Quite long year’s back, papaya trees were worshipped and considered as “Tree of Life” and the fruit was called as “Fruit of the Angels” by Christopher Columbus. I know history has some other reason to explain these terms. But for me, after knowing the importance of papayas for health and well-being, the terms given to papaya is apt. Now, what are the benefits of papaya that we should be aware of? Papayas are such a fruit that it is loaded with essential nutrients, very tasty, easily digestible and very affordable with an immense number of health benefits.
Do you know that Papaya can be used for hair growth also? Read here to know more…
Papaya, which was considered as exotic and rare fruits, is now readily available in the market during most of the time of the year. It is also known as pawpaw and papaws and is eaten in the ripe state or even added into the curries in the raw state.
As a fruit, it is delicious with buttery, the soft orange flesh inside the peel and is easily affordable. Now the flavour and taste is fine but why do you need to incorporate papayas in our everyday diet? That’s because of its nutritional composition and its amazing nutritional, health, medicinal features. Now let us know the nutritional composition of papayas because that can give an insight of how beneficial papayas are for health.
Nutritive Value of Papayas
- The best part of papaya fruit is that it is low in calories (about 39 calories/100 gms). It contains phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals in good amounts. So gorging on papaya fruits is not a bad idea.
- It contains soluble dietary fibre and hence papayas are soft and easily digestible.
- Ripe papayas are also the richest source of Vitamin C (68.1 mg or 103% of the dietary recommended intake). Hence, I would rather say Vitamin C content in papaya fruit is more than that present in Oranges or lemons. Apart from Vitamin C, it is also an excellent source of Vitamin A (1094 IU/ 100 gms) and also contains flavonoids like β- carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. The B complex vitamins that are present in papaya fruit are folic acid, pyridoxine, thiamin and riboflavin.
- Apart from essential vitamins that are present in papaya, it also contains minerals like potassium (257 mg/ 100gms) and calcium.
Health Benefits of Papaya
A gist of the nutritional composition of papaya has helped us to know that how essential this fruit is from the health point of view.
Papaya Aids in Digestion
- The enzyme papain that is present in papaya improves the efficiency of digestion in our body. This enzyme is also used as the meat tenderizer.
- Apart from the enzyme, papaya consists of soluble fibre which can help in preventing constipation and improve the health of the digestive tract.
Papaya Reduces the Progression of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
- The vision loss that occurs in older people can be due to age-related macular degeneration. The diet recommended for this condition is fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin A. Antioxidants have the ability to reduce, prevent and repair macular degeneration.
- Papayas being rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin and Vitamins like Vitamin C and Vitamin A are beneficial in reducing eye related diseases. Fresh papayas consumed during breakfast, added as a salad during lunch and also in the dinner can be helpful in protecting our eyes from several types of diseases.
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- The antioxidants present in papaya help in delaying the ageing of the skin and help us to get a younger look.
- It is useful in getting rid of acne and other skin related problems as it opens up the pores, Papaya face packs are very popular for a younger, glowing skin.
- Papain and chymopapain, the enzymes present in papaya improves wound healing and prevents the infection around the burned areas.
Papaya Protects Against Heart Diseases
- When cholesterol gets oxidised, it sticks and builds up in the blood vessels, thus forming plaques that can eventually cause heart attacks and stroke.
- The presence of antioxidants like Vitamin A and Vitamin C in papaya helps to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. The fibre that is present in papaya helps in lowering the high cholesterol levels. The dietary change that any person who is at risk of heart diseases has been increasing the potassium intake with low sodium intake. Papayas are rich in potassium and help to ward off the heart diseases.
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Papayas for Weight Loss
- Fresh papayas are a good choice for the weight loss regimen as papayas are low in calories. Having foods that are low in energy density can make your stomach feel full without adding on the calories.
- Hence, a cup of fresh cut papaya can provide just 62 calories. This serving of papaya can provide 0.4 gms fat, 0.7 gms protein and 15.7 gms of carbohydrates.
- Apart from this, it provides 2.5 gms of fibre which adds up to 10% of the daily intake. Fibre in food increases the bulk in the diet, slows down the emptying of the stomach, thus reducing the intake of food throughout the day.
- Hence substitute the sweetened cookies, candies or dessert with a bowl of freshly cut papayas that is low in calories and fat, which is needed to achieve the weight loss goal.
- Prefer fresh papayas rather than canned ones as canned papayas can add up to the calories due to the presence of sugar syrup in it. Apart from this, canned papayas can lose a lot of nutrients during the canning process.
- Hence, the presence of antioxidants, minerals and enzymes in papayas are also beneficial for various conditions like inflammation, osteoporosis, asthma and even cancer.
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Vitamins in Papaya
Though it is clear what the functions of each vitamin in papaya are, we also need to know in what amounts the vitamins are present in papayas.
The Vitamin A in papaya is in the form of carotenoids, that contains beta carotene, which prevents the damage of the cells in our body by free radicals. 1 cup of papaya provides 137.5 International Unit of Vitamin A, which makes up to 28% of the daily value.
Another antioxidant vitamin that is present in papaya in most significant amount is Vitamin C. I cup of papaya provides 88.3 mg of Vitamin C that make up to 147 % of the daily value.
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One serving of papaya contains 53.7 micrograms of folate which make up to 13 % of the daily value. This nutrient is essential during the early pregnancy because folate prevents neural tube birth defect. So, having papayas during pregnancy is always an essential option. Apart from folate, it also contains thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E and Vitamin K in minor amounts.
Hence papaya, an essential fruit, can be eaten as it is or you can incorporate it in salads, prepare papaya smoothies or add it in desserts or puddings.