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Papaya is a dominant fruit in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It belongs to the family of Caricaceae. Have you ever wondered from where the papaya fruit originated? The papaya fruit is native to tropical America and was first grown in Mexico. The Portuguese introduced Papaya to India. It was called the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus. Papaya is also known as “Pawpaw”.

The taste of papaya is often compared to melons, but less sweet. The real taste of papaya can only be realized when it is fully ripe. The colour of papaya is green when it is raw. When it is half ripe, it is half green and half yellow. Once it is fully ripe, the colour of papaya can vary from yellow to orange. This fruit has a wide variety of health benefits. The taste of papaya and its wide range of health benefits make it a very popular and relished fruit. It is available almost throughout the year. People usually include this fruit in their breakfast and fruit salads.

Papaya is an ideal fruit that can be easily grown in our kitchen gardens and backyards of our homes. It grows quickly and starts bearing fruits within 8 to 10 months after it is planted. It is a refreshing and delicious fruit. It is full of vitamins. It can be eaten as a fruit with salt and pepper and also with sugar or lime. Unripe fruit can be eaten as a vegetable. We can also make pickles out of it.

Papaya fruit contains an enzyme called papain and it is used in cosmetics, manufacture of chewing gums, pharmaceutical industries, in adhesives etc. It is believed that almost 40 types of papaya are cultivated throughout the world. They are pear-shaped fruits that can grow up to 20 inches long. Papaya has hundreds of soft, black gelatinous seeds. Each piece can weigh between 0.49 kg to 1 kg. The ones commonly found in the market are usually about 7 inches long and weigh about 1 kg. It can be eaten raw as a fruit, made into a smoothie or even a milkshake. It contains natural fiber, carotene, vitamin C and other essential minerals. The entire papaya plant including the root, bark, peel, seeds, and pulp are also known to have medicinal properties.

In India, papaya is grown in many parts of the country. Major producers of this fruit include Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala in the south, West Bengal, Assam and Orissa in the east Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh in the west and central India. India is the largest producer of papaya in the world. It produces about 3 million tonnes of papaya which is half of the total world production of papaya. India also exports papaya to its neighboring countries such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and the Netherlands.

Some basic facts about Papaya:

  • Botanical name: Carica papaya.
  • Family: Caricaceae
  • Common name: Papaya is popularly called as papaw or pawpaw. It is also sometimes referred to as “tree melon”
  • Sanskrit name: Erand karkati
  • Parts used: The fruit, leaves, flowers, stems, roots, and seeds can all be used for different purposes.
  • Origin: It is native to Mexico and northern South America. But now they are grown in almost all tropical areas of the world.
  • Interesting Facts: June is considered the national papaya month.
  1. Papaya nutrition facts
  2. Papaya health benefits
  3. Papaya side effects
  4. Takeaway

Papaya is rich in water content. This along with its fiber content can help people suffering from constipation. Papaya is also rich in minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium. Papaya has less sodium in it. The high potassium, low sodium content in papaya makes it ideal for people who suffer from cardiovascular diseases. Rich in Vitamin A and C, papaya is a good source to protect your skin and keep it moisturized and healthy.

As per the USDA Nutrient Database, 100 g of raw papaya contains the following nutrients

Nutrient Value per 100 g
Water 88.06 g
Energy 43 kcal
Protein 0.47 g
Fat 0.26 g
Carbohydrate 10.82 g
Fiber 1.7 g
Sugars 7.82 g

 

Minerals Value per 100 g
Calcium 20 mg
Iron 0.25 mg
Magnesium 21 mg
Phosphorus 10 mg
Potassium 182 mg
Sodium 8 mg
Zinc 0.08 mg

 

Vitamins Value per 100 g
Vitamin A 47 µg
Vitamin B1 0.023 mg
Vitamin B2 0.027 mg
Vitamin B3 0.357 mg
Vitamin B6 0.038 mg
Vitamin B9 37 µg
Vitamin C 60.9 mg
Vitamin E 0.3 mg
Vitamin K 2.6 µg

 

Fats Value per 100 g
Fatty acids, saturated 0.081 g
Fatty acids, monounsaturated 0.072 g
Fatty acids, polyunsaturated 0.058 g

Papaya for skin ulcers

The entire papaya plant including its fruit, bark, leaves, and seeds are known to have medicinal properties. This is primarily because of the high content of various minerals, particularly vitamin A, B and C and an enzyme called papain that papaya contains. Another enzyme chymopapain is also known to be beneficial. It is because of these vitamins and enzymes that papaya has antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. A study conducted on papaya showed that papaya seeds have the ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria and can be used to effectively treat chronic skin ulcers.

