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||Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM
(foodconsumer.org) - Talk of healthy foods and the first name almost always is papaya. The delicious fruit with a butter-like consistency is on top of the nutrition charts these days thanks to the innumerable benefits that it gives the consumers. Papaya helps digestion and is very beneficial to sufferers of diabetes because it is a rich source of antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids.
Where is it found?
Christopher Columbus apparently called it the "fruit of the angels" and once you dig in, you realize it is a fitting description for this amazing fruit. Also called the pawpaw, the fruit is abundantly found in the tropics, but new methods of cultivation have made it widely available in all parts of the world. The original home of the papaya is southern Mexico, Central America and northern South America.
Papayas were once considered as exotic fruits that could be had when you were on a holiday. But the immense popularity as well as the obvious benefits of the fruit has made it a much sought-after commodity in the world. The ripe fruit is spherical or pear-shaped and has a rich orange colored flesh. Butter-like in consistency and slightly musky in taste, these papayas are very sweet and delicious. The seeds of the fruit and pepper-like and black, but are edible although somewhat bitter in taste.
Nutrients found in Papaya
Papaya is a rich source of multiple nutrients like carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids. It is also an excellent source of the B vitamins, folate and pantothenic acid as well as the minerals, potassium and magnesium; and fiber.
Because of the presence of a unique enzyme called papain, papayas are the ultimate digestive fruits. Papain is also use to tenderize meat.
2) Heart Disease
It is a useful fruit that can prevent atherosclerosis (thickening of arteries) and diabetic heart disease. The reason for these protective properties is the presence of vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. All these three elements are known anti-oxidants.
They inhibit the oxidation of cholesterol, which is responsible for the build-up of fat in the blood vessels. If cholesterol is not oxidized, it is unable to stick to the walls of the arteries and build-up as plaque, which gradually cause heart attacks or strokes.
The presence of a high amount of fiber lowers cholesterol levels.
Papaya has been shown to be a colon cancer-preventing fruit. This protection is possible via the fiber binding to cancer-causing toxins in the colon and keeping them away from healthy cells. This way the cancer cells are unable to proliferate. The presence of folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E also decreases the risk for colon cancer.
Individuals at high risk for colon cancer are sure to benefit from eating papayas since its content protects colon cells from damage by free radicals.
4) Rheumatoid Arthritis
Vitamin C-rich foods, like papaya, protect against inflammatory polyarthritis, which is a type of arthritis that affects one or more joints.
There are numerous other health benefits like preventing macular degeneration in the eye, protecting the immune system and lung disease
How do I enjoy Papaya
Papayas are best eaten raw, either sliced or diced. A plateful or three to four slices at breakfast is an ideal way to begin you day. Another popular method is to blend it with milk and drink as a milkshake with or without sugar. Papayas are also an ideal accompaniment to any salad.
An average papaya contains 118.56 calories and is thus an ideal fruit for the weight-conscious as well. Other nutrients present are
Vitamin C 187.87 mg
Folate 115.52 mcg
Potassium 781.28 mg
Dietary fiber 5.47 g
Vitamin A 863.36 IU
Vitamin E 3.40 mg
FoodConsumer rates Papaya very highly and places it on top of the fruit charts health-wise as well as taste-wise.
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