The Exotic Papaya and its Amazing Benefits
The exotic papaya is one of the tropical fruits with the most amazing health benefits and medicinal properties. It is native to Mexico’s tropical forests, Central America, and the northern region of South America. It was called the ‘fruit of the angels’ by Christopher Columbus.
During the 16th century, from Mexico, Spanish sailors extended its farming throughout the Caribbean and the rest of South America. They later took it to the Philippines, Malaysia, southern China, India, Ceylon, and Uganda. In the early 19th century, papayas arrived in Hawaii, the leading supplier to the United States today.
The fruits are spherical or pear-shaped. They can reach 20 inches in length. But the most common ones are usually 8 inches long and weigh a pound and a half.
The flesh is bright orange with certain shades of yellow or pink, and inside its interior cavity are multiple small, black, round seeds wrapped in a gelatinous substance.
Properties of the Papaya for Our Health
The papaya is a tropical fruit rich in sugars, fiber, minerals, vitamins B, C, and A. The latter in the form of carotenes.
Vitamin C and carotenes are two of the primary antioxidants. Therefore, they promote the elimination of dangerous free radicals generated by the body itself, as well as those from the environment.
Half a papaya covers almost twice the daily requirement of vitamin C and a fourth of provitamin A as beta-carotene. It also provides 38% of folic acid and nearly 20% of vitamin E.
It also has reasonable amounts of vitamins B1, B2, and Niacin or B3. It is rich in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, sulfur, silicon, sodium, and potassium.
This exotic and delicious fruit also contains papain, an enzyme with similar properties to two other enzymes in the body. One of them is part of the gastric juices and another one of the pancreatic juices.
This type of enzyme, known as proteolytic, helps break down proteins ingested with food and promotes digestion, preventing gastritis and gas formation. Due to its content in papain, it is highly digestive.
On the other hand, besides having medicinal uses, the papaya plant has been beneficial in the brewing, food, and cosmetic industry, thanks to the papain enzyme.
Interestingly, the food industry uses this enzyme of the papaya to treat the meats and make them more chewable.
Papaya is the ideal fruit for those who want to reduce their body weight because it is low in calories, 53 per 100 grams of fruit, and it is rich in nutrients.
Its nutritional components regulate the nervous system and the digestive system, fortify the heart muscle, protect the skin and hair, and are essential for healthy growth.
Papaya prevents constipation by acting as a mild laxative. Also, it speeds up external and internal healing, such as gastric ulcers.
Its seeds can help expel intestinal parasites such as ancylostomas, áscaris, trichuris, and strongyloides stercoralis, even some intestinal amoebas. They also strengthen the immune system thanks to their high content of Vitamin C.
Another use that can be given to this plant is healing; it can be applied topically in wounds, ulcers, or boils.
Besides, the consumption of the fruit of the papaya plant can help to avoid certain diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, and hyperthyroidism.
It can help produce more breast milk and relieve pain due to its analgesic properties. Because of its richness in potassium and its low sodium content, it avoids water retention.
The seeds can also be used crushed to dress salads. In this case, due to its slightly spicy taste, it reminds us of mustard.
When purchased, they should not have any marks on the skin. That may indicate excessive inner ripeness. If they are bought green, they must have started to ripen and must show some yellow tones.
The best to choose are those with three-quarters yellow and firm when pressed gently. Those that are entirely green should not be bought, as in many cases they do not ripen anymore.
Papaya should be left to ripen outside the refrigerator, which will take place in about four to five days.
If they are kept in the refrigerator once they are ripe, it is better to eat them in no more than a couple of days when they still preserve their aroma and sweetness.
Amazing Papaya Recipes
1 pound of papaya
2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
Juice from an orange
Juice of a lemon
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1-inch piece of ginger
1 teaspoon of chopped cilantro
1 1/2 cups of skimmed milk
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
- Chop the onion into small pieces and the papaya into cubes.
- In a saucepan over low heat, fry the onion with olive oil until it starts to look transparent.
- Add the papaya pieces, the orange and lemon juices, and the chopped ginger.
- Mix and cook on the same fire, occasionally stirring, for about 10 minutes.
- When it is ready, we put it through the mixer.
- Return it to the pot and add the 3 tablespoons of whole wheat flour and milk, continually stirring until the mixture is well blended.
- It should be like a puree, but we can make it more or less thick by playing with the amount of milk.
- Add the cilantro, a pinch of salt, nutmeg, and black pepper to taste.
- Continue stirring for about 5 minutes over low heat while it finishes cooking altogether.
- Decorate with freshly chopped cilantro on top of the cream.
A different cream soup that will add new flavors to your recipe book.
2 pounds of papaya
3/4 pound of sugar
- Peel and clean the papaya and cut the fruit into small pieces.
- Put the sugar and the fruit in a pot, cook them over low heat and stir them regularly for a few minutes.
- Once the fruit softens with cooking, squeeze the juice from 3 lemons and stir until everything is integrated.
- Continue cooking with low heat, and use a fork to crush the papaya into a jam, stirring for a few minutes to see how it thickens and takes the form of smooth cream.
- When the jam is at the point you like, turn off the heat and let it temper.
- Use airtight glass containers to keep it refrigerated.
A delicious option to complement your desserts.
Papaya, Feta Cheese and Heart Palm Salad
6 medium-size leaves of lettuce
8 ounces of papaya
14 ounces hearts of palm
6 ounces of feta cheese
12 roasted peanut seeds
1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
- Spread out the lettuce leaves on a plate.
- Dice the feta cheese.
- Peel the papaya, cut it into strips and then into cubes smaller than one bite.
- Cut the hearts of palm into slices.
- Spread the papaya, feta cheese, and palm heart slices over the lettuce leaves evenly.
- Chop up the roasted peanuts a little and spread them on top.
- Finish by dressing the salad with a spoonful of virgin olive oil and salt to taste.
Three amazing products in an unbeatable mix!