidant vitamins, help maintain healthy mucus membranes, clear skin, good eye sight, all the while fighting free radicals
15. Diabetic Food
Papaya is extremely sweet to taste but surprisingly has low-sugar content. A great food for diabetics and people wanting to prevent it.
16. Stress Buster
Vitamin C in papayas help regulate the stress hormones making it a must food before you start your day or when you want to relax after a tiring, stressful work day.
17. Treats Renal Disorders
The aqueous seed extract of the unripe papaya, stimulates antioxidant and oxidative free radical scavenging, in poison induced kidney disorders, speeding the recovery process.
18. Dengue Treatment
The extract obtained from the papaya leaf increases the platelet count or thrombocytes in patients suffering from dengue fever.
style="display: inline !important;">19. Fights Human Papillomavirus
Papaya is rich in vital nutrients- beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein zeaxanthin and vitamin C, which reduce the risk of HPV, the cervical cancer virus, affecting women.
20. Nutritional Powerhouse
Papaya contains a special proteolytic enzyme called papain which is an excellent aid to digestion, and treats jellyfish sting and surgical wounds. It is a rich source of anti-oxidant nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin A and C and flavonoids, B vitamins B1 and B6, folate and pantothenic acid. It also contains small amounts of the minerals calcium, chlorine, iron, phosphorus, potassium, silicon and sodium important to proper cellular functioning and an essential component of a healthy diet.
Side Effects and Precautions
1. Latex Allergy
Like avocados and bananas, papayas contain substances called chitinases that are associated with the latex-fruit allergy syndrome. There is strong evidence of the cross-reaction between latex and these foods.
2. Pregnancy and breast-feeding
Don’t take papaya by mouth in medicinal amounts if you are pregnant. There is some evidence that unprocessed papain, one of the chemicals found in papaya, might poison the fetus or cause birth defects.
style="display: inline !important;">3. Carotenemia
Eating too much of a yellow, green or orange-colored food that contains beta carotene can cause a benign form of skin discoloration (yellow or orange) called carotenemia.
4. Respiratory Distress
People who eat too much papaya and ingest high levels of papain may develop symptoms consistent with hay fever or asthma, including wheezing, breathing difficulties and nasal congestion.
5. Kidney Stones
Consuming more than recommended vitamin C (found in papaya) per day can induce toxicity symptoms, including oxalate kidney stones. Oxalate is a byproduct of vitamin C once the nutrient has been metabolized.
6. Gastrointestinal Symptoms
Ironically, the same papain that calms your stomach can cause an upset stomach when taken in large amounts. The high fiber content of papaya can also contribute to unrest of the digestive system when you indulge in too much of the tropical fruit, and the latex in the fruit’s skin may cause stomach irritation.