What is Papaya?
Papaya plant is grown extensively all over the tropical regions under cultivated farms for its fruits as well as for latex, papain, an enzyme that found wide applications in the food industry. The fruit is another gift of Mexicans to this world. This exotic fruit, is packed with numerous health benefiting nutrients. It is one of the favorites of fruit lovers for its nutritional, digestive, and medicinal properties. It probably thought to have originated in the Central Americas.
Botanically, the plant belongs to Caricaceae family of flowering plants, in the genus; Carica.
Scientific name: Carica papaya
Health Benefits of Papaya
Prevents signs of ageing: All of us would love to stay young forever, but no one in this world has managed to do it. Still, healthy habits like eating a papaya daily will prolong the process and may make you look 5 years younger than you are. Papaya is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E and antioxidants like beta-carotene which helps prevent your skin from free radical damage keeping wrinkles and other signs of ageing at bay.
Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Papaya contains several unique protein-digesting enzymes including papain and chymopapain. These enzymes have been shown to help lower inflammation and to improve healing from burns. In addition, the antioxidant nutrients found in papaya, including vitamin C and beta-carotene, are also very good at reducing inflammation. This may explain why people with diseases that are worsened by inflammation, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, find that the severity of their condition is reduced when they get more of these nutrients.
Papaya is rich in fibre, Vitamin C and antioxidants which prevent cholesterol build up in your arteries. Too much cholesterol build-up can lead to several heart diseases including heart attack and hypertension.
Helps in weight loss: Those looking to lose weight must include papaya in their diet as it is very low in calories. The fibre content in papaya leaves you feeling full and also clears your bowel movement making your weight loss regime easier.
Immune Support: Vitamin C and vitamin A, which is made in the body from the beta-carotene in papaya, are both needed for the proper function of a healthy immune system. Papaya may therefore be a healthy fruit choice for preventing such illnesses as recurrent ear infections, colds and flu.
Boosts your immunity: Your immunity system acts as a shield against various infections that can make you really sick. A single papaya contains more than 200% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, making it great for your immunity.
Good for diabetics: Papaya is an excellent food option for diabetics as it has a low-sugar content even though it is sweet to taste. Also, people who don’t have diabetes can eat papaya to prevent it from happening.
Uses of Papaya
Papayas are commonly available in the markets and used in both forms, raw and ripe, to cook a number of dishes. The Thai classic, raw papaya salad is one of the most popular dishes not just in Southeast Asia but across the globe too. The julienned flesh tossed with lemon juice, chillies, peanuts and fresh herbs provide a delicious medley of flavours, and it makes a great option for a refreshing and light lunch.
In India, papaya is used to make halwas, coolers, chutneys, pachadi (south Indian accompaniment), and the likes. Raw papaya is considered to be one of the best agents to tenderise meat and is extensively used in the making of kebabs and meat-based curries such as Bengali Mutton Chaap or Spicy Duck Roast.
The young leaves are often steamed or lightly sautéed and consumed as a green leafy veggie. The flowers too are slightly sautéed and eaten along with rice. The unripe fruit is made into curries and stews along with aromatic spices which lend in a delectable flavour. Let’s not forget the seeds! Packed with nutrients, they have a spicy flavour and are often used as a substitute to black pepper in some cultures.
Nutritional value of Papaya
Papaya’s biggest nutritional benefit is that it is high in vitamin C, providing 237 grams or almost 400% of the recommended daily value of 60 grams per day. This makes it a high antioxidant food as well as a great way to help prevent common colds or flu during the winter season. As with most orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, it is also contains 184 mcg of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A commonly found in plants.