The health benefits of papaya are many and include better digestion, regulated menstruation, stronger immunity, weight loss, improved skin, and better heart health. Pawpaw, also known as Carica Papaya, or papaw is believed to prevent cancer. It’s no wonder that this fruit is quite popular for its high nutritive and medicinal value!
What is Pawpaw?
Pawpaw is a cerise-orange colored juicy fruit, which is not only fragrant and delicious but also very healthy. It has been famous for hundreds of years and was once referred to as the “fruit of the angels” by explorer Christopher Columbus. Pawpaw is a natural source of vitamins and minerals essential for the normal functioning of the body. It is famous for its luscious taste and sunlit color of the tropics and can be eaten by itself, incorporated into a meal or consumed in a smoothie or milkshake.
Latex derived from the raw pawpaw fruit is used as a meat tenderizer. Pawpaw is also used in the manufacturing of several cosmetic, skin, and beauty products, as well as certain chewing gums. They are available for consumption throughout the year.
The whole fruit, including other parts of the tree, are beneficial to health in several ways. Pawpaw in its raw form contains enzymes, which are used in the preparation of dietary supplements and chewing gums.
Pawpaw Nutrition Facts
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, papaya is rich in antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, flavonoids, and vitamin C, as well as some B vitamins (folate and pantothenic acid). It is also a good source of fiber and minerals such as magnesium. Together, these nutrients help improve cardiovascular health and protect against colon cancer.
Health Benefits of Pawpaw
Let us look into the amazing benefits of pawpaw below:
Aids in Digestion
Pawpaws are commonly consumed for proper digestion. They possess anti-ulcerative properties. Also, the presence of papain, a digestive super-enzyme and improves digestion by breaking down proteins. This ensures a reduced conversion of protein into body fat. If the protein in our diet is not digested properly, it may cause arthritis, constipation, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other related health conditions.
Pawpaws are also good for people who are trying to lose weight naturally given the fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals that it contains. Having a bowl of pawpaw as a mid-evening or mid-morning snack is good for your health.
Papayas are effective for killing intestinal worms, thereby avoiding infections and complications associated with them.
A paste of fresh papaya roots can be rubbed onto the teeth and gums as a home remedy for toothache relief. The bark of the tree, primarily the inner bark, is also an excellent remedy for tooth problems.
Researchers have discovered that papayas are effective in the fight against breast, pancreatic, and other cancers. A papaya leaf extract obtained from dried leaves produced anti-carcinogenic effects against tumor cells that were grown in the laboratory. It was observed in a 2010 study that the effects were stronger when the cells were given larger doses of papaya leaf tea. The scientists exposed different types of cancer-affected cells to different papaya leaf extracts and found that the growth of tumors slowed down.
Another study suggests that the lycopene found in papaya is a strong antioxidant that helps to relieve the effects of cancer radiotherapy. According to research in the journal Mutation Research, the use of fermented pawpaw preparation may help reduce oxidative stress and cancer risk in type 2 diabetics.
The fruit has gained credibility and has been used in many medicines for its anticancer powers.
A whole pawpaw and a half ripe pawpaw with leaves on a table
Pawpaws can be great revitalizing agents, which is why they are used in many cosmetics and are even used in homemade face masks by many women.  The papain kills dead cells and purifies the skin. The beneficial properties and the healing enzymes present in pawpaw help treat sunburn and irritated skin. Lycopene present in pawpaws reduces wrinkle formation in post-menopausal women, according to a 2014 study.
A good facial massage using papaya is a fabulous remedy to remove dead cells. If you are a person who spends most of the time outdoors, then pawpaws can be a great help, as pawpaws fight free radicals that age your skin. The peels of pawpaws are also used to rub on the face and hands for healthy skin. Papayas are also used to treat skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis, and others.
Improves Heart Health
The seeds of pawpaws are good for keeping your heart healthy. Having three powerful antioxidant vitamins – namely vitamin A, C, and E, means pawpaws are helpful in preventing problems such as atherosclerosis and diabetic heart diseases. The presence of pro-carotenoid phytonutrients helps prevent oxidation of cholesterol in the body. When oxidation of cholesterol takes place, it sticks to the walls of the blood vessels and forming plaque that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin E and vitamin C contained in pawpaws help in preventing the cholesterol from sticking to the walls, thereby keeping your heart healthy. As a good source of fiber, pawpaws also help reduce the LDL cholesterol levels in the body. Include pawpaws in your daily diet as a snack to keep your heart young.
Reduces Acne & Burns
The latex obtained from pawpaws is used to treat the areas on the skin affected by acne. The fleshy side of the papaya skin can be used as a mask to cure acne. A diet which includes papayas will help cure the condition internally, making the skin clear. Got a burn? Use pawpaw. When the latex from the fruit is applied to a burnt area, it helps in reducing the marks caused due to the burn, making it effective in helping in treating sores, wounds, and ulcers.
The enzymes present in pawpaws, especially the papain and chymopapain, reduce the inflammation in different parts of the body, according to research published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
Helps Prevent Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disorder in which the ocular cells degenerate, resulting in blurred vision and can cause blindness. An antioxidant named beta-carotene gives pawpaw its orange color. Just as carrots help improve the eyesight due to the presence of beta-carotene, papayas are also known to be effective in reducing the effect of macular degeneration.
According to a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, consumption of 3 or more servings of this fruit on a daily basis may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
The presence of folate, vitamin C, and vitamin E in papayas may reduce motion sickness by producing a tonic effect in the stomach and in the intestines. Pawpaw juice and the ripened form of papaya also aid in digestion. The fiber obtained from the fruit helps to increase bowel movements, says a study by a group of researchers from Austria. Improved bowel movements help ease the passage of stool, thereby reducing the effects of constipation.
Papaya juice can be of great help for women with irregular menses. Consumption of green, unripe papayas can normalize the irregularity in one’s periodic cycle. Papayas are considered as a “hot food”, meaning that they produce heat in the body. This excessive production of heat in the body is thought to stimulate the estrogen hormone, inducing periods in the females. Hence, papayas can be beneficial in handling difficult menses.
Pawpaw have been known to be effective against rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In addition to the anti-inflammatory properties discussed above, one of the enzymes found in pawpaws, called chymopapain, has a significant effect on controlling rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Health benefits of papaya - infographic
Quick Tips to Enjoy Pawpaws:
Pieces of pawpaw, when soaked with a bit of lemon juice and honey, are an absolute treat for the taste buds.
Blend pawpaws, strawberries, and yogurt for a cold soup treat.
Add a slice of papaya to a fresh fruit salad and have it as a snack.
Have a bowl of fresh, ripe papaya along with your breakfast to add calories that you require for the day.