Papaya is native to the Caribbean and Central America and have been long revered by the Latin American Indians. Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought papayas to many other subtropical lands to which they journeyed including India, the Philippines and parts of Africa. It was brought to the United States in the early 20th century and has been cultivated in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
It is a melon like fruit with yellow – orange flesh with dozens of small black seeds enclosed in skin that ranges in color from green to orange. In tropical countries, the common papaya trees are everywhere and are very easy to grow and are very hardy.
Papaya has high nutritional benefits and is rich in Anti-oxidants due to the huge concentration of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
- Papaya contains the digestive enzyme papain and therefore valuable for aiding digestion.
- The unique protein-digesting enzymes; papain and chymopapain have been shown to help lower inflammation and to improve healing from burns in addition to helping in digestion of proteins.
- The ripe fruit is easily digestible and prevents constipation.
- Case studies indicate that this food taken alone for two or three days has a highly beneficial tonic effect upon the stomach and intestines.
- The juice of the papaya aids in relieving infections of the colon and has a tendency to break down pus and mucus reached by the juice.
- Ripe papaya may help prevent cancer in organs and glands with epithelial tissue.
- Research has shown that papaya’s fiber is able to bind to cancer-causing toxins in the colon and keep them away from the healthy colon cells. In addition, papaya’s folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E have each been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.
- Papaya prevents nausea (includes morning sickness and motion sickness)
- Papaya may be very helpful for the prevention of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.
- Papaya is also a good source of fiber, which has been shown to lower high cholesterol levels.
- Papain breaks down the inactive proteins in the skin, removing dead tissue from burns. This benefits the body as it helps heal skin injuries, relieves psoriasis, removes warts, and treats ringworms and cold sores.
- Applying papaya on the skin will exfoliate your skin in the most gentle and natural way.Use mashed papaya for cracked and sore heels.
- Papaya is a great skin-firming and anti-aging mask. Mash the uneaten Papaya and apply on your face. It helps in removing blemishes, dark spots, evens out your skin tone and brings a glow to your face.
- Papaya is a natural exfoliator.
- Mix mashed Papaya with honey for a hydrating skin mask.
- Have antibacterial properties and are effective against E. coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus infections.
- The seeds are antihelmintic, for expelling worms and they are given with honey. Naturopaths recommend that you chew and swallow two teaspoonfuls of seeds after each principal meal (three times a day).
- May protect the kidneys from toxin-induced kidney failure.
- Can eliminate intestinal parasites.
- Help detoxify the liver.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
Papayas that are totally green or overly hard should not be purchased, as their flesh will not develop its characteristic sweet juicy flavor.
While a few black spots on the surface will not affect the papaya’s taste, avoid those that are bruised or overly soft. Papayas are more available during the summer and fall; however, you can usually purchase them throughout the year.
Papayas that are partially yellow should be left at room temperature where they will ripen in a few days. If you want to speed this process, place them in a paper bag with a banana. Ripe papayas should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within one or two days, so you can enjoy their maximum flavor.