Papaya is native to Central America. Papaya is known to be one of the world’s super fruits.
It is used in a range of medicinal settings to cure all sorts of health issues. Today it can be found all year long with the peak season being early summer and fall.
There are two types of papaya plants, the Hawaiian and Mexican. Their fruits are pear shaped, weigh about one pound each, and have yellow skin when ripe. The flesh is pinkish or bright orange, depending on the type.
Papaya fruit offers not only the luscious taste but is a rich source of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C, the B vitamins, carotenes, folate, flavonoids and pantothenic acid; and the minerals, magnesium and potassium; and fiber. Together, these nutrients promote overall health.
How to choose the best ones
Buy papayas that are yellow in color. Papayas that are green and hard are immature and will not ripen properly. Halved papaya should smell sweet and nice, not fermented. Slightly green papayas will ripen quickly at room temperature, especially if you place it in a paper bag. As the fruit ripens, it will turn from green to yellow. Place ripe papaya in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Papaya will keep for up to a week, but it is best to use it within a day or two.
How to prepare it
Papaya can be eaten raw, sliced in half, with the seeds scooped out. You will want to add a little squeeze of lemon to enhance the flavor. Its seeds are usually discarded, but they can also be eaten. They are slightly spicy and can be used as a substitute for pepper in salad dressings and sauces.
Health benefits of papaya
This fruit contains papain, a special digestive enzyme, which is why it is most known to be a powerful digestive aid. It can also help the body to purify the blood, to heal wounds, to lower inflammation, and much more. Scientists believe that this fruit may help lower inflammation for people with inflammatory medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and others.
Eating papaya regularly may lower the risk of certain cancers. Various isothiocyanates are effective anti-cancer agents. Several studies have found that eating foods containing isothiocyanates inversely correlates with the risk of developing lung, breast, and colon cancers. Vitamin C has been shown to help lower the risk of heart attacks and protect the arteries against damage.
It may prevent free radical damage and the oxidation of cholesterol, reducing the ability of cholesterol to form plaques along the walls of arteries. People who eat foods low in vitamin C have been shown to have a higher risk of developing a heart attack or stroke, although more research needs to be done to determine the exact mechanism.
Side effects of papaya consumption
Though scientists suggest that eating papayas regulatory lowers high cholesterol levels, they recently noticed a significant increase of triglyceride and plasma total cholesterol level after a month of excessive papaya consumptions. However, more studies are needed to confirm this observation.