Papayas are spherical or pear-shaped fruits. Their flesh is a rich yellowish-orange color with black, round seeds inside. These seeds are enclosed in a gelatinous-like substance. The fruit, as well as the other parts of the papaya tree, contain papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins. This enzyme is especially concentrated in the fruit when it is unripe. The vitamin C in papaya increases as the papaya ripens. The carbohydrate content of the papaya is an inverted sugar that is usually found in fruits and flowers. This is the type of sugar, that the bees use to make honey – it needs no digestion, as it is ready for utilization as soon as it is absorbed.
Botanical Name – Carica papaya
Common Name – flaxseed, linseed
Hindi – Papita
Sanskrit – Karkati
Tamil – Pappali
Health Benefits of Papaya
Papaya is an excellent source of vitamin C, and vitamin A, and a good source of fibre and minerals like potassium. It is also a rich source of antioxidants like carotenes and flavonoids. The papaya has remarkable health benefits and has been known for its medicinal properties since ancient times. It helps in digestion and is one of the most easily digested food. It helps build immunity, is an excellent tonic, and is energy-giving. Research into papaya has started confirming what the ancient cultures told us.
Papaya Health Benefits for the Heart
Papaya may be very helpful for the prevention of atherosclerosis. Since papayas are an excellent source of vitamin C as well as a good source of vitamin E and vitamin A, which are very powerful antioxidants, they may help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, which builds up in blood vessel walls, forming dangerous plaques that finally causes heart attacks or strokes. Being high in fibre, also helps decrease cholesterol. Recent studies have led to the belief that papaya may prevent diabetic heart disease.
Papaya Health Benefits for Cancer
The nutrients in papaya such as folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene have been shown to help in the prevention of colon cancer. The fibre in the papaya is able to bind to cancer-causing toxins in the colon and keep them away from the healthy colon cells. The nutrients in papaya work together, to protect the colon cells from free radical damage. Thus eating papaya reduces the risk of colon cancer.
Eating lycopene-rich fruits, such as papaya, and drinking green tea regularly may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, says research published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Jian L, Lee AH, et al). The study has shown that the men drinking the greenest tea were found to have an 86% reduced risk of prostate cancer compared to those drinking the least amount of green tea. The same association was found between the consumption of lycopene-rich food (tomatoes, watermelon, papaya). Men who eat more lycopene-rich foods were 82% less likely to have prostate cancer compared to those eating less of the lycopene-rich foods. Having both green tea and lycopene-rich foods would give stronger protection against this type of cancer, the researchers said. Papaya is a good source of lycopene.
Papaya Health Benefits for Inflammation
Papaya contains protein-digesting enzymes in the latex which are carried throughout the plant, called papain and chymopapain. These enzymes are said to help lower inflammation and improve healing from burns. Also, the antioxidants found in papaya, like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene help reduce inflammation. Studies show that people who consume fewer amounts of vitamin C-rich foods were more than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consumed high amounts of it. This is why these nutrients help people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, to reduce pain and inflammation.
Papaya Health Benefits for the Eyes
Studies indicate that eating 3 or more servings of papaya fruit per day may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), which is the main cause of loss of vision in old adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.
Digestive and Intestinal Health Benefits of Papaya
The ripe fruit of papaya, when eaten regularly, corrects constipation, bleeding piles, and diarrhoea. The enzyme papain found in papaya is said to be very powerful for digestion. It helps the body’s enzymes to assimilate the maximum nutrition from the food that we eat. Papain found in papaya is beneficial when there is an excess mucus in the stomach, and for intestinal irritation.
Papaya Seeds Health benefits
Most of us don’t know that the big black seeds in papaya, are actually edible. They have a peppery flavor, and can be chewed whole or blended into a dressing. Papaya seeds are rich in a substance called caricin, which is a very effective home remedy for expelling roundworms. The juice of the papaya seeds is beneficial in treating dyspepsia and bleeding piles. They are also said to be beneficial in treating cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcoholism. Grind the juice to obtain a tbsp of juice. Mix this with about 10 drops of fresh lime juice. This should be consumed for about a month, to treat the liver.
Health Benefits of Papaya Leaves
Papaya Tree from wikimedia.org
University of Florida researcher Nam Dang, and colleagues in Japan have documented papaya’s anticancer effect against a broad range of lab-grown tumors, including cancers of the cervix, breast, liver, lung, and pancreas. The researchers used an extract made from dried papaya leaves. The anticancer effects were stronger when cells received larger doses of the tea. Dang and his colleagues also documented that papaya leaf extract boosts the production of key signaling molecules called Th1-type cytokines. This suggests that it is possible to use the immune system to fight cancers. The papaya extract did not have any toxic effects on normal cells, avoiding a common and often devastating consequence of many cancer therapies. More on health benefits of papaya leaves
Papaya leaf extracts are said to help in low platelet count related to dengue. A study by Dr. Sanath Hettige of Srilanka indicates that papaya leaf extract helps to “normalize clotting and repair liver damage caused by dengue”. Dr. Hettige’s clinical trials of about 70 dengue patients found that the patients who were given papaya leaf extract recovered fully within two days without hospital admission. He says that it is important to take papaya leaf juice in the early stages of dengue before the disease progresses and damages vital organs. Papaya leaves for low platelet count in Dengue
Papaya Home Remedies
- For skin diseases like ringworm, apply a paste of ground papaya seeds. The juice of raw papaya is an effective home remedy for many skin ailments like corns, warts, pimples, and swellings.
- The unripe papaya helps treat menstrual irregularities and is beneficial for stimulating proper menstrual flow.
- Fresh juice of the raw papaya when mixed with honey and applied over inflamed tonsils in diphtheria, stops the infection from spreading.
- For fungal infections, grind dried papaya seeds to a paste, and apply. Take raw papaya slices and gently rub on the affected area, and wash after some time. This is an excellent home remedy for fungal infections.
- A papaya pack works wonders for acne and blackheads. Take the pulp of over ripe papaya and apply it over your face. Avoid the eyes while applying. Gently rub it into the skin and leave for 15-20 mins. Wash with lukewarm water and pat dry. Massage sesame seed oil or coconut oil into the skin. Leave for an hour and wash with warm water. Do this treatment for 3-5 days and repeat the treatment every 6-8 weeks.
- For intestinal worms, cut a slice of unripe papaya, and collect the juice. To a tbsp of this juice, add a tbsp of honey and mix it in one-fourth to half a cup of boiling water. Cool it and have it one gulp. After an hour or two, have a tbsp of castor oil with tsp of lime juice. This is for adults only.