Papaya: An Essential Healthy Lifestyle Companion
Papaya, papaw, or tree melon is the fruit of the tree Carica papaya native to Southern Mexico and neighboring Central America where it's referred it to as 'The Tree of Good Health'.
Part of the Caricaceae plant family, Papaya is now cultivated in most tropical countries, Hawaii and South Africa. Nowadays, it is commonly found in markets all over the world, all year round.
Known as the 'Melon of Health', the Papaya fruit looks like a pear-shaped melon with a green skin than turns orange when ripe. The flesh is soft with a rich orange, sometimes rosy color. The black seeds in the center, even though edible, are better discarded (or re-planted!).
Papaya's benefits are numerous but above all, it is known for its digestive properties and its protein-dissolving action.
Legend has it that when Columbus and his sailors arrived in the Caribbean they were offered a feast and served so much food that they experienced digestive problems. According to the story, the natives fed them papaya, which cured their indigestion.
Papaya contains papain, an enzyme that helps breakdown proteins, fats and carbohydrates, at the same time stimulating the stomach to increase secretions.
According to the University of Michigan Health System website, 'digestive enzymes are complex proteins involved in digestion that stimulate chemical changes in other substances'.
Papain and bromelain (found in papaya and pineapple respectively) are the most effective digestive enzymes, also available in supplement form.
Other than being extremely effective in dissolving fats, papain also greatly helps in treating flatulence, gastro-intestinal discomfort and intestinal parasites.
It is said to be have antiseptic properties that prevents growth of harmful germs in the intestine.
When eaten at breakfast, fiber-rich papaya improves intestinal transit and alleviates mild constipation. Favored by tropical people, it is served sliced and eaten alone or mixed with other fruits. Green papaya is delicious in salads, and makes scrumptious curry.
Other than being rich in fiber and low in calories and fat, one medium sized fresh papaya contains 3 times the daily-recommended dose of vitamin C, two thirds of vitamin A requirement, and over a third of the daily potassium requirement.
Other Benefits of papaya include:
Anti-inflammatory: the two main enzymes found in Papaya, namely papain and chymopapain, have been shown to help lower inflammation and encourage healing from burns. Studies have shown that Papaya's anti-inflammatory properties can relieve the severity of asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis
Anti-oxidant, anti-aging: a 1993 study on "The Antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of unripe papaya", confirms "papaya's ability to counteract the oxidative stress". Oxidative stress is the result of various factors like, pollution, smoking, alcohol, etc.
Furthermore, anti-oxidants, such as those found in papaya, neutralize free radical damage and are known for their anti-aging virtues, such as in the nutritional supplement called FPP (Fermented Papaya Preparation)
Heart disease: Cardiac tissue is a well-recognized target of oxidative stress. Papaya is rich with three powerful anti-oxidants - vitamin A, C & E- that can prevent oxidative modification of cardiac tissue.
These agents contribute to your heart's health by preventing cholesterol from oxidizing. Oxidized Cholesterol can form plaque in the blood vessels walls, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Along with the amazing properties listed above, Papaya also contributes to a healthy immune system, increasing the body's resistance to colds & infections because of its rich nutrients content.
Pregnant women, people on anticoagulant drugs and those allergic to digestive enzymes should consult their doctor before taking any Papain extract.
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