I’ve just recently developed a taste for papaya. For me, they’re unique in their texture, smell and taste. I wondered about the potential health benefits of papaya. I wasn’t exposed to exotic fruits like this when I was growing up. In fact, I don’t think I paid any attention to them until a few years ago. We’ve all been told to eat more fruits and vegetables because they’re good for us. But, fruits and vegetables are not all created equal. So, I decided to share what I’ve found on the health benefits of papaya.
Consumption of Papaya
Other than eating the peeled and ripen fruit in a salad there are other ways that these fruits are eaten to acheive their health benefits. Juiced and pureed is a common method of consuming papaya in the united states, especially Hawaii. Many Thai and Vietnamese cuisine uses the green unripened version of the fruit. Green papaya is never consumed raw due to the latex content of the fruit. Once it has been peeled it must be boiled before serving. Most often it is used like a type of vegetables for stews and soups. There are high levels of nitrates in green papaya and are often tested and stored in a particular way if they’re to be exported or canned.
The seeds of the fruit are edible and have been described as having a peppery taste. They can be eaten directly out of the fruit where they’re covered by a gelatinous coating or dried, crushed and used like peppercorns. The health benefits of papaya seeds are less known.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Papaya
Some of the health benefits of papaya can be found in the nutrition information that is available online. It has an okay fibre profile with 3 grams of fiber per cup and approximately 60 calories. It also provides you with more than enough of your daily required intake of vitamin C. More than 1/3 of your daily intake of vitamin A is fulfilled with the 1 cup serving size.
Papain One Health Benefit of Papaya
This compound, ‘papain’, is a type of protein that is unique to papaya. It is considered to be an enzyme that is inactive until the fruit is cut or damaged. Once activated it is not easily degraded by heat and can be considered to be a type of meat tenderizer. More papain is found in green papayas and is likely the reason they’re used commonly as a vegetable in stews and soups. You can also find papain in digestive enzyme supplements that are available in many pharmacies. For people who have trouble digesting their foods then maybe you should consider adding this fruit as a regular to your diet.
Health Benefits for Burns
Another health benefit of papaya is using the fruit as a potential treatment for skin burns. It’s said that it contains anti-inflammatory compounds, in addition to papain, that can speed healing and reduce redness and inflammation.
It is commonly used as a burn therapy in traditional African medicine. Papaya is ground up and the pulp of the fruit is used directly on the burns. The treatment is found to prevent infection and helps renew the skin quicker.
When Not to Eat or Use Papaya
If you are consciously trying to avoid nitrates, I would try to avoid eating green papaya as they tend to contain higher levels of nitrates than the ripened fruit.
Since the fruit contains latex, people who are allergic or sensitive should not consume or use papaya. The younger, unripened green papaya are much higher in latex content. I would not suggest using the pulp of papaya as a treatment to severe blistering burns. If you have a burn that’s blistered, it’s more severe and you should see a health professional for advice. Using the pulp of papaya for minor burns could be considered an acceptable home remedy to try.