Papaya, also known as pawpaw or papaw, is widely known for its sweet taste and vibrant color. This soft and fleshy fruit can be used in a variety of culinary applications. However, not many are aware of the numerous benefits that come with consuming this fruit.
Papayas offer several health benefits that make them highly recommended among health experts. They’re loaded with antioxidants that counter the effects of free radicals, protecting you from various kinds of diseases. Read on as we discuss the nutritional and health benefits of eating papaya.
Papayas are shaped in a spherical to cylindrical form like pears and range from 3 to 30 inches in length. They generally have green-colored skin when unripe and orange when ripe. The flesh may also be orange, yellow, or red.
According to the USDA, 145g of raw papaya contains:
In addition to the nutrients listed above, papaya packs a healthy dose of lycopene antioxidants. In addition, your body absorbs this antioxidant better from papaya than from most other fruits and veggies.
Because of its high nutritional content, papaya provides a variety of health benefits, including:
The lycopene in papaya may reduce your risk of cancer, according to a 2014 review. The researchers suggest that papaya’s lycopene content kills cancer cells and suppresses the growth of tumors.
A study also found that papaya may be beneficial for people who are being treated for cancer. The tropical fruit works by reducing the effects of free radicals that contribute to cancer.
What’s more, papaya may have some health benefits against cancer not shared by other fruits. Researchers found that among 14 fruits and vegetables with antioxidant properties, only papaya showed beneficial effects against breast cancer cells.
Papaya doesn’t just keep your body healthy. This tasty fruit also supports your skin, making it look more toned and youthful. Scientists believe that excessive activity of free radicals is the primary cause of skin damage such as wrinkling and sagging.
Papaya’s vitamin C and lycopene may protect your skin from damage, reducing the signs of aging. One study found that taking lycopene supplements for 10 to 12 weeks decreased skin redness caused by prolonged exposure to the sun.
In another study, health experts found women who consumed a mixture of lycopene, vitamin C, and a few other antioxidants enjoyed a visible reduction in the depth of facial wrinkles.
Papaya may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that damages brain cells. Alzheimer’s causes memory problems, eventually leading to a loss of intellectual abilities.
The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease remains unknown, but scientists believe that oxidative stress plays a role in the condition. A study found that extracts obtained from fermented papaya powder may counter the effects of oxidative stress among people with Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers also believe that the fruit may slow the progression of the illness. The reduction in oxidative stress is attributed to papaya’s high lycopene content and the fruit’s ability to remove excess iron, which produces free radicals.
Adding papaya to your diet may support your heart health. Studies have shown that fruits packed with lycopene and vitamin C may prevent heart disease. Furthermore, the antioxidants in papaya may protect your heart by enhancing the effects of the “good” HDL cholesterol.
One study found that people who consumed fermented papaya supplements for 14 weeks suffered less inflammation and had a better ratio of “good” HDL to “bad” LDL cholesterol than people who took a placebo.
Papaya also contains folic acid, an essential vitamin that converts the amino acid homocysteine into a less harmful form. High levels of homocysteine have been associated with heart disease.
The papain enzyme in papaya makes it easier for your body to digest protein. For a long time, people in the tropics have used papaya as a remedy for constipation, bloating, and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Papaya’s digestion-aiding attributes have been associated with its high water content. The fiber in the fruit also promotes bowel activity, reducing the risk of colon cancer.
One study discovered that papaya-based formulas may help with constipation and bloating. Furthermore, papaya seeds, leaves, and roots have been shown to treat ulcers in both humans and animals.
Papaya has a unique taste that you’re bound to love and is rich in valuable nutrients. You can integrate this tasty fruit into your diet by adding it to your salsas, smoothies, and salads.