Papaya is Delicious and Loaded With Nutrients
Papaya is the fruit of the Carica papaya plant.
Christopher Columbus reportedly called it “fruit of the angels” because it tasted so good.
The papaya originated in Central America and Southern Mexico, but is now grown in many other parts of the world.
Papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which can break down the tough protein chains found in muscle meat. Because of this, people have used papaya to tenderize meat for thousands of years.
If the papaya is ripe, it can be eaten raw. However, unripe papaya should always be cooked before eating, especially during pregnancy. That’s because the unripe fruit has a high latex content, which can stimulate contractions (1).
Papayas are shaped similar to a pear, and can be up to 20 inches long. The skin is green when unripe, and orange when ripe. The flesh inside is yellow, orange or red.
It Has Powerful Antioxidant Effects
Half Green Papaya
Free radicals are reactive molecules created during your body’s metabolism.
They do perform certain important functions, including helping to destroy harmful bacteria (3).
However, when you have too many of them, your body is said to be in a state of oxidative stress, which can lead to disease.
Antioxidants, including the carotenoids found in papayas, can neutralize free radicals so that they are no longer able to cause harm (4).
Studies have found that fermented papaya can reduce oxidative stress in the elderly and people with prediabetes, mild hypothyroidism and liver disease (5, 6, 7, 8).
Also, many researchers believe that excessive free radicals in the brain are an important factor in Alzheimer’s disease (9).
Papaya Has Anti-Cancer Properties
Woman in Orange Apron Holding Papaya
Research suggests that the lycopene in papaya can reduce cancer risk (12).
It may also be beneficial for people who are being treated for cancer (14).
Papaya’s cancer-fighting ability appears to be due to its ability to reduce free radicals that contribute to cancer development and progression.
Additionally, papaya may have some unique effects that aren’t shared by other fruits.
Among 14 fruits and vegetables with known antioxidant properties, only papaya demonstrated anti-cancer activity in breast cancer cells (15).
The Antioxidants in Papaya May Improve Heart Health
Adding more papaya to your diet may be beneficial for your heart.
Studies show that lycopene- and vitamin C-rich fruits may help prevent heart disease (17, 18).
The antioxidants in papaya may protect your heart and enhance the protective effects of HDL, the “good” cholesterol (19, 20).
In one study, people who took a fermented papaya supplement for 14 weeks had less inflammation and a better LDL:HDL ratio than people who were given a placebo. An improved ratio is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease