10 Amazing Health Benefits of Papaya
Papaya [puh-PIE-yah] – here’s a fruit that could save you some money on supplements. It’s delicious, versatile and it does so much for your body.
Papaya is easy to prepare, sweet but low on sugar and so yummy when paired with other fruits. Personally, it makes me feel good – you’ll see why. I hope you’ll be blown away by the benefits of papaya and be able to enjoy it for the rest of summer as you eat lighter, raw foods to cool off.
To quickly ripen this powerhouse fruit, store on the counter in a brown bag, then in the fridge in a plastic bag. Should be consumed within 2 days of ripening but can last a week after purchase. If pesticides are a concern, you should know that it’s all right to purchase non-organic papayas if you need to – the fruit made it to Environmental Working Group’s “Clean 15” list which means there is very little residue on them. However, in order to avoid GMOs, do not purchase papayas from Hawaii. Any GMO bans in Hawaii were overturned in summer of 2015.
Caution: If you’re allergic to latex, you may also be allergic to papaya. If you have a latex allergy, avoid eating papaya or taking products that contain papaya.
Amazing Health Benefits of Papaya
#1 Enzymes for Digestion
Papain is a powerful, anti-inflammatory enzyme that is great for digestion. Papain is crucial for digesting proteins. It prevents acid reflux, and is known to relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms and ulcers. The water and fiber in papaya offer great relief from constipation and help clear the digestive tract. Eat all by itself or with other fruit for best benefits.
#2 Powerhouse of Vitamins A, B, C; Electrolytes and Omega-3s
One cup of cubed papaya contains an incredible amount of nutrition. That small amount contains a whopping 1531 IU of vitamin A, 85 mg of vitamin C (144% DV), and 53.2mcg of food folate (B9). It also contains some choline, and small amounts of beta carotene, Lutein+Zeaxanthin, vitamin K and E. Papayas contain more vitamin C than oranges or lemons.
In addition, it contains generous electrolyte minerals: magnesium 14 mg, phosphorous 7 mg, sodium 4 mg, calcium 33 mg, and potassium 360 mg. It contains 35.0 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, much more than the omega-6 contained there-in. (source)
Did you know that some antibiotics drastically pull vitamin B9 from your body? It’s right in
the inserts. Perhaps the papaya is a plant-based way to address that problem. The vitamin C in papaya is crucial for collagen production.
#3 Anti-inflammatory, Pain, Arthritis
Back to the enzyme papain. Papain breaks down proteins, so much so that it is even used as a meat tenderizer! It is suggested that it may ease inflammatory proteins. The enzymes from papayas and pineapples are often used for pain management.
#4 Antioxidants and Eye Health
Papayas contain lycopene heavily studied for its antioxidant effects and as a cancer preventative. Along with beta carotene, Lutein and Zeaxanthin prevent macular degeneration.
Did you know that the carotenoids in papaya are more bioavailable to humans than those in carrots or tomatoes? Cryptoxanthin and lycopene are also more bioavailable in papayas. One study concluded, “may represent a readily available dietary source of provitamin A for reducing the incidence of vitamin A deficiencies in many subtropical and tropical developing countries.” Yet, elite groups insist on GM Golden Rice for this problem, but there is already a studied solution growing right here on the earth. (Plus, we could provide them glasses.)
#5 Cardiovascular and Heart
Red and pink fruits are said to help with blood and heart health – and papayas are no exception. Folate rebuilds blood, but the other antioxidants lower blood pressure, prevent arteriosclerosis.
Vitamins E and C are antioxidants which makes them valuable to the heart and circulation as it prevents oxidation of cholesterol. Good circulation help with eyes and other parts of the body.
#6 Papaya Leaf to Treat Dengue Fever, Malaria and Cancer
Various parts and forms of papaya have been either used or tested as anti parasitic. According to Super Food Profiles, papaya leaf,
…is a natural treatment for dengue fever and malaria. It is particularly useful for dengue as there is currently no drug based treatment for the disease. It is also used as a cancer treatment in some natural therapies.
