Tropical, exotic, delicious, sweet, and satisfying, papaya boasts a wide variety of health benefits, eradicating free radicals and oxidative stress. Packed with antioxidants, and rich with flavor, we’re going to dive into some delicious and savory papaya nutritional benefits, to enrich your health and your palate.
What Is Papaya
Derived from the Carica Papaya plant, Papaya is a tropical fruit native to Mexico and Central America, however it grows naturally in the Caribbean, Florida, and Hawaii. Papaya, contains an enzyme, called papain, which is used in a wide variety of supplements for better digestion, to break down protein chains. All Swolverine products use papain, as its preferred source of digestive enzymes for better digestion of protein and amino acids. When ripe papaya, is sweet and comparable in flavor to a melon.
Papaya contains a robust number of vitamins, such as vitamin A, C, B9, and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Papayas also contain powerful plant compounds called carotenoids a class of mainly yellow, orange, or red fat-soluble pigments, including carotene, which give color to plants, such as beets, carrots, and in this case papaya. here are more than 600 different carotenoids, which must be consumed through your diet from foods like kale, yams, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, mangoes, and oranges. Carotenoids are classified into two main groups: xanthophylls and carotenes. Papayas contain a xanthophyll, called zeaxanthin and lycopene, which has been shown to improve eye health by eradicating blue light.
One small papaya, or 152 grams typically contains
Carbohydrates: 15 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 1 gram
Vitamin C: 157% of the RDI
Vitamin A: 33% of the RDI
Folate (vitamin B9): 14% of the RDI
Potassium: 11% of the RDI
4 Amazing Papaya Health Benefits
1. Papaya Benefits Digestive Health
Papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which has shown to help the digestion of protein. In a double-blind placebo-controlled study investigating the effects of papain on digestive disorders, study participants with gastrointestinal dysfunction, such as constipation, bloating, were administered 20ml of a mixture of Papaya, for 40 days or placebo. In just two days, symptoms were ameliorated from digestive disturbances, such as constipation, bloating and symptoms of IBS [R].
2. Papaya May Benefit Eye Health
Papaya contains zeaxanthin and lutein, specific types of carotenoids called Xanthophylls. Xanthophylls can protect your eyes from sun exposure and long-term blue light.
One of the leading causes of blindness is macular degeneration, degeneration of the retina. Long-term blue-light exposure can negatively affect the sensitive parts of the eye. Studies show that the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in the retina can help absorb blue light.
Researchers at Harvard found that incorporating at least six milligrams of lutein in your diet a day can decrease your risk of developing macular degeneration by 43%. Increasing the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin rich foods in your diet can also help to slow or halt current eye damage and prevent your current condition from progressing. Lutein is absorbed from dietary sources, and transported in large quantities, to the macula and lens of the eye. Lutein may lower the risk of developing AMD, cataracts, and prevent advancement of mild to moderate eye disease [R]. Lutein supplements are available, however, if you include more lutein and zeaxanthin into your diet, kale contains an impressive 40,000 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin per 1 cup serving as well as beta-carotene.
3. Papaya May Protect Against Skin Damage
A large body of evidence suggests that antioxidants in addition to vitamin C, and lycopene can potentially rejuvenate skin and are often used in topical agents to reduce fine lines and signs of aging.
The rate of skin aging is directly related to free radical damage induced by UV rays, and other indirect factors. Therefore, eradicating free radicals and oxidative stress, through antioxidants may help reduce signs of aging and slow the aging process [R].
4. Papaya Benefits Heart Health
Papaya’s health benefits come from the host of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber they contain. All of which have been linked to promoting better heart health, through balancing cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure, and incidence of stroke. Antioxidants have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Papaya is also rich with fiber. Fiber rich foods also have positive benefits on heart health. Fiber can reduce and maintain healthy cholesterol levels, decreasing your risk for plaque buildup in your arteries.
A meta-analysis published in The Journal Of Nutrition investigating the effects of dietary flavanols, which also have antioxidant properties, found that high intakes of foods with polyphenols reduced the risk of stroke by 21% [R].
Papaya Benefits: Takeaway
Adding a scoop of papaya to your Greek yogurt, or on top of your salad can add an abundance of healthy vitamins and nutrients to your diet, contributing to better overall health and wellness. Research shows that antioxidant rich foods, can improve and reduce your risk to chronic disease states and inflammatory conditions. If you loved learning about this antioxidant-rich fruit, read the benefits of eating strawberries.
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Muss C, Mosgoeller W, Endler T. Papaya preparation (Caricol®) in digestive disorders. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2013;34(1):38-46. PMID: 23524622.
Kammeyer A, Luiten RM. Oxidation events and skin aging. Ageing Res Rev. 2015 May;21:16-29. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2015.01.001. Epub 2015 Jan 31. PMID: 25653189.