Papaya is a soft tropical fruit with a yellowish-orange color. This species of fruit – which belongs to the Caricaceae family – is round and plump and comes in larger and smaller sizes.
Papaya is native to tropical America, with early origins in Mexico and South America. The fruit was brought in the caribbean by indigenous people, and eventually made its way to Europe and the Pacific Islands before being introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s.
Today, Hawaii is the only U.S. state to commercially produce papaya. Most papayas are from either Hawaii or Mexico. Mexican papayas can weigh up to 10 pounds (lb) and grow more than 15 inches long. Hawaiian papayas are smaller, averaging about 1lb. (1)
Other Nutritional facts for Papaya:
. 2.7 g dietary fiber, or 10 percent DV
. 31 milligrams (mg) calcium, 0r 3.1 percent DV
. 33 mg magnesium, 8 percent DV
. 286 mg potassium, 6.08 percent DV
. 0.13 mg zinc, 0.9 percent DV
. 95.6 mg vitamin C, 106.2 percent DV
. 58 micrograms (mcg) folate, 14.5 percent DV
. 1,492 international units (IU) vitamin A, 30 percent DV
. 0.47 mg vitamin E, 2.4 percent DV
. 4.1 mcg vitamin K, 5.1, percent DV
May Help Reduce The Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that kills brain cells. It causes memory problems and a gradual loss of intellectual abilities. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown. But it’s believed that oxidative stress plays a role in the condition. This is an imbalance in the body between antioxidants and free radicals, which are molecules that cause cell damage.
A study found that extract of fermented papaya powder may help counteract the effect of oxidative stress in people living with Alzheimer’s disease and slow the progression of the illness, though the possible effect of whole papaya have not been studies for this benefits.
Help Protect Against Certain Types of Cancer
Free radicals and oxidative stress are closely related to different types of cancer. Because papayas are rich in antioxidants, the fruit can help protect cells from damage and lower the risk of cancer.
A lower cancer risk is also due to papaya’s lycopene, which has anti-cancer properties. Lycopene is a carotenoid and natural pigment that gives some vegetables and fruits their color.
Additionally, papaya contains the antioxidant beta-carotene. One study found that beta-carotene offers protection from prostate cancer
Boosts your Immune System
As an excellent source of vitamin C, eating papaya can boost your immune system and protect your body from a variety of illnesses and infection.
Potentially Protects the Heart
Papaya contains vitamin C, potassium, antioxidants, and fiber, which helps keep your arteries healthy and promotes blood flow. This can also lower cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Adding more papaya to the diet may boost your heart health. Studies show that fruits high in lycopene and vitamin C may help prevent heart disease. The antioxidants in papaya may protect your heart and enhance the protective effects of “good” HDL cholesterol.
In one study, people who took a fermented papaya supplement for 14 weeks had less inflammation and a better ratio of “bad” LDL to “good” HDL than people given a placebo
An improved ration is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Aid in Lowering Blood Sugar
If you have type 2 diabetes and are looking for ways to help lower your A1C (a two- to three-month average of your blood sugar levels), papaya may help you achieve your goal. Some studies have found that papaya has a hypoglycemic effect on the body, decreasing blood glucose levels.
Plays a Role in Fighting Inflammation
Papaya may also function as a natural painkiller because of the enzyme papain. This enzyme increases the body’s production of cytokines that help regulate inflammation. The fruit may reduce pain caused by arthritis and similar conditions.
Chronic inflammation is at the root of many diseases, and unhealthy food and lifestyle choices can drive the inflammatory process. Studies show that antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables like papaya help reduce inflammatory markers.
One study noted that men who increased their intake of fruits and vegetables high carotenoids had significant decrease in CPR, a particular inflammatory marker
May Help Protect the Eyes
Papaya contains a good amount of the nutrient lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which can protect the eyes and help prevent eye diseases such as age-related mucular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two antioxidants used in the eyes.
The high water content of papaya can also help improve digestion by reducing bloating and easing constipation. The fiber in this fruit also encourages regular bowel activity, which may help lower the risk of colon cancer
The papain enzyme in papaya can make protein easier to digest. People in the tropics consider papaya to be a remedy for constipation and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In one study, people who took a papaya-based formula for 40 days had significant inprovement in constipation and bloating.
The seeds, leaves and roots have also been shown to treat ulcers in animals and humans.
Has Powerful Antioxidant effects
Free radicals are reactive molecules created during your body’s metabolism. They can promote oxidative stress, which can lead to disease.
Antioxidants, including the carotenoids found in papayas, can neutralize free radicals. Studies note that fermented papaya can reduce oxidative stress in older adults and people with prediabetes, mild hypothyroidism and liver disease.
Also, many researchers believe that excessive free radicals in the brain are an important factor in Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, people with Alzheimer’s given a fermented papaya extract for six months experienced a 40% drop in a biomarker which indicates oxidative damage to DNA – and is also linked to aging and cancer.
The reduction in oxidative stress is attributed to papaya’s lycopene content and ability to remove excess iron, which is known to produce free radicals.
Research suggests that the lycopene in papaya can reduce cancer risk. It may also be beneficial for people who are being treated for cancer. Papaya may work by reducing free radicals that contribute to cancer.
Additionally, papaya may have some unique effects not shared by other fruits. Among 14 fruits and vegetables with known antioxidant properties, only papaya demonstrated anticancer activity in breast cancer cells.
In a small study in older adults with inflammation and precancerous stomach conditions, a fermented papaya preparation reduced oxidative damage.
Protects Against Skin Damage
In addition to keeping your body healthy, papaya can also help your skin look more toned and youthful. Excessive free radical activity is believed to be responsible for much of the wrinkling, sagging and other skin damage that occurs with age.
The vitamin C and lycopene in papaya protect your skin and may help reduce these signs of aging.
In another, older women who consumed a mixture of lycopene, vitamin C and other antioxidants for 14 weeks had a visible and measurable reduction in depth of facial wrinkles.
Use Papaya to Help Exfoliate your Skin
The flesh of papaya can also exfoliate skin. Slice a piece of papaya and rub the flesh over your face to help remove dead skin cells. Wait five minutes, and then rinse your skin. Exfoliation helps moisturize and soften skin, and it can also help reduce signs of aging and skin spots.