Vol. XXV, 3rd Quarter
|July to September 2007|
Papaya offers many health benefits.
Papaya is a tropical tree that abounds all year round. It grows up to 26-32 feet tall with erect, branchless trunk and starts to bear fruit after 11 months.
Unripe papaya fruit is commonly called green papaya. The white milky juice that comes out from the unripe fruit when injured is a good digestive aid that stimulates secretion of gastric juice. It is used in cases of stomach discomfort like dyspepsia.
Green papaya is generally used as vegetable ingredient in tinola, atchara, ukoy, and the famous Vigan empanada.
When ripe, papaya turns deep orange with a yellow juicy fleshed fruit. It often contains black seeds. The papaya pulp is basically sweet in taste, fiberless, and refreshing. Ripe papaya is a popular breakfast fruit in the Philippines. It is also used in salads, pies, sherbets, juices, jam, jelly, and confectionery.
Papaya is a rich source of antioxidants such as folic acid, fiber, carotenes, and vitamins C and E. Antioxidants enhance the cardiovascular system and provide protection against colon cancer.
It contains the digestive enzyme called papain, which is widely used in tenderizing meat and other proteins. Cooking meat with raw papaya makes it tender and digestible. Papain is also used as a digestive aid and is assumed to have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Papaya helps in the prevention of atherosclerosis, diabetes, and heart disease. Folic acid found in papaya is needed for the conversion of a substance called homocysteine, an amino acid. If unconverted, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls. If levels get too high, it is considered a significant risk factor to heart attack and strokes.
It is also a good source of fiber that lowers cholesterol levels and helps in easing the discomforts of constipation. The fiber is able to bind to cancer toxins in the colon and keep them away from healthy colon cells.
In addition, vitamins C and E found in papaya are all associated with reduced risk of colon cancer. The pigment in the fruit called carotene is similar to that in carrots and squash. Carotene in food is converted into vitamin A that promotes good eyesight. Papaya is also an ideal food for those with difficulty in chewing and those smoking.
The comparatively low calorie content of papaya makes it ideal fruit for obese people who are into weight-reducing regimen. One small slice of ripe papaya or three-fourths (¾) cup contains 40 kilocalories.
This low-calorie, nutritious, and affordable all-season fruit must be included in regular diet to ensure healthy body.