NUTRITION CORNER: Let us discover the goodness of papaya

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.

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 and other proteins. Papain is also used as a digestive aid and is assumed to have 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  homocysteine, an amino acid, which if unconverted can directly damage blood vessel walls and considered a significant risk factor to heart attack and strokes if levels get too high.

It is also a good source of fiber which lowers cholesterol levels and helps in easing the discomforts of constipation.

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 smoking.

The comparative low calorie content of papaya makes it a favorite fruit of obese people who are into a weight-reducing regimen. One small slice of ripe papaya or three-fourths cup contains 40 kilocalories.

This low-calorie, nutritious and affordable all-season fruit must be included in our regular diet to ensure that we have a healthy body.