Papaya is a delicious tropical fruit with more vitamin C than an orange. Therefore, it helps us to increase our natural defences. In addition, we can highlight the digestive properties that papain provides.
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What is papaya?
It is the fruit of a bush called Carica papaya, commonly called papaya or payers. It can reach 10 meters in height.
It has a very particular ovoid shape with greenish-yellow skin. Inside we find a fleshy orange or reddish pulp with shiny black seeds.
The texture resembles a melon with a sweet and soft pulp.
Origin of papaya
The papaya fruit is said to have its roots in Mesoamerica, with its origin likely in the southern parts of Mexico. Scholars have suggested that papaya’s natural range extends from the northern tropical border of Mexico down to Costa Rica in Central America. This information was documented in studies by Aradhya and colleagues in 1999 and by Carvalho and Renner in 2012.
Papaya is also known by other names depending on the region in which it is produced. It is known as papayón, olocotón, papaya, or milky in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. In Cuba, it is known as a fruit bomb. Also, in Argentina, Paraguay, or Chile, it is called papaya melon, tree melon, or mamón.
On the other hand, the origin of its name comes from the word carica, which comes from the Greek karaoke, which means fig tree. It was named after the similarity of its leaves. Papaya is the later adaptation of its Caribbean name.
From Mexico, its cultivation spread to other tropical regions such as Florida, Hawaii, East Africa, South Africa, India, Malaysia, and Australia.
In Spain, its cultivation is expanding, especially in the Canary Islands, Almería, and other regions southeast of the Iberian Peninsula—the country with the highest production in India, with over six million tons.
Papayas are a fruit that can be found all year round, but they tend to reach their peak during the early summer and fall seasons. Whether you’re looking for a sweet and refreshing snack or a flavorful addition to your meals, papayas can be a great choice. So watch for this tropical fruit during these times and enjoy the flavour it brings to your taste buds.
The cultivation of this fruit has recently been introduced in Spain. More specifically, there are currently stable crops in southeastern Spain, on the coasts of Malaga, Granada, Murcia, and especially Almería.
Its season in Spain goes from September to June.
You can check the calendar of the fruit season to be able to consume these foods at their most optimal moment. In addition, when they are in season, they provide us with more benefits for our health. They have a better aroma and are tastier, among other advantages.
Types of papayas
Over time, various types of papayas have developed, and there are currently a large number of varieties. In each region, different varieties are used to grow according to other weather conditions.
We can highlight the Solo, Bluestem, Graham, Betty, Fairchild, Rissimee, Puna, and Hortusgred varieties, which are the most commercialized.
The most accepted variety is the Solo, with a fruit that weighs about 450 grams. The fruit is green that takes on a yellow tone as it matures. Brown spots may appear on your skin, but it does not affect its quality. It is the variety that is produced the most and the one that is exported the most worldwide.
How to buy papayas?
Eating it freshly picked from the tree at its optimum conservation point is the idea. If you do not have this opportunity, when choosing papaya from your trusted greengrocer or market, it should have uniform, smooth skin without bruises.
Initially, it is green on the outside and changes to yellowish when it matures. The skin is excellent and delicate, so its conservation is delicate as it is a fragile fruit.
In addition, it is very perishable, so it is recommended to keep it in the refrigerator when it is at its optimum point of maturation to last a few more days.
It is also ideal to consume it cold to enhance its delicious flavour.
How do you eat papaya?
Ideally, cut the fruit in half when it is to be consumed. Then separate the seeds from the pulp helping us with a spoon. Once the seeds are discarded, the pulp is rinsed with water to remove any remaining flavour that the seeds may have left, which has a spicy flavour. Eating papaya seeds is beneficial.
Although the seeds of papayas are usually discarded, they can be eaten, and some people use them as a dressing once they have been crushed for their spicy flavour.
Once rinsed, the pulp can be extracted with a spoon or cut with a knife.
It can be eaten alone, in different salad recipes, or as a complement to seafood, fish, or meat. In addition, it is excellent for making other smoothie recipes, such as a fruit smoothie.
Properties of papaya
Due to its composition, this fruit provides us with essential nutrients. It provides us with rapidly absorbed sugars that increase with the ripening of the fruit.
The fat quantity index is shallow. Its high natural fibre content stands out, which is very beneficial to help us with intestinal regulation, diabetes, or weight loss.
