Pawpaw (Carica Papaya) and its Health Benefits
Written by Ossy on July 13, 2022
The Carica papaya ( pawpaw) a small, sparsely branched tree, usually with a single stem growing from 5 to 10 metres (16 to 33 feet) tall. The plant Carica papaya, one of the 22 accepted species in the genus Carica of the family Caricaceae.
It was first domesticated in Mesoamerica, within modern-day southern Mexico and CentralAmerica. The fruit is a large berry about 15–45 cm (6–17+3⁄4 in) long and 10–30 cm (4–11+3⁄4 in) in diameter. It is ripe when it feels soft (as soft as a ripe avocado or softer), its skin has attained an amber to orange hue and along the walls of the large central cavity are attached numerous black seeds.
In this write up I will be explaining the nutritional and health benefits of pawpaw (Carica Papaya)
Including pawpaws in your diet could provide a number of health benefits. However, there’s a lack of research investigating the effects of pawpaw consumption on human health.
Like many fruits, pawpaws are rich in nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Pawpaws are especially high in vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, and iron.
Maintaining optimal vitamin C levels in the body is essential for immune function, protection against illness and infection, skin health, and more.
In fact, white blood cells called neutrophils contain very high levels of vitamin C — about 10–100 times higher than the average vitamin C levels found in plasma, or the liquid part of blood
Neutrophils are considered the first line of defense of the innate immune system, destroying pathogens that would otherwise cause infection.
Pawpaws are also high in magnesium, a mineral that most people don’t consume enough of . Having suboptimal magnesium levels may increase your risk of developing certain health conditions, including high blood pressure, stroke, and artery calcification.
In traditional medicine, papaya leaves have been used as a treatment for malaria, an abortifacient, a purgative or smoked to relieve asthma. This makes pawpaw leaves a target herb in the field of medicine because it can be used to induce abortion and also serve to prevent constipation in humans.
Pawpaws are a good source of nonheme iron as well.
It’s important to get a mix of both nonheme and heme iron in your diet to maintain optimal levels. This is because the nonheme found in plant foods isn’t as bioavailable (easily absorbed and used) as the heme iron found in animal foods or the iron found in supplements .
Both green papaya fruit and its latex are rich in papain, a protease used for tenderizing meat and other proteins, as practiced currently by indigenous Americans, people of the Caribbean region, and the Philippines. It is now included as a component in some powdered meat tenderizers. Papaya is not suitable for gelatin-based desserts because the enzymatic properties of papain prevent gelatin from setting.
Raw papaya pulp contains 88% water, 11% carbohydrates, and negligible fat and protein (table). In a 100-g amount, papaya fruit provides 43 kilocalories and is a significant source of vitamin C (75% of the Daily Value, DV) and a moderate source of folate (10% DV), but otherwise has low content of nutrients.
According to Kentucky State University’s Pawpaw Research Project, 100 grams of ripe pawpaw fruit with skin provides
- Calories: 80
- Protein: 1.2 grams
- Fat: 1.2 grams
- Carbohydrates: 18.8 grams
- Fiber: 2.6 grams
- Vitamin C: 20% of the recommended Daily Value (DV)
- Riboflavin: 7% of the DV
- Potassium: 7% of the DV
- Magnesium: 27% of the DV
- Manganese: 113% of the DV
- Iron: 39% of the DV
Additionally, pawpaws are an excellent source of magnesium and nonheme iron, and they’re exceptionally high in manganese, a mineral that’s needed for nutrient metabolism, immune function, reproduction, skeletal health, and more.
The papaya fruit contains two enzymes, papain and chymopapain. Both enzymes digest proteins, meaning they can help with digestion and reduce inflammation. Papain is an ingredient in some over-the-counter digestive supplements to help with minor upset stomach.
Eating foods high in vitamin C can help to boost the immune system, allowing the body to fight off bacterial and viral illnesses. Papaya has a good amount of this antioxidant, making it part of an immune-healthy diet.
Papaya is also a good source of Vitamin A, another important vitamin for a healthy and functional immune system.
Potentially Protects Against Prostate Cancer
Lycopene is a natural pigment found in foods that are red or orange. Tomatoes, watermelon, and papaya are good sources of lycopene. Some experts believe that eating more lycopene reduces the risk of prostate cancer, but some studies have been inconclusive.
However, in other studies, eating a diet high in lycopene along with green tea reduced the risk of prostate cancer significantly.