If papaya leaf is allowed to be fully explored for its benefit to treat these devastating diseases, it could significantly dampen Big Biotech with its GM mosquitoes, the vaccine industry and the cancer industry. You can imagine the corporate mayhem that would cause.
[Note: contraindicated for pregnant women always and for those treated for ulcers and blood thinning meds.]
#7 Immune System
All the previously mentioned benefits – especially the beneficial gut impact – work together to support the immune system!
#8 Reproductive Issues, PMS and Moods
Lovers of Paracelsus and the doctrine of signatures may have noticed how “reproductive looking” the papaya is (even the seeds look like little amphibian eggs). This is not lost on other cultures – in fact, you should definitely avoid the word “papaya” in Cuba as it is now a derogatory term for “vagina.” Too bad Mitt Romney did not know this during a Cuban radio interview – at least his interpreter quickly scrambled for a better word. Cuba actually changed the papaya’s name to “fruta bomba” to describe the fruit without offending.
Papain helps with the pain and flow of menstruation. Ripe papaya helps ease constipation which helps with PMS, too. Lastly, the folate and other B vitamins help with blood flow and headaches, mood swings, depression and anxiety.
In Asian and Indian cultures, unripened papaya and its parts are used as a contraceptive and as an abortive. Likewise, unripe papaya blocks fertility in men. I’m not sure if this use includes cooking the fruit or not. In theory, the unripened fruit should be avoided in those with estrogen dominance as it blocks progesterone function. Some with latex allergies cannot handle papaya and unripe papaya should never be eaten raw. It cannot be stressed enough that unripe papaya or its supplements should never be used by pregnant women. However, those same qualities in the unripened, (cooked?) fruit – namely large amounts of papain – help bring blood to the uterus, support contractions and can help women with amenorrhea (absence of a period) to menstruate again. Luckily, unripened papaya is safe if cooked and ripe papaya can be enjoyed by men and women alike, especially during pregnancy for its folate.
#9 Seeds Proven to Clear Intestinal Parasites
Papaya seeds are edible and can be added to smoothies. Be forewarned, the fruit should be ripe and the seeds are very bitter and peppery. I attempted adding them to a smoothie and it was rendered inedible and gave off a burning sensation – but then again, I used all the seeds to see what what happen.
The seeds are an age-old and cheap remedy for intestinal parasites. They are proven to be antihelminthic and anti-amoebic. In one study, researchers found that a mixture of honey and papaya seeds cleared stools of parasites in 23 out of 30 subjects. In another 2007 study of 60 Nigerian children with strong evidence of intestinal parasites, subjects showed an over 75% clearance rate of infection in just seven days of using 20 ml dose of papaya seed extract.
Additionally, the enzyme papain is said to “kill worms” and make the intestines an unpleasant environment for worms.
#10 Use it for Beauty and Skin Conditions
Papaya enzymes are a safer alternative to chemical skin peels but be cautious as the powerful enzymes and acids can burn the skin if left on too long. Ironically, they are used to treat skin ulcers! It has vitamin C which works transdermally to promote collagen far better than collagen based masks (collagen molecules are too big to penetrate skin and skin needs vitamin C). The alpha hydroxyl acids and papain will remove dead skin cells. The vitamin C, A and even E contained in papaya is a recipe for a great anti-aging mask. Vitamin A is needed for sebum production and maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails. Speaking of recipes, here’s one that is said to lighten/even skin tone and reduce pores.
Refined sugar breaks down collagen, but the vitamin C in papaya helps rebuild collagen. So grab a papaya instead of a candy bar if you want to keep from rapidly aging.
Did you know that the “carotenoid glow” is scientifically considered more attractive than a tan? Now that you know the power of papayas for carotenoids – get on it!
There is limited research – and more is needed – suggesting that various forms of papaya can reduce risk for gallbladder and colorectal cancers, that fermented papaya can reduce blood sugar in diabetics after two months and that consuming papaya can reduce risk of Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.