Fruits are a wonderful gift of nature and different colours in fruits mean different attributes. Papaya, or Carica papaya, the deep-red-orange coloured native of Central America is one scrumptious fruit that comes packed to the skin with nutrients. C.papaya is a succulent herbaceous plant that can bear fruit for about 20 years. Almost every part of the plant can be consumed: fruits, roots, flowers or leaves.
The fruit’s juicy and delicious tasting pulp is soft to bite and the aroma is fragrant. Christopher Columbus called it the ‘fruit of angels’ and our own former Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, has to have papaya scoops every day in his diet. The reasons are not far to seek.
Papaya is chock full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fibre so beneficial for the body’s metabolism and health. There is vitamin C, Vitamin B (in the form of folic and pantothenic acid), potassium and magnesium. All these help keep our body functions fine-tuned right through the blood, heart, bone marrow, brain and DNA.
1 Small Papaya (140 Grams) Contains:
- Calories: 54.6 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 13.7 grams
- Fats: 0.2 grams
- Omega-3 Fatty acids: 35.0 mg
- Omega-6 Fatty acids: 8.4 mg
- Fibre: 3 grams
- Protein and Amino acids: 0.9 gram
- Vitamin A: 1531 IU
- Vitamin C: 86.5 mg
- Vitamin E: 1 mg
- Vitamin K: 3.6 mcg
- Folic acid (Vitamin B9): 53.2 mcg
- Pantothenic Acid: 0.3 mg
- Choline: 8.5 mg
- Calcium: 33.6 mg
- Magnesium: 14.0 mg
- Phosphorous: 360 mg
- Sodium: 4.2 mg
- Trace amounts of Iron, Zinc, Copper, Manganese and Selenium
Multi-Properties of Carica Papaya
Carotenoids are the antioxidants in papaya, among which lycopene is highest in concentration. It also contains two very biologically active enzymes called chymopapain and papain that are very useful in treating digestive disorders. In fact, grated raw papaya is often used to tenderise meats.
Papaya is known to be anti-microbial, anti-malarial, antihelminthic, anti-amoebic, anti-tumour, anti-cancer, anti-fungal, hepato-protective, antifertility, antiseptic, pesticidal, anti-ageing, and many more.
Not just the fruits but the bark, leaves, flowers and roots are used. Fruits aid digestion and relieve constipation; the raw fruits have antiseptic properties.
The root juice helps in alleviating cough, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems. Papaya leaf tea decoction aids digestion, weight loss and blood pressure.
Now, for a little peep at the health benefits of carica papaya:
1. Pulp to Rid Skin of Blemishes
The skin constantly faces harmful effects of pollution and other atmospheric pollutants. As one age, especially, the skin’s tone, colour and health increasingly succumbs to the onslaught of the elements, and it shows. Papaya’s enzymes and alpha-hydroxy acids have the ability to halt further deterioration, even improving skin health. So, imperfections and blemishes such as pimples, acne, and brown patches or pigmentations (liver spots as they call them) get greatly alleviated by the application of papaya directly on the skin. Simply apply grated papaya twice a day on the face and leave it for 20-25 minutes before rinsing off with warm water. The results, after a few days, will be nothing short of spectacular.
2. Get Rid of Liver Disorders
Offset those hepatic problems like cirrhosis of the liver by consuming papaya with a dash of lime juice. Or, have papaya in juice form of about 20 ml with 5 ml of lime juice. Or, take three scoops (or cubes) of the fruit sprinkled with the same amount (20 ml) of lime juice. In a month or two, the liver’s condition will improve.
3. Blood Pressure Regulator
Besides vitamin C and a good number of amino acids, papaya is rich in cardiac glycosides that help power heartbeats; and in potassium, a mineral essential for a healthy heart and safe blood pressure levels. A few cubes of papaya a day along with other fruits is a delicious option to keep the heart in great form. Tea prepared from the green leaves also helps in the treatment of high blood pressure.
4. Papaya Seeds Help Remove Gut Parasites
Parasites are those creatures that love to infest our guts and majorly cause of much of our ailments. Infestation can lead to grave problems like organ failure, blindness, brain damage and even death. It is, therefore, essential to consume foods given by nature that not only combat these parasites but eliminate them altogether. These foods do this by making our guts so uncongenial for parasites that they naturally get destroyed.
Papaya seeds are a great way to get rid of intestinal parasites as they possess excellent anti-amoebic and anti-helminthic properties. It is the alkaloid carpaine present in the seeds that kill off the parasites. Eat the seeds by scooping up right from the fruit itself. Or, powder dried seeds take them along with honey.
Papaya seeds not only eliminate intestinal parasites, they also help in maintain liver, kidney, joint and digestive health. The enzyme papain is responsible for aiding digestion by breaking down tough proteins.
5. Get Rid of Free Radicals
The antioxidant properties of carotenoids in papaya are great for reducing what is known as oxidative stress, which the free radicals effect, when there are too many of them. The compound responsible is lycopene. It removes the excess iron that causes oxidative damage to DNA, an effect that may lead to cancer and premature ageing. This action of lycopene is of great help in halting the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Reduce Risk of Cancer
Again, lycopene is found to reduce the risk of cancer by its ability to fight the free radicals in the body thereby reducing oxidative damage to the cells. In fact, studies have shown that the antioxidant properties of papaya actually demonstrated marked activity against breast cancer and slowing down the progress of other cancers such as colon cancer, prostate cancer and cancer of the cervix.
7. Leaves of Papaya Against Dengue Fever
The leaves of papaya contain natural compounds acetogenins that are found to be extremely effective in preventing malarial diseases especially dengue fever. This type of fever is caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito which breeds in clear water. The patient suffers from a reduced number of blood platelets. One method of cure is by boiling the leaves in water till the water reduces to half. Another way is to crush and squeeze the juice out of the leaves and drink.
8. Stay Healthy, Stay Youthful With Carica Papaya
The incredibly delicious and healthful papaya fruit can be taken in so many ways: cut it lengthwise, cube it, or blend it. Have it as an appetizer, a salad or a dessert. Cook the raw fruit with your stews or lentils or make a salad of it.
The versatile papaya is so easy to obtain and, seeing its mighty antioxidant properties, it may be the best bet against so many diseases that plague life today. Staying healthy and youthful is never easier: have a slice of papaya, or a swig of its juice, or gulp a cup of papaya leaf blended tea!