The tall tree standing in solitude in my backyard garden was inviting attention from passers-by. A bunch of papaya fruits had turned orange from green. It could be any moment when it would fall down. And it did fall down with a thud. It was a treat to have the sweet fruit that afternoon.
Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America called it “the fruit of angels”. Papaya is a popular fruit which originated in the Central American countries but grown in tropical climates all over the world today. It is marked for its tall structure devoid of plenty of leaves. The fruit is visible even at that height and hence easy to catch attention when ripe. Plants are male, female or hermaphrodite, i.e. devoid of any sex. Most of the commercial cultivation consists of plants of hermaphrodite variety. It was once a rare fruit but is available almost everywhere in this world and specially in the tropical areas.
Papaya benefits are well-known in the folk-lore and it is one of the natural remedies in diseases where chemical dosage is still not recommended. Here in this article we discuss the health benefits of various parts of papaya.
The Ripe Fruit
The peculiar taste of ripe fruit comes when it is optimally ripe. It tastes delicious at this stage. It will give a different taste when semi-ripe or over ripe. In order to prolong this taste, it is suggested to keep in cold. The skin of the ripe fruit should be soft yet firm not to collapse. It is orangish and the flesh inside is yellow. They are sphere shaped and varies in length up to 20 inches!
Papaya benefits stems from the anti-oxidants it packs. The anti-oxidant effect is derived from the lycopene- a powerful carotenoid. Besides, the ripe fruit packs Vitamin A and C, Fiber, Magnesium and Folate to provide us with maximum health benefits.
Consumption of ripe fruit thereby leads to reducing inflammation and a younger looking skin. It is often recommended for cancer patients due to this anti-oxidant effect besides supplying vitamins and minerals to support recovery.
The ripe fruit aiding in digestion is the most well-known cure for erratic bowel syndrome. It contains an enzyme called papain. It helps maintain the PH for gastric juices and thereby improves digestion. The richness in fiber leads it to clean the food tract and thereby promote a healthy digestive system.
Care should be taken not to drink water after consuming ripe papaya. Though this is true for any fruit but specially papaya disturbs the gastric juices if water is taken after consuming it.
The Raw Fruit
Raw fruit has been used as a meat tenderizer for many years. The papain in the fruit breaks down complex protein in meat and thereby it acquires this property of tenderizing. It is concentrated in the raw fruit and hence it is the raw fruit which is used for this activity.
Some delicacies in Mid-Western countries essentially uses this technique to prepare the softest kebabs. The meat is left overnight along with grated raw papaya. The longer you can afford to leave, the tenderer the meat will be.
Raw fruit contains fibers and helps in cleaning our guts. Thereby, making the digestive tract healthy and well functioning. This is also effective in treating skin conditions. Raw papaya contains maximum amount of carotenoids. The carotenoids in papaya are available for maximum absorption in human body.The concentration of the goodness elements of papaya is higher in raw fruit.
Raw fruit should always be cooked before eating. Else, extract the juice in a juicer. It contains a high degree of latex and hence not recommended for pregnant women as it is known to have adverse effect on the fetus.
Papaya seeds are generally not consumed and discarded due to its peppery flavor. Seeds are black in colour and many in number. They are loosely attached at the core of the fruit. However, some nutritionists suggest that papaya seeds are edible when taken in small proportions.
Papaya benefits includes those derived from its seeds. The seeds are anti-oxidants and fight free radicals in our body giving it a youthful outlook. It as well helps in fighting the common flu, cough and cold. Since papain is a constituent of all part of papaya, the seeds are known to aid in digestion. Besides, the fiber helps in keeping the guts clean and thereby healthy. It is also known to relieve muscle cramps in menstrual pain.
However, the biggest challenge is how to consume it. The solution is to sweeten it with honey while consuming which camouflages the peppery taste of the seeds.
One of the most recent use of papaya leave extract is in treating Dengue. Fresh papaya leaf juice contains papain and carocain. This helps in controlling fall of blood platelets and reduces Dengue infection. Papaya juice has been used a popular home remedy to treat this disease where chemical medication and OTC drugs have still not found recommendations from doctors.
The treatment consists of having about 50ml of papaya leaf extract before meal thrice a day to see improvements. However, caution should be exercised over such treatment as this is still not supported by medical researches.
Besides the home cure for dengue fever, papaya seeds are known to treat malarial fever and enhance the health of skin and hair. Papaya leaf extract blended with aloe-vera juice are claimed to give the best results.
The delicious taste of papaya is packed with some of the most surprising health benefits. The key ingredient of papain is present almost everywhere in the plant – the fruit, leaves or the seed. It improves digestion and provides the benefits of vitamins and minerals.
Most of the health benefits of papaya arise out of word of mouth and caution must be exercised in consuming it in reasonable quantities only. I encourage you to start consuming small doses of ripe papaya fruit either raw or blended in a smoothie to see the health benefits for yourself.
Do leave your opinion and experience with health benefits of papaya in the comment box below.