We all know fruits and vegetables are healthy, but we bet you didn't know that some can play a crucial role in your overall health and well being. Papaya, also known as pawpaw, is one such fruit and even though you're used to trashing those seeds, we hope you'll start crunching away on their edible goodness.
What is papaya exactly? Papaya is a tropical, yellow-orange fruit, which is part of the Caricaceae family. The papaya is thought to be native to Mexico and South America, making its way to Europe and the Pacific Islands and finally Hawaii in the 1800s. Once an exotic and rare fruit, it is now available most times of the year.
When eaten as part of a balanced diet, papaya are low in calories and full of essential nutrients to support your health. Along with only 68 calories per papaya, you get:
♦ 2.7g dietary fiber (10% DV)
♦ 31mg calcium (3.1% DV)
♦ 95.6mg vitamin C (106.2% DV)
♦ 1,492 IU (international units) vitamin A (30% DV)
♦ 4.1mcg vitamin K (5.1% DV)
♦ 0.47mg vitamin E (2.54% DV)
Additionally, every papaya offers a handful of essential minerals including magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
One of the great things about papaya seeds is that you really only need to eat a small portion of them in order to receive their many health benefits.
1. Antioxidant Effects
Many types of fruits and vegetables have a detoxifying effect on your body. The antioxidants in papaya fruit and seeds and their high fiber content also help, but the papaya fruit itself has a lot of unique qualities that promote the detox process.
People who consume papaya seeds are less likely to get renal failure later in life. Papaya seeds also can be used to promote kidney health allowing the kidneys to naturally help your body to rid itself of toxins.
The liver is also incredibly important when it comes to your body's natural ability to rid itself of toxins, and eating papaya seeds can promote liver health as well.
Even people who have severe cirrhosis of the liver will be more likely to recover if they consume papaya seeds. However, the consumption of papaya seeds can also make a huge difference when it comes to preventing liver diseases as well.
2. Helps Fight Inflammation
Inflammation causes a wide range of different health problems and consequences, including redness, joint problems, pain, arthritis, and swelling.
Many long-term chronic illnesses are also linked to inflammation. Papaya seeds can help to get rid of many problems caused by inflammation while preventing a wide range of problems associated with chronic inflammation.
Combining papaya seeds with an additionally powerful anti-inflammatory supplement like curcumin can act as a catalyst to heighten the potency of papaya seeds. Just be sure to do your research because not all curcumin is effectively absorbed into the system.
3. Improved Digestion
Papaya seeds are rich in the enzyme papain with is proven to boost digestive capabilities making it easier to digest proteins. As a digestive aid, papaya seeds can help reduce symptoms of irritable bowels syndrome as well as relieve bloating and constipation. Studies have also found that papaya seeds, along with other parts of the plant can be used to treat ulcers.
4. Age-Defying Skin
As the body ages, it becomes less capable of skin renewal and repair. Achieve a more youthful glow by adding papaya seeds to your diet, as many of the nutrients contained within promote rejuvenation. Papain, an active enzyme in papaya seeds is currently being studied for topical applications on burns, irritations, and wounds and has been used in traditional Hawaiian and Tahitian skin treatments for centuries.
5. Anti-Cancer Benefits
Many of the antioxidants found in papaya seeds can make all the difference when it comes to warding off various types of cancer. Eating papaya seeds is particularly beneficial when it comes to preventing the development of leukemia, breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer.
Papaya seeds contain the phytochemical isothiocyanate and numerous other compounds that have been shown in studies to actively slow the growth of tumor cells.
6. Cardiovascular Health Benefits
When consumed on a regular basis, papaya seeds have been shown to lower blood pressure, and in some cases prevent high blood pressure altogether. This benefit is all thanks to the existence of carpaine, an alkaloid component of the papaya fruit which has been studied for its positive cardiovascular effects.
In addition to supporting healthy blood pressure, papaya contains lycopene and vitamin C, both of which can hep prevent heart disease by enhancing the effects of HDL (good) cholesterol. The fiber content provides additional support for cholesterol maintenance, helping to lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Additionally, the potassium in papaya seeds also prevent heart disease by supporting a healthy heart rhythm.
7. Fighting Infectious Diseases
In Costa Rica and Nigeria, papaya seeds have been popular remedies for various infectious diseases thanks to the anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of these seeds.
And although many plants contain natural defenses against parasites and bacteria the papaya fruit leads the pack in fighting a whole host of unwanted infectious diseases, from salmonella poisoning to typhoid fever, and staph infections.
When buying papaya, the freshest fruit will be reddish orange, soft to the touch, and will have no blemishes. Because most papaya comes from Hawaii or Mexico, chances are pretty good that you'll have a good selection all year round.
Papaya seeds are safe to eat and are as versatile as they are delicious. You can add the seeds to a smoothie, yogurt, or salad or eat them right along with the fruit. Papaya seeds have a crunchy texture and a slightly peppery flavor, making them perfect for seasoning for many dishes.
After removing the seeds, rinse them in water, remove any residue and allow them to air dry. You can crush or grind the seeds before adding them to food. If you do need to store papaya, you can freeze it for up to 10 months. Papaya seeds can be stored in a container in the refrigerator and should be eaten within the week.
There are little risks to eating papaya but one thing to keep in mind is that unripe papayas contain a high amount of latex. This will decrease as the fruit ripens, which is why it is important to pay attention to the fruit when you buy it. Those with latex allergies and pregnant women need to avoid papaya, even when ripe.
There has also been some evidence that links papaya seeds to reduced sperm motility. In animal studies, large doses of papaya seed extract were shown to reduce both sperm count and motility. While the effects were reversed once treatment stopped, it is advised that men should avoid eating papaya if they are looking to start a family.
Papaya seeds should never end up in the trash. They're surprisingly delicious, and they have immense health benefits. Adding a turmeric supplement to your day adds additional anti-inflammatory benefits.
It's also important to note that excessive consumption of papaya may lead to many side effects, notably pregnancy-related issues.
Additionally, while papaya seeds do have strong anti-parasitic properties, they may be too powerful for young children’s gastrointestinal tracts, so a doctor should be consulted before giving them to infants.