PAWPAW Power (2) – Papaya Health Benefits
On a recent trip to my hometown of Cebu, I helped out in harvesting papayas at the KPAF. This first papaya harvesting experience made me ask myself ‘how much do I really know about this fruit? this tree?’ So this week we look into the world of papayas in a special feature called PAWPAW Power. Pawpaw is another name for Papaya. Today, I bring you- ‘Papaya Health Benefits’.
Papaya Health Benefits
Papaya (or Pawpaw in Australia & most of the Caribbean) is plentiful all year round in most countries. The parts that are used medicinally are the fruit, seeds, stems and leaves. You can also buy paw paw in different forms such as fermented papaya, herbal teas even tablets and of course plenty of the fresh fruit, which can be eaten as it is or in a form of juice. So you ask what are these awesome healing properties of paw paw? Well where do we start? Papaya fruit is an excellent source of dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, C and E. It also contains small amounts of calcium, iron, riboflavin, thiamine and niacine. It is also very rich in antioxidant nutrients, flavonoids and carotenes, very high in vitamin C plus A, and low in calories and sodium.
PawPaw/Papaya tree. Paw paw is rich in enzymes called papain and chymopapain which help with digestion, particularly they break down the proteins from the food into amino acids. The latest research shows that amino acids are responsible for all that is happening in our body, basically every chemical reaction as well as our mental and physical health. As we age we produce less digestive enzymes in our stomach and pancreas, which leads to ineffective digestion of proteins. Due to this we end up with an excess amount of undigested protein, which leads to overgrowth of bad bacteria in our gastrointestinal system and not enough amino acids to perform all-important chemical reactions. We can say that good quality protein is absolutely essential for our healthy being. This is where the papaya enzymes can be very beneficial.
Papaya Painting by Eduardo Camoes
Hyper-realistic acrylic painting
The papain enzymes are produced in the skinny peel of paw paw. The combination of these enzymes repels insects during the ripening, without this protection paw paw fruit would not survive. Eating paw paw after a meal makes for better digestion, prevents bloating and chronic indigestion. It can also lower inflammation in the body, alleviate pain and edema caused by sport injuries. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties papaya can relieve the severe pain of Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Because of its high antioxidant content, papaya can prevent cholesterol oxidation and can be used in preventative treatments for atherosclerosis, strokes, heart attacks and diabetic heart disease.
Papaya miniature painting by JP Walter
For everyday health, papaya works magic on strengthening the immune system and preventing the recurrent colds and flu. After treatment with antibiotics eating paw paw or drinking its juice replenishes the good intestinal bacteria, which was destroyed by antibiotic treatment. The latest good news from eating paw paw comes down once again to papain the enzyme which has been found to destroy intestinal parasites. Papain is proteolitic enzyme, which means that it digests inert (non-living) proteins. Intestinal parasites are largely protein; the papain attacks it and causes parasites to die. Also, home application of leaf and bark papaya extract is used to treat mouth, gum and tooth aches. This is effectively practised in many cultures around the world.