Papaya or Papita:
Papaya (papita) is a nutritious fruit that is available in market throughout the year. It is an exotic, pear shaped and dark yellow colored fruit which has soft, orange colored edible flesh. There are lots of black seeds inside the fruit. These seeds are encased in a gelatin type substance. Though papaya tree gives fruit twice in a year- October-November and February-March but the fruits grow in October are sweeter in taste. Initially, an unripe papaya is green in colour and has a bitter taste. You should not eat unripe papayas without cooking. The taste of ripe fruit is sweet enough but the aftertaste is slight bitter. Therefore, children often don’t like to eat it.
History of Papaya:
Papayas are the native of Southern Mexico and Central America. Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought papayas (papita) many other countries during their journey. Columbus called this tropical fruit “the fruit of the angels”. Portuguese sellers brought papaya in India before two hundred years back. Now it is cultivated in almost all of the countries of the world. In the 20th century, papayas were brought to the United States and have been cultivated in Hawaii. However, Hawaii is the largest commercial producer and exporter of papayas since 1920s. Today, United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico are the largest commercial producers of papayas.
Properties of Papaya:
Papaya (papita) is a natural source of vitamins and minerals. These vitamins and minerals are most essential to keep your body healthy. It is rich in antioxidant nutrients like- carotenes, flavonoids, vitamin C and vitamin B. These nutrients help to fight with infection and also help to remove toxins from body. Other nutrients of papaya are – vitamin-A, fibre, copper, potassium, magnesium and pantothenic acid.
Papayas contain 212 amino acids and several enzymes. Most important substance of papayas is its enzyme papain that helps to digest proteins. It also contains vitamin-B like folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B1).
Health Benefits of Papaya:
Papaya, an amazing fruit, is a rich source of digestive enzyme- ‘papain’. Nutrients found in papayas play an important role to keep you healthy. Papaya is used as a natural remedy for many diseases. It is good for heart disease, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and almost all digestive health problems. Papayas ( papita) also contain the flavonoid beta carotene and lutein. (2) They help to keep your immune system healthy. Its main health benefits are-
1. Papaya for Digestive Problems:
Papaya is a great fruit that strengthens digestive system and improves appetite.(1) It also helps to remove constipation, indigestion and acidity. Its great enzyme- papain and fiber play an important role to digest proteins faster and discourage acid reflux. By eating papaya daily, you can also control the headache due to acidity and nausea.
The nutrients of papayas ( papita) like- vitamin C & E, beta-carotene, fiber and folate- are also helpful in the prevention of colon cancer. They are able to bind cancer causing toxins in the colon and keep them away from the healthy colon cells. Therefore, to keep your digestion healthy, eat it (200-250 gm) daily.
2. Cholesterol & Heart Disease:
Papaya lowers cholesterol level because it has powerful anti-oxidants vitamin-C, fiber and phyto-nutrients. These nutrients prevent the excess cholesterol build-up in arteries and protect the body from heart disease. Therefore, to regularize cholesterol eat papaya daily or drink its juice.
Likewise, if you have heart problem, take one cup decoction (kadha) of papaya tree leaves regularly. To make decoction, boil 2-3 leaves in two cups of water till it reduces half. Then sieve it and drink lukewarm.
3. Papaya for High Blood Pressure:
Papaya helps to control high blood pressure without medicine. It contains vitamin-A, B, C, D and an element karpen (or karpein) which play an important role in controlling blood pressure. Papayas are also rich in potassium that plays an important role in reducing high blood pressure. Therefore, eat fresh papaya on an empty stomach at least for one month.
4. Good for Constipation and Piles:
Piles is somehow inter connected to constipation. To control these problems, eat one bowl papaya (papita) daily in breakfast and at evening regularly. Its fiber helps in increasing bowel movements that ease the passage of stool. As a result, there is no constipation.
5. Arthritis and Bone Related Problems:
Papaya also has anti-inflammatory properties; its unique digestive enzymes- papain and chemopapain help to reduce inflammation due to arthritis. In addition, it is also rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and copper. Its anti-oxidants, beta carotene and vitamin-C are also good to treat joints pain and bones related health problems. By eating it regularly, you can get relief in inflammation related health problems.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative bones related health problem; it is often related to age. Use of papaya showed great results to control it; only need is to be regular and have patience. Therefore include it in your daily diet to overcome these health problems.
6. Papaya for Weight Loss:
Papayas contain more nutrients and less calories; a medium size papaya contains just 120 calories. In addition, it is also rich in dietary fiber that helps in weight loss.
7. Papaya for Skin:
Papayas contain anti-oxidants, vitamin-C and vitamin E which help to prevent your skin free from radical damage. Its important enzyme- ‘papain’ kills dead cells and revitalises the skin. It also keeps wrinkles and ageing signs away. The healing enzymes of papayas help to treat sunburn and many other skin disorders.
Another enzyme of papayas- ‘latex’ is useful to cure acne and burns. You can treat it by applying fleshy side on the skin affected by acne. Latex also helps to reduce the signs of burns.
Therefore, include it in your daily diet and put its paste on your face as face pack twice in a week. It helps to keep your skin wrinkle free for much longer time. Even its peels are also good to rub on the face and hands for healthy skin. Therefore, after eating papaya, don’t throw the peels; use their inner side to rub on your skin and see the results after one week.
(Actually, both the enzymes- papain and latex is extracted from papaya. Papain is obtained by cutting the skin of the unripe but almost mature papaya and then collecting and drying the latex which flows from the cuts.)
8. Good for Eyes:
Papayas are rich in Vitamin A and flavonoids like beta-carotene and lute-in which are very important to keep your eyes healthy. These nutrients prevent the mucous membranes of the eyes from any damage and keep healthy.
Papayas are beneficial to reduce the risk of developing Macular Degeneration. Macular Degeneration is a disease of the eyes which results in blurred vision. This is the disease of old age and in this condition, the ocular cells become degenerated. It can cause blindness also. Therefore eat papaya in breakfast or at evening to keep your vision healthy even in old age.
9. Great Source of Immunity:
Papaya (papita) acts as an excellent immunity booster because of its vitamin C, A, B, and K. The antioxidants present in papaya play an important role in improving the immunity system of the people. It is great for the bear and tear of body tissues. A medium-sized papaya can fulfill more than 200% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C which is quite good for immune system.
10. Relieve Menstrual Pain:
Papain, an enzyme of papayas, helps in easing flow during menstrual periods of women. Therefore, women, who experience menstrual pain, should eat two hundred grams of ripe papaya at least for one month.
Papayas (papita) are tremendous fruit and anyone can eat it. Even diabetics can eat it because papayas are the fruit that is sweet in taste but very low in sugar content.
- However, you should avoid excessive use of papayas because they contain fructose. It may cause carotenemia- the yellowing of soles and palms; otherwise it is harmless.
- Papaya is considered as hot fruit, therefore pregnant ladies should not eat this fruit; it may cause abortion.
- Unripe Papaya releases a latex fluid that may cause irritation and allergic reaction in some people. It can cause pain in stomach and intestine.
- The black seeds of the papaya contain traces carpine or carparine. Carpine is a potentially toxic substance which can cause paralysis or cardiac depression.