Papayas grow in tropical climates and are also known as pawpaws or pawpaws. Their sweet taste, vibrant color, and the wide variety of health benefits they provide make them a popular fruit.
The papaya, a previously exotic and rare fruit, is now available at most times of the year.
The possible health benefits of consuming papaya include a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, aiding in digestion, improving blood glucose control in people with diabetes, lowering blood pressure, and improving wound healing.
Papayas are a soft, fleshy fruit that can be used in a wide variety of culinary ways. Here we will explore more on the health benefits, uses, how to incorporate more of them into your diet, and what nutritional value papayas have.
Fast facts on papaya:
- Papaya is native to Mexico. However, it grows naturally in the Caribbean and Florida too.
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), India produces the most papayas – over 5 million tons in 2013.
- It can be added to salads, smoothies, and other dishes.
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Asthma prevention
- Bone health
- Heart disease
- Skin and healing
- Hair health
Papayas are an excellent source of vitamin C, and one single medium fruit provides 224 percent of recommended daily intake.
One medium papaya has approximately:
- 120 calories
- 30 grams of carbohydrate – including 5 grams of fiber and 18 grams of sugar
- 2 grams of protein
Papayas are also a good source of:
- vitamin A
- pantothenic acid
They also have B vitamins, alpha and beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, vitamin K, and lycopene, the powerful antioxidant most commonly associated with tomatoes.
There are many simple ways to add papaya to a diet. The fruit is quite tricky to eat, as it is very juicy, but consider the following methods of eating and recipes:
How to eat papaya
When choosing or eating papaya, look for fresh papayas with reddish-orange skin that are soft to the touch. Just cut like a melon, scoop out the seeds, and enjoy. The seeds of the papaya are edible but have a bitter, peppery taste. Using a spoon, it is possible to scoop out the soft flesh of the fruit.
Papaya is a soft, versatile fruit. This means it can be incorporated into many recipes. Consider the following simple methods of preparation:
- Make a tropical fruit salad with fresh papaya, pineapple, and mango.
- Muddle papaya into a glass of lemonade, iced tea, or water for a burst of fresh fruity flavor.
- Make a fresh salsa with papaya, mango, jalapeno, red peppers, and chipotle pepper. Use as a topping for fish tacos.
- Add a few slices of frozen papaya to smoothies. Combine with pineapple juice, half a frozen banana, and Greek yogurt for a sweet tropical treat.
People with a latex allergy may also be allergic to papaya because papayas contain enzymes called chitinases. They can cause a cross-reaction between latex and the foods that contain them. To some, ripe papaya can have an off-putting odor. You can minimize this smell by mixing the cut fruit with lime juice. The seeds of the papaya, though unpleasant tasting to some, are perfectly safe to consume.