Papaya used to be considered as an exotic fruit but now it’s widely consumed not just for its taste but the health benefits. The fruit is cultivated in tropical conditions but now it’s available everywhere, and popularity has increased due to its sweet taste and beautiful color.
Aside from being tasty however, papaya has several health benefits such as preventing diabetes, cancer, heart disease and aiding in digestion as well. In addition papaya can reduce blood pressure and heal wounds faster.
- Excellent Source of Vitamins
Papayas are rich in vitamin C and provide 22% of your daily requirements. In addition to vitamin C, papaya contains fiber, pantothetic acid, copper, magnesium, vitamin A and foliate. Apart from this, papaya is also rich in lycopene, vitamin K, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthan, alpha and beta carotene and the B vitamins.
Along with these vitamins and nutrients, papaya is also a powerful antioxidant that eliminates toxins in your organs. In a study at UCLA, researchers learned that consuming fruits rich in vitamins reduces the risk of developing obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Papaya has choline, an important nutrient that nurtures your body as you sleep, and it improves memory, learning and muscle movement. Choline also maintains cellular membrane structure and plays a vital role in nerve impulse transmission. Studies have also shown that choline reduces chronic inflammation and minimizes fat absorption.
- Age Related Muscular Degeneration
Papaya contains zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that provides several health benefits. In a study published at Medical News Today, researchers discovered that zeaxanthin protects your eyes from blue light rays and plays an important role in preventing macular degeneration.
A daily serving of papaya has also been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration and slows down the progression of other age related diseases. If mashed papaya is used topically, it stimulates the healing of wounds and prevents wounded or burned areas from being infected. According to experts at Cambridge, it’s the papain and chymopapain proteolytic enzymes responsible for this.
Papaya is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene. In an article published at Medicine News Today, it was shown that antioxidant beta-carotene has anti-carcinogenic properties, and most notably it’s effective in preventing colon cancer. In a study among young men, researchers found out those foods rich in beta-carotene makes you less vulnerable to different types of cancer. This was first highlighted in a report conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition and has since been verified by other studies.
- Bone Health
Because papaya is rich in vitamin K, you’re less likely to suffer from bone fractures and other related injuries. With sufficient levels of vitamin K you can expect an improvement in your general well being and furthermore, vitamin K functions as a bone matrix problem modifier so it improves your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
The same Harvard study that revealed the cancer fighting properties of papaya also suggested that the fruit is effective in preventing diabetes. In the study, those with type 1 diabetes on a high fiber diet saw a reduction in their blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetics reported improvements in their blood sugar, insulin and lipids levels.
The key ingredient, researchers found out, is fiber, and a medium sized papaya contains 4.7 grams of fiber. Ideally men should have 30-38 g/day and 21 to 25 g a day for women, so papaya will provide a substantial amount.
Other Health Benefits
Papaya has an enzyme called papain that improves your digestion and is often used as a meat tenderizer. In addition, papaya’s high fiber and water content prevents constipation and leads to a healthier digestive tract. The series of studies at conducted at Harvard showed that papaya’s fiber, vitamin and potassium content reduces your risk of heart disease.
This finding should not be surprising because increasing your potassium intake and reducing the amount of sodium you consume makes you less vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases.
How Papaya Should You Eat?
The more papaya you eat the better, but you don’t need to consume a lot to reap the benefits. A medium sized papaya contains 2 grams of protein, 30 grams of carbohydrate and 120 calories.