Papaya is called fruit of the angels by Conquistadors because of its heavenly taste. In its prime, it is a cerise-orange colored, unbelievably juicy fruit with an aroma to match its heavenly taste. Not only is papaya beautiful, fragrant and luscious, it is amazingly healthful!
How fortunate that this glorious fruit is available year-round. Although a native of the tropics, papaya trees produce fruit all year long and are now produced in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. A ripe papaya can be as long as twenty inches, but most commercially grown fruits are pear-shaped, about seven inches in length and about a pound in weight.
It is high in bromelain, which makes it beneficial in ways similar to pineapple. Since it loses nutrient strength as it ripens, papaya is best if purchased mostly ripe and eaten by the next day. Purchase fruit that is orangey-red in color and just a little soft to touch. Fruits that have yellow patches are less ripe and will take a few days at home to become their best. The seeds of a papaya are small, round and black in color. Although they are edible, they have a bitter, peppery flavor that few people seem to find enjoyable.
Papaya can be eaten for its digestive and heart health properties. Externally, it is used in anti-aging products and both the skin and pulp are valuable as healing agents. After a course of antibiotic therapy, papaya juice will rapidly return the intestinal bacteria count to normal. It is especially rich in Vitamin C and carotene.
More unusual, but very valuable is its high arginine, papain and carpain contents. Arginine is known to be good for male fertility, while papain is a proteolytic enzyme. This means papain can break down protein, making it valuable as a meat tenderizer. Carpain is an enzyme considered to be good for the heart.
Papaya also contains fibrin, a rarity in the plant world. In humans, fibrin is an essential part of the blood clotting process.Although further study needs to be done, early findings lead to the belief that papaya may prevent diabetic heart disease. It is high in fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol.
A very special ability of the fiber contained in papaya is that it can bind cancer causing toxins to it, preventing them from binding to cells in the colon. For individuals with a family history of colon cancer, papaya may be an important dietary addition.Another promising finding is that men who ate lycopene-rich foods are less likely to develop prostate cancer. Papaya is one of the high lycopene fruits, easy to eat and easy to obtain in today's markets.Papaya is a great addition to any meal or snack. Chunks of fresh papaya are terrific in cereal or in smoothies.
Jian L, Lee AH, Binns CW. Tea and lycopene protect against prostate cancer. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007;16 Suppl 1:453-7. 2007. PMID:17392149.
Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York 1996.Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986 1986. PMID:15210.
About the author
Sheryl is a kinesiologist, nutritionist and holistic practitioner. Her website http://www.younglivingguide.com/ provides the latest research on preventing disease, looking naturally gorgeous, and feeling emotionally and physically fabulous. And her latest website http://www.raiselibido.com/ offers a vast quantity of information on how to increase sex drive and enjoy a vibrant sex life.