Its orange colour indicates that it is a fruit rich in beta-carotene. Other vitamins, such as vitamins A and C, and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron, stand out somewhat.
It is rich in papain, an enzyme with beneficial health properties, particularly in the digestive system.
Papayas also contain healthy antioxidants known as carotenoids, particularly lycopene. In addition, the antioxidants in papayas are very easy to assimilate.
Average nutritional composition of raw papaya per 100 grams:
|Dietary fiber||1,9 g|
|C vitamin||61,9 mg|
|Pantothenic acid||0,22 mg|
|Vitamin A||1095 UI|
|Beta carotene||278 mcg|
Benefits of papaya
The healing properties of papaya are popularly known. Also, papaya has many health benefits, making this fruit very nutritious.
Among the different benefits that papaya gives us are the following:
1. Natural diuretic
It is a tropical fruit with a lot of pulp, making its water supply very high. This water supply of approximately 90% makes this food an excellent natural diuretic.
2. Helps our natural defences
Papaya is rich in vitamin C, and a 100-gram serving provides the recommended amount. Believe it or not, papaya offers more vitamin C than an orange. In addition, vitamin C is an essential ally of our natural defences.
3. Antioxidant fruit
It is a food rich in vitamin C and a powerful antioxidant. Therefore, it helps us balance free radicals in our bodies.
Free radicals are reactive molecules created during the metabolic process. In addition, these molecules can promote oxidative stress, which could lead to some diseases.
The carotenoids, antioxidants, and other antioxidants having papayas can neutralize free radicals.
4. Natural intestinal regulator
They are sweet fruits that provide us with a large amount of fibre. Natural fibre regulates intestinal transit helping us with constipation.
Papaya has been shown in scientific studies to improve constipation and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In addition, fibre benefits us with the control of glucose in the blood, which is a favourite food for those with diabetes.
5. Ideal for weight loss diets
It is ideal for diets to lose weight since it has a lot of water and tab, which makes it a satiating food. In addition, it only provides us with 38 kcal and only 0.14 grams of fat for every 100 grams of papaya.
6. Helps against inflammatory processes
It seems that chronic inflammation is the root of a multitude of diseases. Indeed, our diet and unhealthy lifestyle can boost the inflammatory process.
As shown by different studies, the carotenoids in papayas help reduce inflammation.
7. Helps digestion
Papaya contains an enzyme with a proteolytic function similar to human pepsin. It is papain.
Papain helps us with heavy digestion, as it helps us digest proteins better. It is recommended for people with digestive problems such as gastritis.
Other fruits have similar enzymes. This is the case of pineapple, which has an enzyme with properties identical to papain called bromelain.
8. Favorable for heart health
Eating papaya can help improve heart health. Also, different studies show that the high content of lycopene, vitamin C, and other antioxidants is favourable to helping prevent heart disease.
9. Helps to have healthy skin
Excess free radicals in our body may be partly responsible for wrinkles, sagging, and other skin damage that occurs with age.
A study shows that the antioxidants in this fruit, such as vitamin C and lycopene, protect the skin and can help reduce these signs of aging.
Also, these antioxidants can help your skin recover from sun damage.
Used in natural cosmetics
Papaya is also used in natural cosmetics, as it helps improve the hair’s beauty. It also gives us healthy skin thanks to its moisturizing, regenerative, and exfoliating properties.
Beta-carotene helps us protect our skin, especially when exposed to the sun.
Contraindications of papaya
It is a fruit that provides us with different benefits to our health thanks to its nutritional properties. It is true that it also has some contraindications and side effects that we must know about.
Its consumption can cause stomach problems and even diarrhea. As a natural diuretic, it should not be consumed excessively when taking a diuretic treatment since it dangerously enhances the diuretic effects.
In some cases, it can cause an allergic reaction. It is known that if we have a latex allergy, we may also have an allergy to papaya because of its composition, although it is rare.
It is always advisable to eat this ripe fruit. However, if it is green, cooking it before eating it is advisable.
According to the following study, green papaya is not recommended for pregnant women, as it is high in latex and can stimulate contractions.
It is better to consult a nutritionist or health professional if there is any doubt.
In conclusion, papaya is a sweet, refreshing, easy-to-consume food. In addition, it provides us with various nutrients such as papain, minerals, and vitamins that make this fruit an ideal breath to incorporate into our diet.
My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.