Papaya known by its scientific name as Carica Papaya, is an incredibly healthy tropical fruit and is commercially famous for its high nutritive and medicinal value.
Papayas grow in tropical climates and are also known as papaws or pawpaws. Their sweet taste, vibrant color and a wide variety of health benefits are just a few reasons to add them to your diet.
It’s loaded with antioxidants that can reduce inflammation, fight disease and help keep you looking young.
The possible health benefits of consuming papaya include a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, aiding in digestion, relief from a toothache, improving blood glucose control in diabetics, lowering blood pressure, and improving wound healing.
Nutritional Value of Papaya
Papaya is rich in antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, lycopene, flavonoids and vitamin C, A as well as vitamin B (folate and pantothenic acid).
It is also a good source of fiber and minerals such as magnesium, potassium. Together, these nutrients help to improve cardiovascular health and protect against colon cancer.
Papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which can break down the tough protein chains found in muscle meat.
Because of this, people have used papaya to tenderize meat for thousands of years.
Health Benefits of Papaya
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. The following are the amazing health benefits you’ll enjoy when you eat pawpaw often.
1. It’s Antioxidant Properties
Free radicals are always generated by the body during metabolism.
Though they cause cell damage, they also perform certain important functions, including helping to destroy harmful bacteria (1). Excess free radicals in the body lead to oxidative stress which can lead to a disease condition.
Antioxidants, including the carotenoids found in papayas, can neutralize free radicals so that they are no longer able to cause harm (2).
Also, many researchers believe that excessive free radicals in the brain are an important factor in Alzheimer’s disease (7). The reduction in oxidative stress has been attributed to papaya’s lycopene content and ability to remove excess iron, which is known to produce free radicals (8, 9).
Read: 9 Antioxidant Rich Foods
2. Anticancer Properties
Research suggests that the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene and lycopene (found in papayas) has been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic and other cancers (10).
Papaya’s cancer-fighting ability appears to be due to its ability to reduce free radicals that contribute to cancer development and progression.
Among 14 fruits and vegetables with known antioxidant properties, the only papaya demonstrated anti-cancer activity in breast cancer cells (11).
3. Improved Heart Health
Adding more papaya to your diet may be beneficial for your heart.
Having three powerful antioxidant vitamins, namely vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, means that papayas are helpful in preventing problems such as atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.
Studies show that lycopene- and vitamin C-rich fruits may help prevent heart disease (12, 13). The antioxidants in papaya may protect your heart and enhance the protective effects of HDL, the “good” cholesterol (14, 15).
4. Aids Digestion
Papayas are commonly used to aid digestion. The presence of papain, a digestive super enzyme, helps in breaking down of proteins for easy digestion and also cleanses the digestive tract.
People in the tropics consider papaya a remedy for constipation and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A research study of people who took a papaya-based formula for 40 days had significant improvement in constipation and bloating (16).
5. Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Chronic inflammation is at the root of many diseases, and unhealthy foods and lifestyle choices can drive the inflammatory process (19).
The enzymes present in papayas, especially the papain and chymopapain, reduce the inflammation in different parts of the body.
6. Eating Papaya Aids Weight Loss
One medium sized papaya contains just 120 calories.
Papayas are also good for people who are trying to lose weight naturally. Having a bowl full of papaya as a mid-evening or mid-morning snack is good for health.
7. Papaya Has Skin Care Benefits
Papayas can be great revitalizing agents, which is why they are used in many cosmetics. 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.
Papain kills dead cells and purifies the skin. The beneficial properties and the healing enzymes present in papayas help treat sunburn and irritated skin. Adequate intake of vitamin C, which papaya can provide, is needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair.
The peels of papayas are also used to rub on the face and hands for healthy skin; it will work wonders for your skin. Papayas are also used to treat skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis
Ointments containing the papain enzyme have also been used to treat decubitus ulcers or bedsores.
8. Prevents Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is a disease of the eye. In this condition, the ocular cells become degenerated which results in blurred vision and can cause blindness as well.
Papaya is rich in vitamin A, and flavonoid like beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, cyptoxanthin and lutein which keep the mucous membranes in the eyes healthy and possibly ward off damage from macular degeneration.
Arthritis can be a really debilitating disease and people who have it may find their quality of life reduced significantly.
Papayas have been known to be effective against rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
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.
Women who experience menstrual pain should help themselves to several servings of papaya, as an enzyme called papain helps in regulating and easing flow during menstrual periods.
Papaya juice can also be of great help for women with irregular periods. Consumption of green, unripe papayas can also normalize the irregularity in the periodic cycle.
Papayas are considered as a ‘hot food’, meaning that it produces heat in the body. This excessive production of heat in the body stimulates the estrogen hormone (20).
11. Improved Immunity
Your immune system acts as a shield against various infections that can make you really sick.
A single papaya can fulfill more than 200 percent of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, making it great to build a stronger immune system.
Research conducted by Hiramoto, Imao, Sato, Inoue, and Mori from Japan is proof that the antioxidants present in papaya play an important role in improving the immunity system of people.
What are your thoughts on these benefits of eating papaya? Let us know in the comment section below. Keen on learning more? Read 15 Protein loaded foods you should include in your diet next 🙂