Papaya or pawpaw is a cerise-orange colored juicy fruit, which is not only fragrant and delicious but also very healthy. It has been famous for hundreds of years and was once referred to as the “fruit of the angels” by explorer Christopher Columbus. Papaya is a natural source of vitamins and minerals essential for the normal functioning of the body. It is famous for its luscious taste and sunlit color of the tropics and can be eaten by itself, incorporated into a meal or consumed in a smoothie or milkshake.
Benefits of papaya
- Aids in Digestion – Papayas are commonly consumed for proper digestion. They possess anti-ulcerative properties. Also, the presence of papain, a digestive super-enzyme and improves digestion by breaking down proteins. This ensures a reduced conversion of protein into body fat. If the protein in our diet is not digested properly, it may cause arthritis, constipation, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other related health conditions.
- Weight Loss – Papayas are also good for people who are trying to lose weight naturally given the fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals that it contains. Having a bowl of papaya as a mid-evening or mid-morning snack is good for health.
- Prevents Infections – Papayas are effective for killing intestinal worms, thereby avoiding infections and complications associated with them.
- Relieves Toothache – A paste of fresh papaya roots can be rubbed onto the teeth and gums as a home remedy for toothache relief. The bark of the tree, primarily the inner bark, is also an excellent remedy for tooth problems.
- Anticancer Properties – Researchers have discovered that papayas are effective in the fight against breast, pancreatic, and other cancers. A papaya leaf extract obtained from dried leaves produced anti-carcinogenic effects against tumor cells that were grown in the laboratory. It was observed in a 2010 study that the effects were stronger when the cells were given larger doses of papaya leaf tea. The scientists exposed different types of cancer-affected cells to different papaya leaf extracts and found that the growth of tumors slowed down. Another study suggests that the lycopene found in papaya is a strong antioxidant that helps to relieve the effects of cancer radiotherapy. According to research in the journal Mutation Research, the use of fermented papaya preparation may help reduce oxidative stress and cancer risk in type 2 diabetics. The fruit has gained credibility and has been used in many medicines for its anticancer powers.
- Skin Care – Papayas can be great revitalizing agents, which is why they are used in many cosmetics and are even used in homemade face masks by many women. The papain kills dead cells and purifies the skin. The beneficial properties and the healing enzymes present in papaya help treat sunburn and irritated skin. Lycopene present in papayas reduces wrinkle formation in post-menopausal women, according to a 2014 study. A good facial massage using papaya is a fabulous remedy to remove dead cells. The peels of papayas are also used to rub on the face and hands for healthy skin. Papayas are also used to treat skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis, and others.
- Improves Heart Health – The seeds of papayas are good for keeping the heart healthy. Having three powerful antioxidant vitamins – namely vitamin A, C, and E, means papayas are helpful in preventing problems such as atherosclerosis and diabetic heart diseases. The presence of pro-carotenoid phytonutrients helps prevent oxidation of cholesterol in the body. When oxidation of cholesterol takes place, it sticks to the walls of the blood vessels and forming plaque that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin E and vitamin C contained in papayas help in preventing the cholesterol from sticking to the walls, thereby keeping your heart healthy. As a good source of fiber, papayas also help reduce the LDL cholesterol levels in the body. Include papayas in your daily diet as a snack to keep your heart young.
- Reduces Acne & Burns – The latex obtained from papayas is used to treat the areas on the skin affected by acne. The fleshy side of the papaya skin can be used as a mask to cure acne. A diet which includes papayas will help cure the condition internally, making the skin clear. Got a burn? Use papaya. When the latex from the fruit is applied to a burnt area, it helps in reducing the marks caused due to the burn, making it effective in helping in treating sores, wounds, and ulcers.
- Anti-inflammatory Effects – The enzymes present in papayas, especially the papain and chymopapain, reduce the inflammation in different parts of the body, according to research published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
- Helps Prevent Macular Degeneration – Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disorder in which the ocular cells degenerate, resulting in blurred vision and can cause blindness. An antioxidant named beta-carotene gives papaya its orange color. Just as carrots help improve the eyesight due to the presence of beta-carotene, papayas are also known to be effective in reducing the effect of macular degeneration. According to a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, consumption of 3 or more servings of this fruit on a daily basis may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
- Relieves Constipation – The presence of folate, vitamin C, and vitamin E in papayas may reduce motion sickness by producing a tonic effect in the stomach and in the intestines. Papaya juice and the ripened form of papaya also aid in digestion. The fiber obtained from the fruit helps to increase bowel movements, says a study by a group of researchers from Austria. Improved bowel movements help ease the passage of stool, thereby reducing the effects of constipation.
