The papaya is very similar to a large cantaloupe , and can be eaten unripe or ripe that. The degree of ripeness of the fruit allows you to obtain preparations with very different flavors.
The nutritional properties of papaya have elevated this fruit to ” super food “. Papaya fruit has important nutritional values as it is low in calories , only 28 calories per 100 grams . In fact, this tropical fruit is rich in many vitamins, precious antioxidant compounds, minerals and fibers. A particular feature is the presence of proteolytic enzymes that promote the digestive process and intestinal function .
Furthermore, thanks to its antioxidant properties, It is ideal for maintaining the well-being of the whole organism, counteracting the effects of aging. Fermented papaya has become very famous in recent years and many studies have been done on its benefits to stimulate the immune system and fight free radicals.
In the kitchen, with it, you can prepare smoothies, sweets, ice cream, jams and candies. The pulp is also dried and consumed as dried fruit.
Papaya: what it is
The papaya or papaya (Carica papaya L.) is a plant native fruit of Central America that extends from Mexico to Panama. Its cultivation is currently widespread in many other regions with tropical or temperate climate but with hot and humid summers, such as:
- Hawaii islands.
Fermented papaya: how to consume it and health benefits
The preparations based on fermented papaya may also be of some interest, often combined with other plant extracts (such as green tea, pomegranate, grapes, etc.) with the same antioxidant and immunostimulating activity.
These products can be a valid integration in the prevention therapy of some diseases, especially neuro-degenerative ones , to be used preferably under medical supervision.
By using fermented papaya, a nutraceutical supplement with favorable effects on immunological, hematological, inflammatory and OS parameters in chronic / degenerative diseases, a significant reduction in oxidative stress was found in patients with Alzheimer’s, with a consequent slowing of the pathological state.
Discover the study on fermented papaya and Alzheimer’s .
In addition, fermented papaya has been shown to reduce apoptosis related to oxidative stress and the activation of inflammatory cytokines and to counteract DNA damage related to the production of free radicals.
Studies conducted on chronic and degenerative diseases, such as thalassemia, cirrhosis and diabetes have shown that fermented papaya favorably modulates the parameters of stress damage :
Papaya: nutritional values
This fruit has an excellent amount of vitamins, many more than other fruits, mainly:
- provitamin A (beta-carotene)
- C vitamin
- all the B vitamins
- folic acid
- Vitamin E.
The picture is completed by a good content of dietary fibers, antioxidant agents, such as carotenoids and bioflavonoids , and two proteolytic enzymes, papain and chymopapaine, capable of facilitating the proteolytic process, that is of splitting proteins into amino acids.
The seeds are particularly rich in phenolic compounds.
The oil extracted from the seed mainly presents oleic fatty acid (omega-9) and palmitic, linoleic (omega-6) and stearic acids, while the leaves have a high content of:
- dietary fiber
- polyphenolic compounds
- benzyl isothiocyanate.
The health benefits of papaya
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Papaya is an excellent source of antioxidants. Vitamin C, Provitamin A (beta carotene), Lutein, Zeaxanthin.
Lycopene and other flavonoids make up a package of antioxidant substances that perform an important protective action on our body. In fact, these antioxidant substances help us to counteract the effect of some reactive oxygen compounds (ROS) produced by the body during normal cellular metabolism.
According to the most recent studies, papaya antioxidants can effectively intervene in slowing down the degenerative processes that lead to the aging of the organism caused by those responsible for oxidative damage.
In addition, the anti-inflammatory benefits deriving from the antioxidants present in the fruit can support the proper functioning of the immune system, can help protect against macular degeneration and have a significant antineoplastic activity, with a reduction in the risk of the onset of tumors, in particular to the prostate, colon and, according to a recent survey, breastfeeding.
Papaya papain also exerts an anti-inflammatory effect in cases of trauma and allergies.
Beneficial for the cardiovascular system
The nutrients present in the composition of papaya have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, protecting it from cardiovascular diseases caused by free radicals due to oxidative stress. It has also been reported to aid in the treatment of diabetes mellitus and in lowering cholesterol levels.
Both the pulp and the other parts of the plant (leaves and seeds) thanks to their antioxidant, antihypertensive, hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic actions, actively participate in maintaining the state of well-being of the entire cardiovascular system, in the prevention and treatment of obesity and associated metabolic disorders, i.e. cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.
The high fiber content of this fruit also generates a decrease in fat absorption.
