Papayas are sweet with musky and peppery undertones. They have a soft, butter-like consistency. The seeds are black and are completely edible.
The papaya fruit and other parts of the tree contain an enzyme called papain. Papain is especially concentrated in the unripe fruit. It can be extracted to make dietary supplements and sometimes used as an ingredient in chewing gum.
One cup of papaya has only 100 calories, yet it’s chock full of nutrition. Papaya is an excellent source of Vitamin C and a great food choice to boost your immune system. It also has nice amounts of folate and potassium to help balance the body’s water and salts.
In addition, a cup of papaya has 17% of the daily value of both Vitamin A and E and 9% of the daily value of Vitamin K. Papayas are also a good source of fiber.
Papaya’s fall into the orange fruit category known to contain substantial amounts of carotenoids and bioflavonoids. Both of these phytochemicals promote good health by assisting in the prevention of cataracts, pulmonary disease, and diverticulitis.
Anti-Inflammatory: Papaya contains the enzymes papain and chymopapain which have been shown to reduce inflammation and promote the healing from burns. The papaya also contains Vitamin C and E, and beta-carotene, which also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Anti-Parasitic: The papaya seeds are anti-parasitic and can assist in expelling worms from the digestive tract. Mix two teaspoons of seeds with a teaspoon of honey and eat three times a day after meals.
Digestive System Friendly: Papaya enzymes are a friend to your digestive system. The ripe fruit can prevent constipation. Eating papayas by themselves for two or three days has a tonic effect on the stomach and intestines. The juice of the papaya can relieve infections of the colon and it breaks down pus and mucus. Papaya prevents nausea, and it’s great for morning and motion sickness.
Papaya Passion Smoothie
- 1 papaya (skin and seeds removed)
- 1 kiwi (peeled and frozen)
- 6 strawberries (frozen)
- 1 spear of pineapple or ¼ cup of pineapple (frozen)
- Ice and water
Mix up in a blender and enjoy!
History of the Papaya
Papayas are native to Central America. Spanish and Portuguese explorers transported the papaya to India, the Philippines and different parts of Africa. Christopher Columbus called the papaya “the fruit of angels.”
In the 20th century, papayas were cultivated primarily in Hawaii. Today, the largest commercial producers are the United States, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.
Selection and Storage of Papyas
A ripe papaya (ready to beaten within a day of purchase) will have a reddish-orange skin and will be slightly soft to the touch. Papayas with patches of yellow will need a few days to ripen. If you wish to hurry the ripening process, place the papaya in a paper bag with a banana.
Green papayas or those that are hard should only be used if you are cooking or adding them to a cold salad dish. The green papaya will never develop the wonderful and distinctive sweet flavor of ripe papayas.
Papaya ‘season’ is summer and fall, though they are typically available year round.
A ripe papaya should be stored in the refrigerator. Consume a ripe papaya within one or two days.
Do you have a papaya recipe you’d like to share? Tell us in a comment!