Papaya for asthma

Beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment that is essential to prevent asthma. This pigment is abundantly present in certain vegetables and fruits. One among those fruits is papaya. Togo, a place in West Africa continues to use plant-based medicine to treat many conditions. A study was conducted to see if this plant-based medicine of Togo can be used to treat asthma. Out of the 98 plants that were used for the study, one of the most important plants was papaya. Through this study, researchers were able to see initial evidence of using these plants to treat asthma.

Papaya for malaria treatment

Research has been going on to find new antimalarial drugs. Researches used a few traditional plants that people from southwest India use to treat malaria. Among these plants was papaya. Specific plant parts of these plants have shown a significant effect in preventing malaria.

Papaya benefits for dengue

Dengue fever is a viral disease and spread mainly through mosquito bites. This disease affects many people in the world and in some cases this disease leads to death. Research has been going on, to find a cure for this disease. A study shows that the juice of the papaya plant can help increase the platelet count of the affected patient. Another study shows that extract from the leaves of papaya can help reduce the fever.

Papaya benefits for heart

Too much cholesterol build up can lead to a number of heart diseases such as heart attack, hypertension etc. The fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C present in papaya can help prevent the accumulation and oxidation of cholesterol in the arteries. So the chances of strokes are considerably reduced by adding more papaya to your diet.

Papaya for Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disease that causes dementia in the elderly. Patients with AD suffer a gradual deterioration of memory and other cognitive functions, which eventually leads to complete incapacity and death. Research shows that papaya is very effective in treating patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Papaya benefits for skin

Papaya is rich in vitamin C and lycopene which protect the skin and may also help reduce premature ageing. A study showed that consumption of a mixture of lycopene, vitamin C, and other antioxidants can help reduce wrinkles. Another study showed that the use of lycopene supplement for 10-12 weeks showed a remarkable reduction in skin redness caused by overexposure to the sun.

Papaya for diabetes

Diabetes can be controlled by making a few changed to your diet. This includes increased intake of fiber, weight reducing strategies, and adding fruits, vegetables, and legumes that have a greater effect on forcing the action of insulin. Recent studies indicate that intake of fermented papaya preparation (FPP) supplements may cater to this problem. It has been inferred that the oral administration of FPP has the ability to produce a considerable decline in the level of plasma sugar in healthy persons as well as in patients with type-II diabetes.

Papaya for inflammation

Papaya is a rich source of beta-carotene and other antioxidants. Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many diseases and unhealthy foods and lifestyle can further aggravate it. Studies show that high intake of carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruits in healthy, nonsmoking men indicated a decrease in inflammation.

Papaya for colon cancer

Colon cancer can be prevented to a great extent by the nutrients available in papaya. The healthy colon cells are prevented from binding with the cancer-causing toxins in the colon by the fiber present in papaya.

Papaya for digestion

An enzyme called papain is present in Papaya aids in digestion. From a therapeutic point of view, papain is held in high esteem for its digestive properties, which help to digest the protein in the food. Prevention of constipation, bloating, heartburn, painful bowel movements, and promotion of a regular and healthy digestive tract are possible because of the rich fiber and water content in papaya.

  1. Causes allergy and irritation
    Papaya may possibly cause allergic reactions in a few people. The latex of papaya may irritate the skin. When a large number of papaya leaves are taken, they tend to irritate the stomach. It is also believed that papaya juice and papaya leaves tend to have adverse effects when taken orally. The papain in it tends to cause swelling, dizziness, headache, rashes, itching etc.

