Papaya, also known as papaw or pawpaw, is a delicious tropical fruit. It is believed to have originated in the tropics of America, perhaps somewhere in Southern Mexico. Due to its amazing combination of mouthwatering flavor and health benefiting nutrients, it has earned the name “fruit of angels.” Papaya is basically a spherical or pear shaped fruit, weighing about a pound. On ripening, it feels soft to thumb pressure and its skin attains an amber to orange hue. The hollow cavity in the center has a mucin which encloses numerous black seeds. The inner flesh is orange in color with yellow or pink hues and deliciously sweet, musky taste with rich flavor.
The papaya fruit has a rich history. It is believed to be one of the favorite fruits of Christopher Columbus. The Mayans used to worship the papaya tree which they called the “Tree of Life.” Apart from the fruit, the leaves, seeds and milk of the papaya tree have medicinal properties. It is great for digestion and is widely eaten alone or forms part of fruit salads. It is also used in smoothies.
Papayas are renowned for their digestive, medicinal and nutritional properties and hence, offer the following benefits for skin, hair and health.
Papayas contain digestive enzymes which help break down food quite rapidly, thus facilitating the digestion of proteins. They also have a high content of water and soluble fiber which further ease digestion. Papaya seeds are beneficial in treating intestinal worms in the body. The enzyme called papain in papayas helps prevent constipation and aids in digestion. The anti-amoebic and anti- parasitic characters in papaya control the bowel movements, thus curing indigestion, acid reflux, heart burn, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers and gastric problems.
Papaya contains anti-inflammatory enzymes that are beneficial for those suffering from arthritis, edema and osteoporosis.
3. Anti-inflammatory Properties:
The two enzymes papain and chymopapain in papayas can help reduce inflammation and improve the rate of healing from burns. Besides, the antioxidants like vitamin C, E and beta carotene also help in reducing inflammation.
4. Wound Healing:
Papaya contains an active enzyme called fibrin which is also available in animal and human body. It aids in digestion and prevents blood clots as well as facilitates quick healing of external and internal wounds. It helps in preventing unnecessary clotting inside the body.
Papaya contains flavonoids like beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. They act as antioxidants by fighting the oxygen free radicals, thus curing cancer. Beta –carotene provides protection against lung and oral cavity cancers. Papaya juice, through its anti-proliferative effect on liver cancer cells, stops or slows down the growth of cancer cells of liver, thus preventing liver cancer.
6. Kidney Disorders:
In poison related disorder of kidneys, the aqueous seed extract of unripe papaya fruits has been found to induce antioxidant and oxidative free radical scavenging, thus enabling the kidneys to recover. Papaya for kidney stones is an effective cure.
7. Heart Health:
The abundant amount of potassium in fresh papayas regulates the cell body fluids as well as controls the flow of blood to maintain normal blood pressure. It also regulates the harmful effects of sodium inside the body. Moreover, papaya contains zero cholesterol and high amount of fiber which help in lowering high cholesterol levels. In this way, this fruit protects against various heart diseases.
8. Menstrual Problems:
Papaya is effective in controlling menstrual irregularities in women, easing menstrual cramps and promoting regular flow of menstruation. Papaya leaves are a natural remedy for menstrual pain. Taking papaya leaf with tamarind, salt and water can relieve frequent pain in women menstruation cycle.
9. Morning Sickness:
Regular consumption of a small slice of papaya can relieve nausea and morning sickness in pregnant ladies.
Papaya is known for its contraceptive ability. It is often used by women to prevent pregnancy.
Being rich in vitamin A and C, papaya boosts the body’s immunity and hence, helps in preventing cold, fever and flu.
Papaya Benefits for Skincare and Hair
The nutritional value of papaya makes it beneficial for treating acne, pimples and other skin infections. The fermented flesh of papaya called papain can dissolve the dead cells and open up the pores, thus providing you with fresh and glowing skin. It can also cure skin infections and wounds because of its healing qualities. Mashed papaya is effective in treating sore and cracked heels.
Papaya is rich in antioxidants that can control premature skin, thus preventing wrinkles and fine lines, and providing you with a younger looking radiant skin.
