Health Benefits of Papaya

Carica papaya is the scientific name of the orange and green fruit known more commonly as papaya. It tastes sweet and has a soft texture that many find appealing. The seeds are also edible, although they’re more bitter than the fruit itself.

Papayas are originally from Central America. They grow best in a tropical region where there is plentiful rainfall but little long-term flooding. Freezing temperatures may damage a papaya crop.

Indigenous people in the area ate papayas and used them for medicinal purposes. In the 1500s and 1600s, Spanish and Portuguese colonizers brought the seeds to other tropical areas of the globe, including the Philippines and India.

Today, Hawaii, the Philippines, India, Ceylon, Australia, and tropical regions in Africa are the most fruitful papaya-producing regions. Smaller papaya-farming operations still exist in Central and South America.

Papaya has many different names all over the globe. In Australia, it’s called a pawpaw. In southern Asia, it’s sometimes called a kepaya, lapaya, or tapaya. Its name in French is sometimes “figueir des iles,” or fig of the islands. Some Spanish names for papaya include “melon zapote,” “fruta bomba,” or “mamona.”

How does it work?

Papaya contains a chemical called papain. Papain breaks down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. That’s why it works as a meat tenderizer. However, papain is changed by digestive juices, so there is some question about whether it could be effective as a medicine when taken by mouth.

Papaya also contains a chemical called carpain. Carpain seems to be able to kill certain parasites, and it might affect the central nervous system.

Benefits

Healthy food choices can have a positive impact on your physical state. If you’re looking to add variety to your diet, here’s why you should eat more papaya.

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 infections.

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 extracts of fermented papaya powder may help counteract the effects of oxidative stress in people living with Alzheimer’s disease and slow the progression of the illness, though the possible effects of whole papaya have not been studied for this benefit.

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.

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.

Improves Digestion

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.

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May Help Protect the Eyes

Papaya contains a good amount of the nutrients lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which can protect the eyes and help prevent eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two antioxidants used in the eyes.

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

The powerful antioxidants in papaya can help your skin recover from sun damage and may defend against wrinkling.

Is Papaya a Good Food to Add to Your Diet for Weight Loss?

Thinking about dropping a few pounds? If so, it doesn’t hurt to add papaya to your daily menu.

Papaya is excellent for weight loss because of its low calorie count. Because the fruit is also a good source of fiber, papaya isn’t only physically satisfying — it’ll also help you stay full longer. As a result, you may end up consuming fewer calories throughout the day.

Fiber in papaya also promotes healthy digestion. With improved digestion, you’ll feel and look less bloated, which can help flatten your stomach.

Bottom Line

Papaya is rich in valuable nutrients and has a delicious taste.

Its powerful antioxidants like lycopene may reduce your risk of many diseases — especially ones that tend to come with age, such as heart disease and cancer.

It may also defend against the visible signs of aging, helping your skin remain smooth and youthful.

Try adding this healthy and delicious fruit to your diet today.

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