- Regulates Menstruation – Papaya juice can be of great help for women with irregular menses. Consumption of green, unripe papayas can normalize the irregularity in one’s periodic cycle. Papayas are considered as a “hot food”, meaning that they produce heat in the body. This excessive production of heat in the body is thought to stimulate the estrogen hormone, inducing periods in the females. Hence, papayas can be beneficial in handling difficult menses.
- Prevents Arthritis – Papayas have been known to be effective against rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In addition to the anti-inflammatory properties discussed above, one of the enzymes found in papayas, called chymopapain, has a significant effect on controlling rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Latex derived from the raw papaya fruit is used as a meat tenderizer. Papaya is also used in the manufacturing of several cosmetic, skin, and beauty products, as well as certain chewing gums. Papaya in its raw form contains enzymes, which are used in the preparation of dietary supplements and chewing gums.
Adding papayas to your diet
Papayas can be consumed raw both in it’s ripe and unripe form. Ripe ones are often used in desserts, juices, shakes and smoothies or added in salads. Raw unripe papayas are also used for cooking and is quite popular in the Indian cuisine.
They are available for consumption throughout the year. Papayas can be consumed anytime of the day but should be avoided right after a meal. The ideal time for consuming a papaya is at night because it is rich in necessary sugars and low fat which might not deposit on the muscle layers.
Consumption of papaya in normal amounts is safe. However, there are certain side effects of consuming papaya.
- Pregnant Women: Papaya is classified as being harmful during pregnancy. Latex, present in high concentrations in raw and semi-ripe papayas, causes uterine contractions which might lead to abortions. Avoid eating raw papaya if you are pregnant.
- Gastrointestinal Irritation: Consuming too many papayas can cause a powerful laxative effect in the intestines. Avoid eating large quantities of papaya, especially if it is in its raw form. Unripe or raw papaya can cause pain in the intestines or stomach and can sometimes cause esophageal perforations.
- Seeds: The black seeds of the papaya contain traces of an enzyme called carpine, which is a potentially toxic substance. According to the International BioPark Foundation’s information about medicinal plants of the Peruvian Amazon, this enzyme can make the nerve centers numb, which could lead to paralysis or cardiac depression. In some cases, the narrowing of blood vessels is also seen, which is caused due to carpine.
Recipe for Raw papaya eriserry
Prep Time – 10 minutes, Cook Time – 20 minutes, Passive Time – 7 minutes, Servings – 5
to pressure cook
1 cup tur dal (pigeon pea)
2 cups raw papaya cubed
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp of fresh coconut
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 dry red chilli
to add while mixing
1-2 cups warm water
salt to taste
1 tsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp mustard
1 tsp Urad Dal
10 curry leaves
1 dry red chilli
1 tbsp of fresh coconut
Wash and clean the raw papaya. Remove the peel ( a bit thicker as the peel is quite bitter)
Core the young seeds by scraping with a spoon and dice the pulp into 1 inch cubes. Set aside two cups of this.
Wash one cup of tur dal ( pigeon pea), add three cups of water, turmeric powder and the cubed papaya into the pressure pan.
Seal the pressure cooker as per instructions and set on medium heat. Following two whistles simmer for about 7-10 minutes.
Let the pressure release naturally and open the cooker.
Meanwhile, Into a spice mill add 10-12 roasted almonds, cumin seeds and red chillies. powder them into a smooth finish.
Now, add this powder to the cooked vegetable and dal mix.
Add salt and warm water 1/4 cup at a time till a thick but scoopable consistency is achieved. Mix well.
In a small tempering pan( common in most indian houses, best made of cast iron and well sesaoned) add the oil, mustard seeds, red chiili, coconut and urad dal. Set on medium heat and allow the mustard to splutter. Remove from heat and add the curry leaves.
Add this tempering to the curry and serve hot with rice or flat breads.
Recipe for Papaya halwa
Recipe Servings – 4, Prep Time – 10 mins, Cook Time – 30 mins, Total Time – 40 mins
3 cups raw papaya – peeled and grated
1/4 cup artificial sweetener
3-4 chhoti elaichi – crushed
1 tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp almond essence
1/4 cup walnuts – chopped
Place the papaya in a pressure cooker along with 1/4 cup water.
Cook over high heat and when it starts to make a hissing sound, lower the heat and let cook for two minutes.
When papaya is tender, mash and add the elaichi, and stir fry till excess water (if any) is evaporated.
Heat ghee and add the walnuts, saute and keep aside.
Add the papaya mixture, and essence and stir-fry till well mixed. Mix in half the walnuts.
Shut off the heat and add the sweetener and serve hot, garnished with the rest of the walnuts.
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