14. Hair care:
Papaya is beneficial for your hair as well. Using a papaya paste on your hair can improve its texture and control dandruff. It is often used as an ingredient in anti-dandruff shampoos. It provides natural shine and softness to your hair by removing the build-up of chemicals and other products. It also provides volume to your hair by nourishing the hair shaft.
This amazing fruit boasts of a rich variety of nutrients comprising of vital vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. Its nutritional value can be understood from the table and explanation given below.
|See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:Papaya fruit (Carica papaya), Fresh, Nutritive Value per 100 g.|
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.14 g||0.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||1.80 g||4.5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.218 mg||4%|
|Vitamin A||1094 IU||36%|
|Vitamin C||61.8 mg||103%|
|Vitamin E||0.73 mg||5%|
|Vitamin K||2.6 µg||2%|
- Calories: The papaya fruit is extremely low in calories, providing just 39 calories in a 100 grams serving. It derives most of its calories from carbohydrates (92%) while the remaining is contributed by protein (5%) and fat (3%).
- Vitamins: Papayas are an excellent source of vitamin C, providing 61.8 mg or 103% of the daily recommended intake (DRI) of this vitamin which is more than oranges or lemons. It is also rich in vitamin A, providing about 1094 international units (IU) of this vitamin in a 100 grams serving. Apart from these, it contains essential B-complex vitamins like folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B1).
Papaya during Pregnancy:
Ripe papaya is absolutely safe to eat during pregnancy as it is full of vitamins and nutrients. However, an unripe or semi ripe papaya should be avoided as it contains a concentrated form of latex that triggers uterine contraction which can lead to miscarriage. The papaya enzyme called papain is found in the fruit’s latex and leaves. Unripe papaya latex acts like prostaglandin and oxytocin which the body makes to start labor. These are used in synthetic forms to start or strengthen labor contractions. Women trying to become pregnant should avoid eating papaya due to its contraceptive effects.
Papaya Leaf Benefits:
Papaya leaf is known for its various medicinal properties, especially for curing dengue. These leaves contain powerful healing compounds that are effective in curing cancer, dengue and malarial fever. Dengue is a deadly disease characterized by a drastic drop in platelets, known as thrombocytes. No approved medicine has been discovered for this disease so far. Several studies have proved that the extract of raw papaya leaf helps to boost platelets and relieve symptoms of dengue like headache, joint ache, severe muscle pain and rashes on the body with itchiness.
Papaya Juice Benefits:
Papaya juice can be a healthy and refreshing addition to your diet as it boasts of all the vitamin and mineral content of whole papayas. It should be distinguished from papaya nectar which is devoid of the nutritional value of the real papaya juice. It is advisable to prepare papaya juice at home with the help of juicer to ensure that it is pure and fresh.
Papaya for Weight Loss And Diet:
Being extremely low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals, papaya can form part of a perfect healthy diet. Papayas are rich in vitamins C, E and A, and folate as well as dietary fiber. The antioxidants help burn calories and extra fat deposits, thus causing weight loss. You can have papaya at breakfast in the form of salads and juice. Papaya smoothies and cocktails are a nutritious punch providing several health benefits.
Papaya Face Pack:
Papaya literally works wonders for your skin. It is widely used in several face packs meant for different skin types along with other natural ingredients like honey, egg white, turmeric, sandalwood, lemon etc to provide you with a flawless glowing skin. Given below are few of these face packs.
- If you have dry skin, you can apply a mixture of mashed papaya, 2 tablespoons raw milk and 1 tablespoon honey on your face for 10-15 minutes to combat dryness and moisturize your skin.
- You can prepare an anti-ageing mask by blending ripe papaya pieces with 1 tablespoon sandalwood powder and 1 tablespoon honey. Apply it on your face and allow it to dry for 20 minutes. Then wash off with cool water.
- You can prepare a lightening face pack by making a smooth paste of mashed papaya, 2 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Apply it all over your face and skin. This will cleanse the dirt and provide you with a naturally lighter complexion.
- Applying a finely grounded paste of raw papaya on your face will help clear pimples and blemishes.
Thus, papaya is undoubtedly one of the most nutritious fruits providing a wide variety of health, hair and skin benefits. You can eat this fruit after meals for smooth digestion as well as apply it topically for beautiful hair and skin.
Also read: Grow Papaya in Pot