Digestive fruit and laxative
Thanks to the content of proteolytic enzymes, papain and chimopapaine, particularly abundant in unripe fruits, papaya performs an effective valuable action in case of difficult digestion due to a poor production of gastric juices, or in the presence of inflammatory states such as:
- chronic and ulcerative colitis
- irritable colon.
In addition, the fruit is effective in increasing intestinal motility and transit time, helping in cases of chronic constipation.
Wormproof, antiparasitic and anti-microbial
Latex and papaya leaves act as excellent wormers in the case of infections of worms and intestinal parasites, in particular against tapeworms.
It also has antimicrobial, anti-amoebic, antiparasitic and anti-malaria actions. The use of leaf extract has shown antimicrobial activity on the inhibition of some human pathogens, such as, for example, Escherichia coli.
In addition, the seeds have proven particularly useful against human intestinal parasites (Caernorhabditis elegans).
The studies also showed inhibitory effects on Plasmodium falciparum (malaria) to a greater extent than the different extracts of other plants tested.
Papaya could alleviate the consequences of dengue fever
One study evaluated the effectiveness of papaya leaf extract as a therapy for thrombocytopenia associated with dengue fever.
Dengue is a viral disease that represents a rapidly expanding global health problem.
In fact, around 2.5 billion people live in dengue-prone regions with around 100 million new cases every year worldwide. The management of the infection is essentially supportive and symptomatic and no specific treatment is available to increase the blood platelets that have been lost, which have a significant role in causing the patient’s mortality with dengue.
It appears that papaya leaf extract is effective in determining platelet growth in cases of thrombocytopenia in patients with dengue fever.
Contraindications and side effects
Papaya seems to be well tolerated and phenomena of sensitivity or allergy to this fruit can rarely be encountered. The latex contained in the peel could more easily provoke allergic reactions. However, in general, there are no particular contraindications to consumption.
However, pregnant women must make moderate use of it since papain and chymopapaine can stimulate uterine contractions and cause abortion phenomena.
Furthermore, the combination of enzymes, alkaloids and other substances present in the papaya would also alter the levels of circulating estrogens.
Its phytochemicals are believed to suppress the effects of progesterone (hormone produced by the woman during the menstrual cycle), which plays an important role in the development of the fetus.
In fact, in Asia papaya seeds are used as a natural male contraceptive.
Finally, particular attention should be observed by those who are receiving anticoagulants and platelet aggregation inhibitors, as papaya may potentiate their effects. In these cases, it is always preferable to consult your doctor before consuming the fruit.
Papaya: use in beauty
The antiseptic, healing, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics of the fruit are effective not only for the health of the internal organs of the body, but also for the external well-being of the epidermis.
The fruit applied in the form of juice and as compresses can benefit some skin problems, such as:
- the onset of wrinkles and blemishes.
In fact, the interest that the cosmetic industry has turned towards the papaya plant is not accidental, using the extracts that actively participate in improving the health of the skin, inserting them among the ingredients of creams and other beauty products.
Anti-aging beauty mask with papaya
This anti-aging peeling is suitable for all skin types, even the most sensitive ones. It gives a hydrated, elastic and soft skin. Papaya helps eliminate dead skin cells while lemon stimulates collagen and reduces blemishes. In addition, honey helps the skin to regenerate while egg red shrinks the pores and tones the skin.
- egg yolk 1
- ripe papaya
- juice of half a lemon
- honey 1 tbsp
- white yogurt 2 tbsp.
Peel and cut the papaya. Remove the seeds and blend them. Add the papaya and mix everything together. In a container, add the papaya and seeds, egg yolk, yogurt, lemon and honey and mix until a homogeneous paste is obtained.
Spread the mask on face and neck avoiding the eye area. Leave on for about 15 minutes. Finally, massage face and neck and rinse with warm water. Apply a moisturizer.
Papaya: excellent healing and mouthwash
For external use it exerts a cicatrizing action in case of wounds and sores slow to heal.
It would be particularly effective in cases of gingival bleeding.
A research has developed both a toothpaste and a mouthwash containing papaya leaf extract, testing them in a controlled trial on subjects with interdental gingival bleeding. The investigation verified a drastic reduction in the problem.
Check out the study on bleeding gums and papaya .
Papaya: how to eat
Different parts of the papaya plant lend themselves to being consumed in different ways. The tender and young leaves are used for antimalarial, antibacterial and deworming herbal teas.
Ripe fruits are used more or less like melons. Their taste reminds them a lot, but on the palate it is more buttery and with a soft peach fragrance. They are cut in half, stripped of the seeds (also edible), peeled and served cut into small pieces, accompanied by the juice of a lemon or lime wedge, which enhances the flavor. The unripe fruit is also edible, but less sweet. Instead, the green fruit is used in the preparation of salads but also in cakes and ice cream.
