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Don’t Overlook the Abundant Healing Nutrients in the Mighty Papaya
Human beings have been enjoying the mildly sweet flesh of papaya fruit since the late 1500s. The papaya is a tropical fruit produced by the Carica tree, which many believe originated in Mexico and Central America. Today, several varieties of papaya are grown throughout the world. It is consider the main fruits of Asia as people understand the papaya benefits to their health.
Papaya is to spot in the produce section of your local grocery because it has a distinct shape and it is a fairly large fruit when compared to mangos, kiwi, and other tropical fruits. A typical Papaya can range in length from 7 to 20 inches, is oblong in shape, and usually weighs about five and one-half pounds.
The skin of the papaya is thin and not edible, and since papaya comes in several varieties, skin color can vary from dark greenish-orange to greenish-yellow, red-yellow, or yellow-green. The flesh is soft and typically pale orange or yellow, but some have a reddish tint. The texture of the fleshy inside is somewhat like a musk or cantaloupe melon, only slightly softer. The center is filled with little edible black seeds.
While papaya fruit is visually impressive because of its size alone, what is more impressive is its nutrient content and the many health benefits it offers. Papaya provides dietary fiber, plus vitamins and minerals. It is high in carotenes, antioxidants, flavonoids, and low in sodium. It’s also great for weight control because it is very low in calories; only about 39 calories in a 3.5 ounce serving.
Health Benefits of Papaya
Papaya is usually eaten raw, minus its skin and seeds, but the seeds are edible and have a spicy, sharp taste. In some parts of the world, they grind the seeds and use as a black pepper substitute. Papaya seeds are a source of saponins, which have antimicrobial properties, so ingesting them can prevent and eliminate intestinal worms. Unripe papaya can be consumed cooked or raw, and is often used in salads or added to stews and curry dishes.
Papaya Enzyme Benefits
Papaya also contains pectin, so some use it to make jelly. The enzyme, papain, contained in papaya, is known for its ability to break down tough protein fibers, so it’s often added to meat tenderizers. Papain is also extracted to make digestive supplements, which are quite pleasant to chew to soothe digestion, and you can find it as an ingredient in some chewing gum brandsas well. Papain has anti-nausea properties and it is presently being studied to treat the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation like swallowing difficulties and oral lesions.
Papaya Health Benefits
In addition to papain, this big fruit also contains chymopapain, and these two powerful enzymes act together to aid digestion by breaking proteins into amino acids. The papain content alone is highly beneficial as a topically treatment for cuts, stings, burns, and rashes.
Papain and chymopapain also lower inflammation and improve the healing of burns by breaking down the inactive proteins in the skin, which helps to remove dead tissue and speed up healing. They are also used to treat skin conditions, including psoriasis, warts, ringworm, and cold sores. Some use papaya as an ointment to relieve muscle pain, and the phytochemicals in the fruit suppress the effects of progesterone, so some women in third world countries where birth control is not allowed, eat papaya to lessen the possibility of becoming pregnant.
Please read part 2 of the post that provide in-depth of papaya health benefit