In Season – Papaya
The delicious papaya not only brings a sweet taste of the tropics to your table, but it also delivers a powerful nutritional punch. Papaya’s peak season is early summer, so right now is an ideal time to start enjoying this nutritious fruit. Originating in Central America and grown in Mexico and Puerto Rico, its popularity has made it easily accessible throughout the United States, with Hawaii being the largest major U.S. producer. Papayas are nutrient rich in vitamin C (one serving will give you close to a three-day supply), folate, potassium, fiber, and vitamins A, E and K, along with antioxidant flavonoids.
What is the nutrition in Papaya?
One medium papaya contains 119 calories, 29.8 g of total carbohydrates and 5.5 g of dietary fiber. They are high in sugar, about 17.9 g, and contain minimal amounts of protein and omega-3, and omega-6 fat.
What are the health benefits of Papaya?
- Promotes Good Digestion – Perhaps the most well-known benefit of papaya is its digestive support. Papaya contains the enzyme papain, which helps digest proteins. Papain is often used to make digestive enzyme dietary supplements as well.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties – These unique protein-digesting enzymes have also been shown to help lower inflammation and to improve healing from burns. This effect is particularly beneficial for people with asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Immune System support -Because papaya is so rich in vitamins A and C, it is an excellent fruit to eat to keep your immune system functioning properly. Because of the high amounts of these important vitamins, if eaten regularly it can help prevent recurrent ear infections, colds, or flu.
- Protect Your Eyes and Lungs – Eating fruit like papaya containing carotenoids has been found to protect against macular degeneration, the most common cause of vision loss among the elderly, along with promoting lung health (particularly if you’re exposed to a lot of secondhand smoke).
- Helps fight Prostate Cancer – Papaya is rich in lycopene, which is known to prevent damage to DNA and fight prostate cancer. In a controlled study, men who most frequently enjoyed foods high in lycopene were 82% less likely to have prostate cancer, compared to those consuming the least lycopene-rich foods. That’s a big wow.
- Helps in preventing colon cancer – The nutrients in papaya have also been shown to be helpful in the prevention of colon cancer. Papaya’s fiber is able to bind to cancer-causing toxins in the colon and keep them away from the healthy colon cells.
Papaya is so rich in nutrients that its benefits do not end here. Papayas are very good for your skin, hair and nails. When applied directly to you skin, it will relieve mosquito bites, can be used as an external treatment for wounds, and is known to fade age spots. Ladies, see below for details!
How to Choose, and Eat, Papayas
If you’re not yet familiar with this tropical fruit, look for a papaya that is soft with bright orange skin. You can choose a fruit with yellow skin, but be aware that it will take a few days to become fully ripe. To ripen quickly, put the papaya in a brown paper bag with a banana. For the best flavor, eat the papaya as soon as it’s ripe. The papaya seeds are also edible. They have a peppery flavor and are excellent sprinkled on salads, or blended into salad dressings. They have been dried and used as a pepper substitute in Southeastern Asian cultures for thousands of years.
Unique ways to use Papaya:
Roast it – Preheat oven to 450. Mix 2 T light brown sugar and ¼ tsp ground ginger. Halve papaya, arrange cut side up in baking dish, and sprinkle with sugar mixture. The liquid will collect below. Baste 2-3 times while roasting, about 35-40 minutes. Sprinkle with cayenne and serve with lime slices.
Dry it – If you have a food dehydrator, dried papaya slices or chunks keep well, and give you the sweet taste of the ripe fruit without the odor that some people find unpleasant. Try drying it with pineapple chunks.
Use as a marinade – Let your papaya ripen to the point of softness, toss the orange flesh in a blender and the resulting goo will be the marinade that will turn the toughest cut of beef tender.
Make a salsa – This is a great accompaniment to grilled fish or chicken. Chop papaya, red, green, and jalapeno peppers. Add chopped cilantro, onions, orange and lime juice to taste.
Stuff it – Cut in half and fill with cottage cheese, yogurt, tuna or crab salad.
For the ladies: You probably already know that papaya is used in many skin care products available today. The enzyme papain has been used for decades to effectively lighten the skin. Since papaya also contains good amounts of Vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene, this is one powerful fruit when it comes to anti-ageing products.
Check out this link from ehow, and learn how to make some invigorating masks at home. What you don’t use, freeze in chunks for a thick and delicious smoothie.
TIP: Rubbing the whitepulp of raw papaya on the face effectively removes pimples. It also reduce fine lines and wrinkles. ~ ENJOY~