The health benefits of papaya include better digestion, relief from toothache, 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.
Fruits like papaya immensely benefit your body. Papaya is a natural source of vitamins and minerals that are essential for the normal functioning of the body. It is famous for the luscious taste and sunlit color of the tropics and has many health benefits. Papaya can be eaten as a fruit, a smoothie, a milkshake, and as a vegetable in raw form. Papaya, a cerise-orange colored juicy fruit is not only fragrant and delicious but also very healthy. Papaya has been famous for hundreds of years and it was once called the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus.
Latex derived from the raw fruit is used as a meat tenderizer and is also used in the manufacturing of several cosmetic, skin, and beauty products, as well as certain chewing gums. They are available for consumption throughout the year.
The whole fruit, including other parts of the papaya tree, are beneficial to health in several ways. An enzyme called papain is present in the fruit which helps in the digestion of proteins. Papaya in raw form contains this enzyme, which is used in the preparation of dietary supplements and chewing gums.
Papaya is rich in antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, flavonoids and vitamin C, as well as vitamin B (folate and pantothenic acid). It is also a good source of fiber and minerals such as magnesium. Together, these nutrients help to improve cardiovascular health and protect against colon cancer.
Health Benefits of Papaya
Better Digestive Health: Papayas are commonly used to aid digestion. The presence of papain, a digestive super enzyme, improves digestion by breaking down proteins and also cleanses the digestive tract. This ensures a reduced conversion of protein into body fat. If the protein in our diet is not digested properly, it may cause arthritis, constipation, diabetes, high blood pressure and other related health conditions.
Prevents Infections: Papayas are effective for killing intestinal worms, thereby avoiding infections and complications associated with them.
Relief from Toothaches: A paste of fresh papaya roots can be massaged onto the teeth and gums to give relief from toothaches. The bark of the tree, primarily the inner bark, is also an excellent remedy. (Somonsohn, 2002).
Anticancer Properties: Researchers have discovered that papayas are effective against breast, pancreatic and other cancers. A papaya leaf extract obtained from dried leaves produced anti-carcinogenic effects against tumor cells that were grown in the laboratory. It was observed in a study conducted by a University of Florida researcher Nam Dang, and his colleagues in Japan, that the effects were stronger when the cells were given larger doses of tea. The scientists exposed different types of cancer-affected cells to different papaya leaf extracts and found that the growth of tumors had slowed down in all the cultures. The fruit has gained credibility and has been used in many western medicines for its anticancer powers.
Skin Care: Papayas can be great revitalizing agents, which is why they are used in many cosmetics. Also, papayas are used in homemade face masks by many women. Papain kills dead cells and purifies the skin. The beneficial properties and the healing enzymes present in papayas help treat sunburn and irritated skin. A good facial massage using papayas is good for the skin and removes the dead cells. If you are a person who spends most of their time outdoors, then papayas can be a great help as papayas fights free radicals that age your skin. 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, sores, wounds and ulcers .
Improved Heart Health: The seeds of papayas are good for a healthy 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. The presence of pro- carotenoid phytonutrients helps prevent oxidization of the cholesterol in the body. When oxidation of cholesterol takes place, it sticks to the walls of the blood vessels and forms plaque that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin E and vitamin C obtained from papayas will help in preventing the cholesterol from sticking to the walls, thereby keeping your heart healthy. As a good source of fiber, papayas also helps to reduce the cholesterol levels in the body. Include papayas in your daily diet as a mid-evening snack to keep your heart young.
Reduce Acne and Burns: The latex obtained from papayas 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 cure acne. A diet which includes papayas will help to cure the conditions internally, making the skin clear. Also, when the latex is applied on the burnt area, it helps in reducing the marks caused due to the burn.
Anti-Inflammatory Effects: The enzymes present in papayas, especially the papain and chymopapain, reduce the inflammation in different parts of the body.
Papaya for 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. This is an age–related illness and adding papayas to the diet is beneficial for reducing the risk of developing macular degeneration. An antioxidant named beta-carotene gives color to the papaya. Just as carrots help to improve the eye sight, the presence of beta-carotene is known to be effective in reducing the effect of macular degeneration as well. According to a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, the consumption of 3 or more servings of fruit on a daily basis day may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
Treating Constipation: The presence of folate, vitamin C and vitamin E in papayas reduces motion sickness by producing a tonic effect in the stomach and in the intestines. Papaya juice and the ripened form of papaya also help to aid digestion. The fiber obtained from the fruit helps to increase bowel movements. Improved bowel movements help to ease the passage of stool, thereby reducing the effects of constipation (Pinoy B. 2010).
Menstruation: Papaya juice can 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. This induces periods in the females. Hence, papayas can be beneficial to handle difficult periods.
Arthritis: Papayas have been known to be effective against rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. One of the enzymes found in papayas, called chemopapain, has a significant effect on controlling rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Improved Immunity: Papaya consumption has also been linked to improvement in the immunity system of the body. Research conducted by Hiramoto, Imao, Sato, Inoue, and Mori from Japan is a proof that the antioxidants present in papaya play an important role in improving the immunity system of people.
Flowers and roots of the plant have been proven to be beneficial against jaundice, bronchitis, kidney colic and other illnesses.
Some Side Effects of Papayas
Consumption of papaya in normal dietary amounts is recognized as safe by FDA. However, there are a certain side effects of consuming papaya.
Papaya is Harmful For Pregnant Women: Papaya is classified as being harmful during pregnancy. It is considered as a ‘hot’ fruit. Latex, present in high concentrations in raw and semi-ripe papayas, causes uterine contractions which might lead to abortions. Avoid eating raw papaya if you are pregnant.
Gastrointestinal Irritation: Consuming large quantities of papaya can cause a powerful laxative effect in the intestines. Avoid eating large quantities of papaya, especially if it is in its raw form. Unripe or raw fruit can cause pain in the intestines or stomach, and can sometimes cause esophageal perforations.
Seeds: The black seeds of the papaya contain traces of an enzyme called carpine, which is a potentially toxic substance. According to the International BioPark Foundation’s information about Medicinal Plants of the Peruvian Amazon, this enzyme can make the nerve centers numb, which could lead to paralysis or cardiac depression. In some cases, the narrowing of blood vessels is also seen, which is the caused due to Carpine or carparine.
Quick Tips to Enjoy Papayas:
Pieces of papaya, when soaked with a bit of lemon juice and honey, is an absolute treat for the taste buds.
Blend papayas, strawberries and yogurt for a cold soup treat.
Add a slice of papaya to fresh fruit salad and have it as a snack.
Have a bowl of fresh ripe papaya along with your breakfast to add calories that you require for the day.