Nutritional Benefits Of The Exotic Papaya Fruit
This exotic fruit, also popular as pawpaw, is one of the favourites of fruit lovers for its nutritional, digestive, and medicinal properties. Botanically, the plant belongs to Caricaceae family of flowering plants, in the genus; Carica.
They come in variety of sizes ranging from 6-20 inches in length and 4-12 inches in diameter. An average-sized papaya weighs about a pound. The fruit is said to ripen when it yields to gentle thumb pressure, and its skin turned amber to orange hue.
The papaya fruit is very low in calories (just 39 calories/100 g) and contains no cholesterol; however, it is a rich source of phyto-nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
Papayas contain soft, easily digestible flesh with a good amount of soluble dietary fiber that helps to have normal bowel movements; thereby reducing constipation problems. Fresh, ripe papaya is one of the fruits with the highest vitamin-C content (provides 61.8 mg or about 103 per cent of DRI, more than that of in oranges, or lemons). Research studies have shown that vitamin C has many important functions such as, free radicals scavenging, immune booster and anti-inflammatory actions.
It is also an excellent source of Vitamin-A (provides 1094 IU/100 g) and flavonoids like ß-carotene, lutein, zea-xanthin and cryptoxanthin. Vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is essential for healthy vision.
These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties; help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Consumption of natural fruits rich in carotenes is known to protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Papaya fruit is also rich in many essential B-complex vitamins such as Folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish and play a vital role in metabolism.
Fresh papaya also contains a good amount of potassium (257 mg per 100 g) and calcium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids and helps in controlling heart rate and blood pressure countering effects of sodium.
Papaya seeds have been proven natural remedy for many ailments in the traditional medicines. The seeds can be found application as anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, and analgesic, and used to treat stomachache, and ringworm infections.
Preparation and Serving Method
Wash papaya fruit thoroughly in cold running water to remove dirt and any pesticide residues. Skin is bitter in taste and inedible. Remove skin with “peeling knife,” cut the fruit longitudinally into two equal halves. Gently remove seeds and thin slimy layer loosely adhering to the flesh. Cut the fruit longitudinally into wedges or small cubes.
Papayas contain white milk like sap (latex) substance, which can cause irritation to skin and provoke allergic reaction in some sensitized persons.