What Is Papaya Good For?

The Power of Papaya
Botanical name: Carica papaya

Papaya Nutrition Facts

Believed to be native to southern Mexico and Central America, papaya is a fruit cultivated in most tropical regions. Today, Hawaii is one of the principal growers of papaya in the U.S.. Other countries that successfully cultivate papaya include the Philippines, India and Ceylon.1

One way to check for papaya’s ripeness is by pressing your thumb into the flesh.3 In addition, red papaya is ripe when the skin green-yellow, and should have a bright orange-red flesh. Yellow papaya, on the other hand, is ripe when both the skin and the flesh turn yellow-orange.4 Recommended ways to eat papaya includes drinking its juice, which is sometimes added to other natural fruit juices because of its pleasing taste, but it's also wonderful in salads, salsa, and, of course, all by itself.5

Each country that cultivates papaya has their own variety, developed from various breeding programs. The table below provides an oversight on the most popular selections:2

Australia

Improved Petersen

Guinea Gold

Sunnbank

Richter/Arline

Americas (Mexico)

Verde

Gialla

Cera

Chincona

Hawaii

Kapoho Solo

Sunrise

Waimanalo

Rainbow

Florida

Cariflora

Betty

Homestead

South Africa

Hortus Gold

Honey Gold

Kaapmuiden

Venezuela

Paraguanera

Roja

Barbados

Wakefield

Graeme 5 and 7

Trinidad

Santa Cruz Giant

Cedro

India

Coorg Honey Dew

Coimbitor 2

Indonesia

Semangka

Dampit

Malaysia

Eksotika

Sekaki

Thailand

Sai-nampueng

Khaek Dam

Cuba

Maradol

Dominican Republic

Cartagena

Taiwan

Tainung No. 5

 

Philippines

Cavite/Sinta

 

Health Benefits of Papaya

Vitamin C is one of the strong points of papaya, providing 144 percent of the daily recommended value per serving,6 which is great as an infection fighter as well as a free radical-scavenging antioxidant. This nutrient has various functions throughout your body. Various studies indicate that increased vitamin C consumption may help battle high blood pressure,7 reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels,8 significantly lower the risk of developing gout,9 improve iron absorption10 and boost the production of immune system cells.11

Other vitamins include vitamin A, which may help protect your eyes from age-related decline,12 lower the risk of certain cancers13,14,15,16 and strengthen the skeletal system.17 Papaya provides folate, 18 and good amounts of fiber and potassium, a cell and body fluid component that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.19

The B vitamins in papayas such as folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B1) are called "essential" because they're required by your body, but not produced by your body, so they need an outside source to provide what is needed to metabolize - that's why including foods like papaya in your diet is important.20

Other studies have shown that papaya has antioxidant effects, which may help lower the damage of oxidative stress in the elderly and those affected with prediabetes, mild hypothyroidism and liver disease.21,22,23,24 In other studies, papaya has been found to help reduce inflammatory markers throughout your body.25,26,27,28

Papayas contain 212 amino acids and several enzymes, including papain, a proteolytic enzyme that may help ease muscle soreness.29 Papain may also help relieve irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and heartburn.30

However, it’s important that you consume papayas in moderation, as they contain fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.

Two genetically modified varieties of papaya were introduced to Hawaii in the 1990s, making papaya the first GM food to be introduced to the food supply in the U.S. For more information, read “Everything You HAVE TO KNOW about Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods.”

Papaya Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 43  
Total Fat 0.26 g 0%
Saturated Fat 0.081 g 0%
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 8 mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 10.82 g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1.7 g 7%
Sugar 7.82 g  
Protein 0.47 g  
Vitamin A 950 UI Vitamin C 60.9 mg  
Calcium 20 mg Iron 0.25 mg  

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Studies Done on Papaya

A fermented papaya preparation was found to have wound-healing properties in one analysis, which researchers concluded would be especially beneficial for diabetes patients.31 Another study involved the successful formulation of a dual-action cleanser/debrider with antibacterial properties from the papaya-derived enzyme papain, which researchers reported might be beneficial for wound management.32

Another study indicated anticancer activity in papaya seeds and pulp, due to the presence of benzyl glucosinolate compounds. However, while the BG compounds in the seeds were shown to have similar strength at every stage of the ripening process, the pulp was found to contain more of this compound before maturation of the papaya, to the point that it nearly disappeared after the fruit was fully ripe. Tests confirmed higher concentration of cancer inhibition with higher presence of BG.33

Papaya Healthy Recipes:
Zingy Fruity Salsa

Papaya Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

1 cup diced fresh mango

1 cup diced fresh pineapple

1 cup diced papaya

1/2 large red onion, finely diced

4 to 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh mint 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced 1 teaspoon salt

Procedure:

  1. Toss the first five ingredients together in a large bowl. Add lime juice, olive oil, and salt, and stir well. Sprinkle with chopped mint leaves before serving.

Papaya Fun Facts

Papayas were first referenced in 1526 by the Spanish chronicler Oviedo, after discovering this fruit on the Caribbean coasts of Panama and Colombia. Today, current worldwide output is estimated at 6 million tons, with India being the largest papaya producer at 3 million tons.34

Summary

Sometimes thought of as an exotic fruit, papayas are native to tropical areas, including Hawaii, the only place they're grown in the U.S. This sweet, succulent fruit contains about 144 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C, known for its infection-fighting abilities, and vitamin A for healthy skin, mucous membranes, and vision. Other nutrients in papaya include folate, dietary fiber, potassium, essential B vitamins, and several flavonoids, including beta-carotene, shown to help protect against lung and mouth cancer.

One of the most important ingredients in papaya is the enzyme papain, shown to be effective against a number of stomach and intestinal problems, from expelling parasites to easing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.


References: