Papayas are popular all over the world and for good reason. The tropical fruit is loaded with nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K, as well as niacin, magnesium, potassium, protein, carotene, and natural fiber. Every part of a papaya tree, from the fruit to the leaves, contains some medicinal properties.
In addition to the fruit pulp, the seeds of this fruit are also edible but they have a pungent, peppery taste. They are rich in phenolic and flavonoid compounds, protein, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Papaya seeds are also high in fat and should be consumed in moderation.
They help detoxify the liver and exhibit strong antioxidant, anthelmintic and antibacterial effects. You can scoop out the papaya seeds from the fruit and rinse away the gelatinous substance in which they are encased. Eat the seeds as they are or add them to salads, smoothies and other dishes.
Precaution: Pregnant women and people with latex allergy or papain allergy should also avoid eating papaya or its seeds.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of papaya and papaya seeds.
1. Protects Against Heart Disease
Regular consumption of papayas can prevent atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Papayas are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E, all very powerful antioxidants.
These three nutrients help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, which is one of the main causes of heart attacks and strokes. Papayas are also a good source of fiber, which can be very helpful in lowering high cholesterol levels.
2. Improves Digestion
The high amount of the digestive enzyme called papain present in papayas helps break down tough protein fibers and aids the natural digestion process.
The fruit’s high water and soluble fiber content also make the digestion process easier. This in turn promotes proper functioning of bowel movements and helps prevent constipation. In addition, the high amount of folate, beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E in papayas can help reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Moreover, papaya seeds help you get rid of intestinal worms and parasites because they are rich in proteolytic enzymes and an anthelmintic alkaloid called carpaine.
3. Protects Eye Sight
According to a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, eating three or more servings of papaya per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, as compared to those who ate less than 1.5 servings daily.
Papaya is good for your eyes due to the presence of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E. It also contains carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that provide protection against high energy blue light that can damage the retina of your eyes. They also protect against developing cataracts, glaucoma, and other chronic eye diseases.
4. Helps Treat Arthritis
Papaya contains several anti-inflammatory enzymes that help relieve pain caused by arthritis. The two most unique protein-digesting enzymes present in papaya are papain and chymopapain, which can greatly lower inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
The high content of vitamins A, C, and E, and beta-carotene is also very good at reducing inflammation. According to a study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, those who do not eat sufficient amounts of vitamin C-rich foods like papaya regularly are more likely to develop arthritis than those who consume such foods on regular basis.
5. Improves Complexion
Papaya has several healthy components that are great for your skin. Papaya can be used as a face pack to enjoy maximum skin benefits.
When ripe papaya is used as a face pack, it helps open clogged skin pores, which helps treat acne and prevent skin infections. The fermented flesh of papaya can also help dissolve dead skin cells and give you fresh and glowing skin because of papain. It also reduces signs of aging on the face.
6. Nourishes Hair
Papaya is also very beneficial for your hair. Rich in several minerals, vitamins and enzymes, papaya can boost hair growth and strength. It can also help increase your hair volume by nourishing the hair shaft. Papaya is also used for controlling dandruff.
According to hair experts, the hair benefits from papaya can be obtained by eating the tasty fruit regularly or through regular use of hair care products containing papaya (in the form of fruit extract) as a major ingredient. You can also use papaya leaf extracts as a conditioner to add extra shine to dull, unruly and lifeless hair.
7. Prevents Cancer
There are several important compounds in papaya that can reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancers. The rich antioxidant content, especially lycopene, beta-carotene and carotenoid known as beta-cryptoxanthin, is particularly beneficial in reducing cancer risk.
The fruit also contains compounds called isothiocyanates that help prevent cancer by eliminating potential carcinogens from the body and enhancing the action of tumor-suppressing proteins. They help inhibit the formation as well as development of cancer cells.
Papaya seeds, too, help slow cancer growth because of their immunomodulatory compounds.
8. Helps Maintain Healthy Weight
Papayas are high in vitamin A and C, folate, fiber and potassium. These nutrients are good for your health. Moreover, the fruit is rich in fiber that makes you feel fuller for longer and also prevents constipation. A small papaya provides almost 11% of the recommended daily value of fiber required in the diet.
It also has papain, a unique natural enzyme that aids in digestion and promotes faster movement of food through your gut. Poor digestion is often attributed to poor nutrition as well as weight problems. This makes papaya a great aid for weight management.
The fruit is cholesterol free, fat free and very low in calories and therefore it is an excellent food for those on a diet. If you are interested in maintaining healthy weight, you can eat papayas raw or cooked.
9. Helps Treat Hypertension
This is why health experts recommend that patients suffering from hypertension include papaya in their daily diet. To increase the amount of papaya in your diet, you can add this fruit to salads or spicy salsas.
10. Boosts Immune System
Other powerful immune-boosting antioxidant vitamins in papaya are A and E. Both vitamin A and E are required for the proper functioning of a healthy immune system. This makes papaya very good for those who frequently suffer from colds, coughs or the flu.
Now you have 10 extra reasons beyond the wonderful taste of papayas to include this food in your diet. You can eat the fruit as a salad, a smoothie, a milkshake or simply as a fruit snack.