Quick Links | Eat Wise
Add papaya to Your Grocery List Now
Packed with inflammation-fighting enzymes and antioxidants — not to mention key vitamins and minerals — papaya fruit is a tropical treat for your taste buds and body.
Adding papaya to your diet will infuse your body head-to-toe with its rich nutrients and antioxidants. Here, the details of papaya’s health benefits, nutrition content, and how to best use this tropical fruit.
Papaya is one of the fruits that is consistently recommended by doctors and dieticians. There is a long list of all of the benefits of papaya, but one of the main reasons it is so widely recommended is for its daily value of vitamin C and as an excellent source of fiber. Papayas are also excellent sources of potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, folate, beta-carotene, and vitamins C, A, E, K, and B-6.
So how does this nutrient-rich fruit directly impact your health?
Supports Heart Health and Blood Pressure
Papayas are rich in antioxidants, such as lycopene (a type of plant nutrient), and vitamins A and C, which have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce the risk of heart diseases and certain cancers. They also have 11% of the Recommended Daily Intake for potassium, and potassium is associated with regulating blood pressure.
Reduces Risk of Cancer
The anti-inflammatory properties in papaya are known to help lower the risk of cancer. For example, a study suggests that fermented papaya can be used in tandem with traditional therapies (i.e. chemotherapy) to control and regulate inflammation and free-radical oxidative damage that’s known to trigger different types of cancer. Consuming beta-carotene, an antioxidant found in papayas, may also reduce the risk of developing cancer since it helps fight free radicals in the body.
Nutrition experts recommend papaya for digestive problems—and for multiple reasons. Papayas are rich in an enzyme called papain, which, when used topically, can work wonders healing wounds. But that’s not all this little plant-based powerhouse can do: The enzyme papain helps break down food in the stomach and aids in digestion.
The high water content in papaya and the papain enzyme (which breaks down proteins in the gastrointestinal tract) work to alleviate bloating and encourage regular bowel activity. Papayas are also a good source of fiber, which can help relieve constipation.
Regulates Blood Glucose and Diabetes
Fruits that are high sources of fiber provide a lasting feeling of fullness. Fiber intake is a key ingredient for weight loss and diabetics because it improves your body’s response to insulin and in addition increases fullness for an extended period of time. Studies show papaya has a hypoglycemic effect on the blood, which means the body senses and reacts to an increase of insulin and lowers the level of blood glucose and the body’s average level of blood sugar over several months. More controlled, lower blood sugar levels can help stave off health issues, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Foods that are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories may have the ability to lower the risk of age-related eye disease. And guess what? Papayas have both – particularly vitamin C and beta carotene which are particularly helpful for retaining good eye health. What’s more, papaya has 33% of the RDI for vitamin A which may help reduce the risk for age-related macular degeneration.
There isn’t that much research linking papayas specifically to eye health, but there are many studies that indicate the antioxidants and vitamins commonly found in papayas support long-term vision health.
Papain has also been shown to lower inflammation for conditions such as arthritis as the enzyme helps increase the body’s production of cytokines (small proteins for cell-signaling). Cytokines are particularly important because they help regulate immunity and inflammation in the body as well as work against the production and function of molecules that induce inflammation.
Promotes Healthy Skin
The vitamin C in papaya, 157 percent of the RDI, may help reduce signs of aging. Vitamin C is important for the synthesis of collagen in our body, which is responsible for skin elasticity. Vitamin C’s anti-aging effects are even more impressive when coupled with vitamin A. And guess what? Papaya is also packed with vitamin A – a collagen-boosting, skin-benefiting antioxidant. Papaya is actually rich in antioxidants (beyond just vitamin A) that can also brighten skin from within. That being said, you can also reap these skin superpowers by applying products with papaya enzymes.
Papaya also contains papain, which is used in many products as a natural exfoliant. In addition to promoting youthful skin, papaya can also rejuvenate your hair (when ingested and via products) by nourishing it with vitamin A, which helps protect and produce the oils that sustain your scalp. That means papaya, being loaded with vitamin A, might be able to help dandruff at bay.