Saturday, July 28, 2012

Health Benefits of Papaya

Papaya, a fruit
native to tropical America, is unrivaled by any other fruit except the
mango for its beta-carotene content. This is the plant form of vitamin
A. Beta-carotene is a special vitamin which gives papaya its orange
colour and has powerful antioxidant properties.

It helps in preventing damage by free radicals which might other wise
lead to some forms of cancer, heart disease, cataract and premature
ageing. Eating papaya can also help prevent blindness caused by a
deficiency in vitamin A. (This is the most common cause of blindness in
India.) However, if eaten in excess, it can cause the yellowing of palms
and skin known as carotenemia. Raw papaya contains no beta- carotene.
Half a medium-sized fruit will provide an adult's daily requirement of
vitamin C as well as supply small amounts of calcium and iron. Raw
papaya contains large amounts of vitamin C.

Health Benefits of Papaya
Health Benefits of Papaya

The fruit is also known to have laxative properties because of its
mucilageneous fibre. Contrary to popular belief, pregnant women need not
avoid papaya for the fear of miscarriages. Rather it is a unique,
wholesome and easily digestible fruit. What's more is that papaya is an
excellent choice for those suffering from digestive ailments, dyspeptic
patients and convalescing individuals. Being low on calories, high on
fibre and water content, as well as high on nutrition, it makes for
wholesome eating with high satiety for weight watchers.

Raw papaya is a rich source of papain which is plant pepsin (an enzyme
produced in animals to digest protein). Papain is capable of digesting
protein in acid, alkaline or neutral mediums while animal pepsin
requires an acidic medium. Because of this property, raw papaya is used
to tenderise meats and is widely used by the food industry as a
tenderiser. In some preliminary research, patients with coeliac disease,
who could not digest wheat protein (gluten), have had benefits when
treated with papain. However, many more clinical trials would be needed
to justify its use in coeliac disease.

Papain also exhibits pain relieving properties, and the US Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has approved its medical use in spinal injections
in order to ease the discomfort of slipped discs. Juice of green, raw
papaya is also used externally to improve complexion and treat skin
blemishes. Some studies also suggest anti-candida effects (fungal
infection) and anti-bacterial effects. These may aid the treatment of a
candida infection and in wound healing and ulcer treatment. A recent
study published in Journal of Medicinal Food found that papain has
anti-ulcer properties too. The papain extracts significantly reduced the
ulcer index in the experimental model.

Scientists have found that the black seeds of papaya contain, in traces,
a toxic substance called carpine. Carpine in large quantities is said
to lower the pulse rate and depress the nervous system. The substance is
found only in papaya seeds and that too in very small quantities.
Fortunately though, the fleshy part of the fruit is completely free from
this toxic substance.

Some varieties remain green when ripe, but most turn deep yellow or
orange. When buying, choose uniformly yellow fruit with a delicate
scent. Papaya is excellent when fresh, in fruit salads, smoothies or
served with ice cream. Papaya is also enjoyable when finely chopped and
served with chopped fresh chilies in a salsa dip.

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