Papaya is considered as one of the favorite fruits that abound all year round. It offers not only its luscious taste and golden yellow color but also its many health benefits.
The papaya fruit is relatively large, oval and attached in clusters. The white colored milky juice that comes out from green unripe fruit when injured is a good digestive aid. It stimulates the secretion of gastric juice, hence is used in cases of stomach discomfort like dyspepsia. Green papaya is generally used as a vegetable ingredient in tinola, atchara, ukoy and the famous Vigan’s empanada.
When ripe, papaya turns to deep orange, with a yellow, juicy fleshed fruit. It contains numerous black seeds. The papaya pulp is basically very sweet in taste, fiberless and refreshing. Ripe papaya is a popular breakfast fruit in many countries including the Philippines. It is used in salads, pies, sherbets, juices, jam, jelly and confectionery.
Papaya is a rich source of antioxidants such as folic acid, fiber, carotenes, vitamin C and E. Antioxidants promote the health of the cardiovascular system and also provide protection against colon cancer. It contains the digestive enzyme, papain, which is widely used in tenderizing meat. Papain is also used as a digestive aid and is assumed to have an anti-inflammatory benefits.
Papaya helps in the prevention of atherosclerosis, diabetes and heart disease. Folic acid found in papaya is needed for the conversion of a substance called homocysteine, an amino acid. If unconverted, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls and if levels get too high, it is considered a significant risk factor to heart attack and strokes.
It is also a good source of fiber which lowers cholesterol levels and helps in easing the discomforts of constipation. This fiber is able to bind cancer toxins in the colon and keep them away from the healthy colon cells.
In addition, vitamins C and E found in papaya are all associated with reduced risk of colon cancer. The pigment in the fruit called carotene, is similar to that of carrots and squash. Carotene in food is converted into vitamin A which promotes good eyesight. Papaya is also an ideal food for those with difficulty in chewing and swallowing.
The papaya has a low glycemic index (GI) making it good for diabetics. One small slice of ripe papaya or three-fourths (3/4) cup contains 40 kilocalories.
A quick look at the goodness of papaya shows that it contains less calories; ensures a good supply of vitamins C and E; aids in digestion; serves as an ideal food for those who have problems in chewing and swallowing their foods; and functions as a meat tenderizer.
This low-calorie, nutritious and affordable all-season fruit must be included in your diet to ensure a healthy body.#