Papaya is one of the most common and popular fruits in tropical countries.
Papain, a unique enzyme found in papaya can break down strong protein chains in meat. Due to this property, it is used to tenderize meat for many hundreds of years.
Papaya can be eaten raw when it has ripened enough. Else, it should be cooked well before consumption.
Pregnant women are usually forbidden from eating papaya as it can stimulate contractions.
Papaya also contains a number of black colored seeds which are edible but bitter in taste.
1 It reduces oxidative stress
Our body can naturally produce free radicals during metabolism. When these free radicals are left unattended it can cause oxidative stress which can lead to many ailments and diseases including cancer.
Papaya being a rich source of antioxidants and carotenoids, it can effectively neutralize the free radicals and squelch its effects.
One study found that fermented papaya reduces oxidative stress significantly in people suffering from prediabetes, hypothyroidism, and liver disease.
Papaya is also rich in lycopene, a compound that effectively removes excess iron, which is known to produce free radicals.
2 It can slow down Alzheimer’s
Health experts believe one of the important factors for Alzheimer’s disease is the presence of free radicals in the brain.
A scientific study found that Alzheimer’s patient who regularly consumed fermented papaya for six months reduced the level of oxidative damage to the DNA by nearly 40 percent.
3 It can protect you from certain types of cancer
Research studies have found that lycopene present in papaya has anti-cancer properties and can effectively reduce the risk of cancer.
Some preliminary studies also suggest that it can also be beneficial for people who are being treated for cancer.
Health experts believe papaya’s anticancer property is attributed to its ability to nullify the effects of free radicals.
Another interesting find is that papaya has special antioxidant properties that are found to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. The study involved 14 other fruits and vegetables which as antioxidant properties. However, none of the other fruits or vegetables except papaya exhibited anticancer property.
A small study done among older adults found that fermented papaya effectively reduced inflammation and oxidative stress in the precancerous stomach conditions.
4 It may protect your heart
Papaya is believed to be heart-protective due to two major reasons.
It helps to regulate a healthy balance between good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL).
Another major reason is the presence of copious amounts of antioxidants in papaya.
Antioxidants in papaya are believed to be good for heart’s health as it enhances the protective effects of HDL or good cholesterol.
Numerous studies have shown that lycopene and vitamin-C help to prevent heart diseases like angina, heart attack, and stroke. And papaya is a rich source of both of these nutrients.
5 It may improve your digestive health
Like mentioned before, papain enzyme present in papaya is not only useful in tenderizing meat, it also helps to breakdown protein in the food we consume and eases its digestive process.
Many people in tropical countries consume papaya as a remedy for constipation, and to reduce symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome.
Even the seeds, leaves, and roots of the papaya tree are used to ulcers and many other ailments in both animals and humans.
6 It protects your skin
This one should come as a no surprise as many of the present-day cosmetics and creams used for facials come with papaya as its main ingredient.
This is because papaya is a good source of lycopene and vitamin-C, both of these compounds protects your skin and helps to reduce the signs of aging.