The papaya, a previously exotic and rare fruit, is now readily available at most times of the year. Papayas grow in tropical climates and are also known as papaws or pawpaws. Their sweet taste, vibrant color and wide variety of health benefits are just a few reasons to add them to your diet.
Nutritional Breakdown of Papaya
One medium papaya has approximately 120 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrate (including 5 grams of fiber and 18 grams of sugar) and 2 grams of protein.
Papayas are an excellent source of vitamin C and one single medium fruit provides 224% of your daily needs. Papayas are a good source of folate, vitamin A, magnesium, copper, pantothenic acid and fiber. They also have B vitamins, alpha and beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthan, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, vitamin K and lycopene, the powerful antioxidant most commonly associated with tomatoes.
Health Benefits of Papaya
The health benefits of papaya include better digestion, improvement in the immune system and the promotion of better heart health. Papaya is also believed to prevent cancer. Papaya, also known as Carica Papaya, is commercially famous for its high nutritive and medicinal value. Here are 10 health benefits of papaya.
1. Cardiovascular Benefits of Papaya
Papayas may be very helpful for the prevention of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Papayas are an excellent source of the powerful antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin A (through their concentration of pro-vitamin A carotenoid phytonutrients).
These nutrients help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol.
Papayas are also a good source of fiber, which has been shown to lower high cholesterol levels. The folic acid found in papayas is needed for the conversion of a substance called homocysteine into benign amino acids such as cysteine or methionine. If unconverted, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls and, if levels get too high, is considered a significant risk factor for a heart attack or stroke.
2. Anti-Cancer Benefits of Papaya
The health benefits of papaya can also be relevant for reducing your risk of developing certain types of cancers.
The rich antioxidant content of papaya, particularly lycopene, beta-carotene and another less well known carotenoid called beta-cryptoxanthin, are particularly beneficial in reducing your risk of developing cancer.
Proteolytic enzymes in papaya can digest the fibrin protein layer of cancer cells that usually surrounds and protects them. This may leave the cancerous cells more susceptible to the body’s immune response. It is also believed to hinder its growth and inhibit the cancer from spreading.
The fruit also contains compounds called isothiocyanates that may help prevent cancer by eliminating potential carcinogens from our bodies and enhancing the action of tumor suppressing proteins. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are an even richer source of isothiocyanates, but papaya is still a good source.
3. Good for Diabetics
Despite being sweet in nature, papayas are low in sugar content (8.3 g in one cup of sliced papaya) as well as glycemic index. This property makes papayas excellent fruits for diabetics. The vitamins and phytonutrients present in them prevents development of heart disease in diabetes. Also, people who don’t have diabetes can eat papaya to prevent it from happening. You may also want to read how to prevent diabetes with a fiber-rich healthy diet.
4. Digestive Benefits of Papaya
Papayas contain digestive enzymes that digest proteins by breaking the protein content. The enzyme that helps in digestion is mostly found in unripe state. It is full of digestive supplements and is also used in chewing gums. So next time your stomach is upset, cheer it up with a papaya.
5. Papaya Boosts Immune System
Papaya is particularly high in Vitamin C, A and E all powerful immune boosting antioxidant vitamins. Papayas have a very high content of vitamin C, an essential vitamin that we must get from food, as our bodies can’t make it. Papaya is also a great source of vitamin A, required to help maintain healthy mucus membranes, clear skin and good eye sight. Due to the properties of these vitamins, this makes papaya a great fruit to help fight free radicals.
6. Protects against Arthritis
Arthritis can be a really debilitating disease and people who have it may find their quality of life reduced significantly. Eating papayas are good for your bones as they have anti-inflammatory properties along with Vitamin C which helps in keeping various forms of arthritis at bay. A study published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases showed that people who consumed foods low in Vitamin C were three times more likely to have arthritis than those who didn’t.
7. Prevents Aging
Papaya is beneficial in preventing of premature aging. Due to present of different important phyto-nutrients, it helps to digest food in a smooth manner. When the peel are rubbed on the face and left for 5 minutes, gives glow to the skin due to presence of alpha-hydroxy acids.
However, one shouldn’t apply papaya for longer times as it may cause irritation. When the mix of papaya and milk are applied over the face, it helps to remove acne, blackheads, blemishes and pimples. The antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids also help in removing of wrinkles. Papaya prevents anti-aging because of detoxification properties and makes the skin soft and glowing.
8. Helps Relieve Menstrual Pain
The health benefits of papaya continue to be more useful for women, as the leaves also works as a cure for menstrual pain. Simply take the leaf, tamarind, salt, and some water, and allow it to work its menstrual pain relief magic.
9. Good for Erectile Dysfunction
Papaya has an enzyme called arginine which helps blood flow around the penis. Arginine acts on nitric acid which works on smoothing of penis muscles. Regular use of papaya helps treat erectile dysfunction.
10. Healing Benefits of Papaya
When used topically, mashed papaya appears to be beneficial for promoting wound healing and preventing infection of burned areas. Researchers believe that the proteolytic enzymes chymopapain and papain in papaya are responsible for its beneficial effects. Ointments containing the papain enzyme have also been used to treat decubitus ulcers or bedsores.