The dried seeds are mildly aromatic and can be used as a light spice , but they can also be eaten fresh.
It can also be found for consumption in fermented form, or transformed into jam, jelly, and candies. Furthermore, it is also used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry .
Use in the kitchen
The habit of consuming papaya fruit traditionally belongs to the customs of tropical and subtropical populations , where availability is abundant. The ripe fruit can be eaten raw, seasoned with a little sugar and lemon juice, alone, or in fruit salads and salads. The pulp of very ripe fruit can be centrifuged or blended , seasoned and served as a thirst-quenching drink, or frozen and eaten as a granita.
In addition, the ripe fruit can be consumed in the form of refreshing and thirst-quenching juice , also in combination with the juice of other fruits.
The pulp is also suitable for boiling to accompany meat-based second courses as a side dish. A fairly common dish is papaya stuffed with minced beef cooked in the oven .
Green Papaya: Thai recipes
The unripe and still green fruits are suitable for the preparation of salads. In Thailand the unripe fruit is finely chopped as the basis for the composition of a very popular spicy salad called ” som tam “, prepared with garlic, tomatoes, green beans, lime and toasted peanuts. The original recipe calls for the use of fish or fish sauce, but there is also a vegetarian version with soy sauce.
Green papaya can also be eaten boiled like zucchini or preserved and eaten as a pickle.
Also in the countries of origin, seeds are also consumed, eaten raw or dried and chopped as a mildly aromatic spice to season the meat.
In the Philippines It is prepared as an appetizer / dressing in a very interesting recipe called ” papaya Atchara or Atcharang “. It is based on pickled green papaya, julienne cut or grated which is put in airtight containers and left to soak for a week in a mixture of vinegar and sugar cooked with onions, garlic, ginger, pepper and red pepper.
The tropical smoothie with papaya
Total calories: 100 / calories per person: 100
- pink grapefruit
- 2 kiwis
- ½ papaya.
Squeeze the grapefruit with the juicer.
Cut the ends of the kiwis, remove the peel, cut it into pieces and put it in the blender glass.
Cut the papaya in two, peel it and remove the seeds. Cut it into pieces and add it to the kiwi.
Now pour the grapefruit juice and blend everything until you get a smoothie of the density you prefer.
There are about fifty varieties of papaya grown in the world.
As far as its cultivars are concerned, the varietal panorama is characterized by specific cultivars for each production region. The main cultivars sold on the European Union market belong to the group of “Maradol”, “Solo”, “Golden”, “Sunrise” and “Formosa”.
Instead, the best known varieties on the Italian market are: “Solo”, “Hortus Gold”, “Cera”, “Kagdum” and “Semangka”.
In Mesoamerica, indigenous peoples had marked their lifestyle and food in the domestication of a wide variety of plant species, including papaya. The Guilá Naquitz Cave (Oaxaca) has provided the oldest and most reliable evidence of agricultural experiments dating back to over 8,000 years before Christ.
At the time of the greatest development of civilizations in southern Mexico and the Yucatan peninsula (500 AD) the Mayan populations had achieved a great development of the agricultural system focused on the cultivation of corn, followed by beans, pumpkins, chillies, cocoa, cotton, vanilla, cassava, agave and papaya. The Mayans held the papaya plant in high regard, recognizing its great health contribution.
With the arrival of Columbus on the New Continent, the Spaniards had the opportunity to locate the plant in the Isthmus of Panama. The Spanish and Portuguese explorers, in the years that followed, brought the seeds first to the Caribbean and Brazil, then to the Philippines, Malaysia, the Pacific Islands, India and Africa, introducing the plant in habitats similar to the original ones where easily adapted both spontaneously and in crops.
Production in the world
Today papaya grows in most of the world’s hot tropical and subtropical regions.
Around the 1950s and 1960s, papaya production underwent a severe downsizing due to the spread of a couple of lethal viruses for plants, namely the Papaya mosaic virus (PapMV) and, above all, the PRSV (Papaya RingSpot Virus ). However, thanks to modern genetic modification techniques, plants resistant to the two viruses have been created , which however remain and have not yet been eradicated. The infection is kept under control.
In the last decade, papaya cultivation has also spread to the Mediterranean basin , Spain, Israel and Sicily , where it is produced in greenhouses located mainly in coastal areas. These are very small productions that can economically represent a possible alternative to some traditional crops now in crisis.
Despite the widespread use, the bulk of world papaya production is highly concentrated in a few countries.