Papaya is the fruit available throughout the year, and people love to consume it both when ripe and unripe. It has a vibrant orange color when fully mature and is green when immature. The plant bears fruit after a period of 9 to 12 months of sowing the seeds.
It is consumed as raw fruit or can be used in salads, smoothies, and juices. It has different names in different parts of the globe which include papaya, papaw, pawpaw, and tree melon.
Seeds and Leaves of Papaya
Besides fruit, each part of the papaya plant like flowers, leaves, and roots can do wonders in the food, medicine, and cosmetic industries owing to the valuable nutrients present in them. Black seeds in papaya fruit are edible and have a sharp peppery taste which is grounded for use as black pepper.
Nutritional Components of Papaya
The fruit is rich in nutrients inevitable for sound health. Nutrients of the papaya fruit include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, sodium, magnesium, and potassium as well as fiber, antioxidants, carotenoids, and several beneficial enzymes.
Nutritional Value of Papaya
The nutritional value of papaya fruit per 100 g comprises proteins 0.61 g, fat 0.14 g, carbohydrates 9.81 g, sugar 5.90 g, fiber 1.8 g, and energy 39 kcal. The vitamin and mineral components include vitamin A 328µg (41%), vitamin C 61.8 mg (74%), potassium 257 mg (51%), and some other nutrients.
Health Benefits of Papaya Fruit
The wide range of essential nutrients has made papaya recognized worldwide for its nutritional benefits, some of which are given below.
1. Helps in Weight Loss
The fruit has low calories with high fiber and water content. Water and fiber content provide a feeling of being full, which cuts down the consumption of food by the person, which helps in weight loss effectively.
2. Strengthen Immunity
The fruit in raw form is loaded with vitamins A, B, C, and K; all of these play a vital role as an immunity booster.
It has a powerhouse of antioxidants and also anti-inflammatory enzymes called papain, the cumulative effect of all is necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system.
3. Better Cardiovascular Condition
Papaya fruit is a good store of fiber, Vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants that prevent the deposition of cholesterol in arteries keeping them healthy with smooth blood flow. Pectin (a starch in fruits) from papaya also reduces cholesterol by increasing viscosity in the intestine, which in turn prevents the absorption of cholesterol from food, maintaining low cholesterol levels in the blood.
4. Improves Digestion
The enzyme papain found in papaya promotes the digestion of food, especially proteins. Papain makes it particularly significant for dyspeptic patients who cannot digest wheat proteins. Papain improves the condition of digestion to a great value. Papain, high water, and fiber also prevent constipation and promote smooth bowel movement.
5. Beneficial for Diabetics
Low sugar and glycaemic index while high natural antioxidants make papaya a perfect diet for people with diabetes regulating blood sugar levels.
People with diabetes can easily succumb to severe ailments like heart or nervous damage due to irregular blood sugar levels. Papaya fruit can prevent them from these diseases by controlling their blood glucose levels.
6. Improves Excretory System
Kidneys are the main organs for excretion responsible for the removal of nitrogenous wastes from our body produced during metabolism. Sometimes deposition of these wastes in kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract may cause serious problems resulting in the reduction of filtration of nitrogenous wastes.
It gives rise to high levels of uric acid in the blood. The condition may be alleviated with papaya fruit and its seeds. Potassium in fruit cleanses the toxins in the urinary tract preventing the deposition of uric acid in the body.
Seeds of papaya contain alkaloids (natural organic nitrogen compounds) called Carpaine which distill the toxins by preparing chelate (a compound with metal ions) which is easy to excrete out of the body.
7. Improves Eyes Health
Papaya has numerous benefits for our overall bodily health, and eyes are not an exception in this regard. The fruit is packed with antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E, and carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are essential for vision protection.
Vitamins A, C, and E are useful for the blood vessels in the eyes, ensuring proper eye health. Beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A present in papaya may improve night vision, and the ability of our eyes to see in low-light conditions.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin filter harmful radiations to stop their approach to the retina where they can cause damage. In short, papaya is the food for eyesight improvement.
8. Improves Bone Health
Papaya contains a generous amount of vitamin K and calcium. Calcium intake is useless if it is not absorbed in bones. Vitamin K helps in the fusion of calcium in bones, making them strong and reducing its loss from the body during excretion.
The papaya fruit also provides protection against arthritis which is inflammation in joints. It carries an enzyme called chymopapain, which has anti-inflammatory properties. This enzyme works in collaboration with vitamin C to combat arthritis.
According to a study in Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, a peer-reviewed journal, vitamin C plays a significant role in bone health. The findings suggested that people who do not meet the nutritional value of vitamin C are three times more likely to report arthritis, compared to people who regularly eat fruits with vitamin C.
9. Improves Hair Health
Papaya is a natural hair care product. It comprises vitamins, minerals, and enzymes which are essential for healthy hair. It is a storehouse of potassium, the deficiency of which may cause baldness.
Vitamin A, found in abundance in this fruit, supports sebum production, a secretion from the scalp which keeps the hair moisturized. It is useful in preventing dandruff too. Dandruff in hair is caused mainly by a fungus.
The antifungal properties of its seeds are excellent for rectifying this problem. Papaya is a diverse fruit because it can be used either on its own or can be mixed with other beneficial ingredients to make a natural hair conditioning mask. Papaya extract is widely used in the hair care products industry.
10. Improves Skin Health
Papaya benefits for the skin are challenging to discuss in some words. The carotenoids in papaya prevent the decomposition of elastin and collagen, which keeps the skin tight preventing wrinkles and signs of aging.
The enzymes and antioxidants give papaya an advantage for dry skin, keeping it hydrated as well as moisturized. It is replete with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) which remove layers of dead cells from skin leaving the skin fair and radiant.
The pulp of the fruit is a natural remedy for pigmentation, scars, and some skin diseases such as eczema. Papaya juice can be equally beneficial.
11. Anti-carcinogenic Effects
The fruit in the raw green form is sufficient to destroy cancer cells. It is an exceptionally high source of antioxidants which eliminates free radicals in the body. Free radicals accelerate the growth of cancer cells.
The leaves and black seeds from ripe fruit have higher anti-oxidation capacity than pulp and skin portions. Papaya leaf extract may help in treating different cancers like breast cancer, liver cancer, blood cancer, stomach cancer, and lung cancer.
Potent cancer-fighting compounds lycopene, a carotenoid in papaya, and organo-sulfur compounds called isothiocyanate to inhibit the development of cancerous cells through multiple mechanisms.
Cancer cells have a fibrin coating due to which they remain undetected for long periods. The enzyme papain breaks down this coat which helps in cancer diagnosis.
12. Plays a Role to Reduce Stress
Papaya is a great way to get Vitamin C which plays a vital role in the production of cortisol hormone to respond to danger or stress situations. It also counteracts the condition of oxidative stress which causes some neurological problems like Alzheimer’s disease.
Oxidative stress is mainly produced due to an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Papaya extract regulates this balance.
In a Nutshell
Papaya is a magical fruit with a wide range of nutritional benefits and also medicinal characteristics. Christopher Columbus rightly called it the “fruit of Angels” due to the countless benefits of its fruit, seeds, and leaves. Papaya is a delicious and nutritious food to incorporate into an everyday diet for good health.