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The papaya tree, commonly known as papaya, comes from South America, Central America and the southern regions of North America. Currently, it is also grown in countries in southern Europe. Papaya is appreciated not only for its taste, but also for medicinal properties. It owes them primarily to carotenoids, which can prevent the development of cancer, and to papain - an enzyme that, inter alia, improves digestion.

Papayais a fruit whose taste andnutritional propertieswere first appreciated by the Spaniards. It was thanks to them that the fruit spread from Mexico (where it probably comes from) to South America. In these parts of the world, the healing effect of papaya is still used in natural medicine, incl. to treat stomach ulcers, urinary tract infections, as well as boils and warts. The medicinal properties of papaya are also confirmed by numerous studies, which show that this fruit can prevent many diseases, including cancer.

Papaya - nutritional values ​​(in 100 g)

Energy value43 kcal
Total protein0.47 g
Fat0.26 g
Carbohydrates10.82 g (including simple sugars 7.82 g)
fiber1.7 g
Vitamin C60.9 mg
Tiamina0.023 mg
Riboflavin0.027 mg
Niacin0.357 mg
Vitamin B60.038 mg
Folic acid37 µg
Vitamin A950 IU
Vitamin K2.6 µg
Vitamin E0.30 mg
Calcium20 mg
Iron0.25 mg
Magnesium21 mg
Phosphorus10 mg
Potassium182 mg
Sodium8 mg
Zinc0.08 mg
Fatty acids
saturated0.081 g
monounsaturated0.072 g
polyunsaturated0.058 g

Data Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

Papaya - healing properties

Papaya against cancer

Papaya is a rich source of lycopene - the red pigment of fruits and vegetables from the carotenoid family - natural antioxidants. 100 g of papaya contains 2.0-5.3 mg of lycopene .¹ Lycopene removes free radicals, the excess of which in the body leads to the so-called oxidative stress, and further to the development of many diseases, including cancer.

It has been shown that high consumption of lycopene may reduce the risk of developing diseases such as for prostate cancer. In turn, scientists from the US and Japan have shown that papaya - not the fruit, but the leaf extract - inhibits the growth of cells from cervical cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and pancreatic cancer .² Scientists do not yet agree on the substance contained in papaya, which exhibits anti-cancer properties, however, there are reasonable assumptions that it ispapain enzyme .

Papaya can protect against cardiovascular disease

The aforementioned lycopene may not only protect against cancer, but also cardiovascular diseases. Lycopene may reduce the risk of, inter alia, stroke and infarction. In addition, it inhibits the synthesis of cholesterol and helps in removing its "bad" fraction - LDL - from the blood.

Papaya to improve digestion

Scientists are not 100% sure about the role of papain in preventing cancer, but they have no doubts that this enzyme improves digestion.

The action of papain is very similar to the pepsin produced by the body (a component of gastric juice), but papain works in any environment, not only acidic (like pepsin). Papain helps to fight problems, especially with the digestion of food containing high amounts of protein.

Thanks to the fact that it also works in a neutral and alkaline environment, it does not increase the acidity of the digestive system, which makes it easier to alleviate digestive system ailments.

Papaya for weight loss

Papaya owes its slimming effect to papain, which improves the digestive process, accelerates the burning of proteins and adipose tissue. It also helps to cleanse the body of toxins. In addition, it prevents bloating and constipation.

Papaya glycemic index=59.

Papaya can prevent macular degeneration (AMD)

According to American scientists, whose research results have been published in the journal "Archives of Ophthalmology", consuming at least three portions of papayadaily reduces the risk of macular degeneration in the elderly - a disease that is the leading cause of blindness. All thanks to the content of carotenoids such as lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin.

Papaya accelerates wound healing

Papaya gel - obtained from various parts of the plant (fruit, leaves and stems) - accelerates the healing process of wounds, argues Russian researchers from the Moscow State Medical Academy.

Papaya can cause allergies. People in whom papaya causes allergic symptoms should also be careful with latex - cross-allergies between the two allergens have been observed.

How? Bacteria and other germs in the wound produce an enzyme that protects them from attack by the cells of the immune system. The ingredients contained in the papaya gel break down this enzyme, and thus allow you to quickly cleanse the wound of pathogens and reduce inflammation.

In addition, papaya compounds do not allow immune cells to produce too much oxygen and nitrogen, which further damage the wound, aggravating inflammatory processes and causing cell damage. Africans have long used this plant in folk medicine not only to speed up wound healing, but also to treat boils and warts.

Papaya can prevent knee degeneration

Papaya, along with other antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, should be included in the diet to prevent knee degeneration, say Australian scientists in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy. Their research shows that the presence of certain carotenoids in the diet, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, lowered the risk of pathological changes in the cartilage tissue of the knees.

Green vegetables and some fruits, such as papaya, mangoes and oranges, are a rich source of these two compounds.

Another substance that, according to scientists, reduces the risk of pathological changes in bones is vitamin C. There is also plenty of this in papaya. Half of a small fruit covers 150 percent. daily requirement for this vitamin.

Papaya - how to peel and eat?

Wash papaya under running water. Then cut it in half and use a spoon to remove the seeds. Then peel the fruit. The resulting papaya flesh can be cut and eaten raw (e.g. sprinkled with lemon juice) or processed.

Papaya seeds - are they edible?

Black, round papaya seeds are edible, although they have a rather pungent flavor. However, they should not be used by pregnant women as they are suspected of causing damagefetus. In turn, the flesh does not pose any threat to pregnant women. What's more - due to the content of numerous vitamins and minerals - it is highly recommended in the diet of future mothers.

Papaya - use in the kitchen

Papaya has a sweet, spicy flavor that goes well with some dairy products. After mixing with milk or yoghurt, you can get a nutritious cocktail. Mixed papaya can be the basis of ice cream desserts. In turn, papaya slices go perfectly with any fruit salad.

You can also prepare a spicy salsa sauce with papaya. Due to the high pectin content, you can also prepare jams, compotes, syrups and juices.

It's good to know that papain, a digestive enzyme found in papaya, is often used to soften meats.

Tough meat is enough to soak overnight in papaya juice to soften it. In turn,papaya seedstaste reminiscent of peppercorns. They can be dried, ground and used to flavor salads and other dishes.

Papaya - how to buy? How to choose in the store?

Choose a papaya that is completely or nearly completely yellow. Avoid green fruits. The hard and green fruit of the papaya tree are unripe and will never mature properly.

The peel of the papaya should bend slightly under pressure, but it should not be soft where the stem grew.

Do not buy papaya fruit that is bruised, wrinkled and covered with soft spots.

Fruits that are not fully ripe should be stored at room temperature until they are completely golden in color.

For the papaya to mature faster, you can store it in a gray paper bag at room temperature and then refrigerate it for a maximum of 5 days.

Papaya - use in cosmetics

The papain enzyme contained in papaya is also used in cosmetics. It is used to perform enzyme peeling. It can also be found in anti-cellulite creams, creams for scars or preparations facilitating the absorption of hematomas.

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