  2. Papaya may cause miscarriage
    Papaya may be harmful to pregnant women. It can cause abortion. It is considered as a ‘hot’ fruit. Raw and semi-ripe papayas have latex which is present in high concentrations causing uterine contractions which might lead to abortions. Research says that abortion can be induced by eating unripe papaya for three consecutive days. And daily consumption of the ripe fruit can be an effective contraceptive. Further, research also states that papain in papaya suppresses progesterone (a sex hormone) that is needed to prepare the uterus for conception. Papain may also damage certain membranes in the woman’s body that are essential for fetal development. Papaya may not also be safe during breastfeeding. There is some speculation in this regard, and research is not very clear. It is advisable to consult your physician before consuming papaya.

  1. Papaya may damage the food pipe
    Overconsumption of papaya may possibly result in the damage of the esophagus, the food pipe that connects your throat to the stomach.

  1. Papaya may cause low blood sugar
    There is limited research on this but, some sources suggest that people suffering from low blood sugar will experience a further fall in the sugar level with the consumption of fermented papaya. It may also drastically reduce the blood pressure of persons who already suffer from low blood pressure.

  1. Papaya may lower male fertility
    Papaya seeds extracts are believed to have a negative effect on male fertility. It reduces the mobility of sperms in males. Research conducted on male rats showed that reversible sterility could be induced in male rats using papaya seeds’ aqueous extract treatment without adverse effects on libido and toxicological profile. Fertility and other associated changes returned to normal within 30 - 45 days after the consumption of papaya seeds was stopped.

All parts of the papaya fruit are useful and highly beneficial. The seeds of the papaya, the leaves and the flesh of the fruit, all of it has some value. Although this fruit has potential side-effects, consuming this fruit moderately will do more benefit and keep you healthy. So enjoy your papayas and stay healthy.

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References

  1. National Horticulture Board, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India. PAPAYA
  2. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Basic Report: 09226, Papayas, raw . National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release [Internet]
  3. Dawkins G, Hewitt H, Wint Y, Obiefuna PC, Wint B. Antibacterial effects of Carica papaya fruit on common wound organisms. West Indian Med J. 2003 Dec;52(4):290-2. PMID: 15040064
  4. Gbekley HE et al. ETHNOBOTANICAL STUDY OF PLANTS USED TO TREAT ASTHMA IN THE MARITIME REGION IN TOGO. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2016 Nov 23;14(1):196-212. PMID: 28480398
  5. Bhat GP, Surolia N. In vitro antimalarial activity of extracts of three plants used in the traditional medicine of India. . Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2001 Oct;65(4):304-8. PMID: 11693874
  6. N Sarala, SS Paknikar. Papaya Extract to Treat Dengue: A Novel Therapeutic Option? Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2014 May-Jun; 4(3): 320–324. PMID: 24971201
  7. Nisar Ahmad et al. Dengue fever treatment with Carica papaya leaves extracts. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2011 Aug; 1(4): 330–333. PMID: 23569787
  8. Barbagallo M, Marotta F, Dominguez LJ. Oxidative stress in patients with Alzheimer's disease: effect of extracts of fermented papaya powder. Mediators Inflamm. 2015;2015:624801. PMID: 25944987
  9. Jenkins G, Wainwright LJ, Holland R, Barrett KE1, Casey J. Wrinkle reduction in post-menopausal women consuming a novel oral supplement: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized study.. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2014 Feb;36(1):22-31. PMID: 23927381
  10. Watzl B, Kulling SE, Möseneder J, Barth SW, Bub A. A 4-wk intervention with high intake of carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruit reduces plasma C-reactive protein in healthy, nonsmoking men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Nov;82(5):1052-8. PMID: 16280438
  11. Muss C, Mosgoeller W, Endler T. Papaya preparation (Caricol®) in digestive disorders. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2013;34(1):38-46. PMID: 23524622
  12. Asiaweek. 1994 May 18:12. The natural way. A tropical contraceptive. PMID: 12288101
  13. Lohiya NK1, Goyal RB, Jayaprakash D, Ansari AS, Sharma S. Antifertility effects of aqueous extract of Carica papaya seeds in male rats. Planta Med. 1994 Oct;60(5):400-4.PMID: 7997464