We are all urged to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and in as many different colors as possible. With its yellow skin and delicious orange fruit, the papaya is an easy fruit to choose and eat.
The health benefits of the papaya
It is good to know that yellow and orange fruits and vegetables contain varying amounts of antioxidants such as vitamin C as well as carotenoids and bioflavonoids, those two classes of phytochemicals that scientists are studying extensively for their health-promoting potential.
Further studies are putting forward the role that this group of fruits and vegetables plays in the prevention of cataract formation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diverticulosis, and possibly, hypertension.
All fruits are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals and fiber and, unless you have a problem with too much fructose, it is ideal to consume at least 4-5 servings in a day.
It is much easier for the body to process and absorb the vitamins and minerals from fresh fruit when they are in their natural form.
In addition, fruit and vegetables provide the purest form of water for hydration and they are 100% bad cholesterol free.
Orange flesh with dozens of small black seeds
- Rich in anti-oxidants, B vitamins, folate and pantothenid acid promoting good heart health
- High in beta-carotene which provides vitamins C and A for a healthier immune system
- High in minerals potassium and magnesium
- Good source of fiber
- Contains digestive enzyme papain which is used to treat sports injuries, traumas and allergies
- The combined benefits of papayas can even provide protection against colon cancer
As we age, macular degeneration is one of the side effects. This natural degenerative disease can be prevented by consuming at least three servings of papaya every day. The antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E, are strongly related to the prevention of vision loss and therefore an excellent way to promote good vision.
Natural sea urchin remedy!
The papaya provides a useful home remedy too if you should encounter a stubborn thorn in your flesh or even step on a prickly sea urchin while exploring marine rock pools. Cut an overripe papaya in half, remove the seeds and apply flesh side down to the area securely (tie on with some string if necessary) for an hour or so. After this time, remove and the flesh of the paw paw should have sucked out the painful thorn or prickles.
More papaya facts
Originating from South America, the carica papaya has been grown commercially in Hawaii, other areas of the US, Mexico and Puerto Rico and those other parts of the world with tropical and sub tropical climates. Where I live in South Africa, we call this fruit paw paw and I love to eat and serve cut into halves after removing any seeds and with freshly squeezed lemon.
Also known as the tree melon, a papaya tree can grow up to 10 meters, but is not the prettiest of sights with a single narrow stem that sprout leaves and fruit at the top. Interestingly, papaya plants come in three genders: male, female and bisexual, and their flowers are different, with male flowers being made by several small blooms, while females have one big bloom.
The GMO connection
There is one downside to papayas and that is the fact that genetically modified (GM) papayas have been developed in Hawaii to such an extent that 75% of their crop is now GM. But being able to sell to the Japanese market is critical to the success of Hawaii's papaya industry. Sales of Hawaiian papaya to Japan were $15 million in 1996 but dwindled to $1.2 million in 2009 due to the shortage of non-GMO papaya.
However, in April 2010, Japan approved the importation of GM papaya from Hawaii. Japan requires that the GM papayas be labelled as a genetically modified food. The success of GM Hawaiian papaya exports is dependent on the consumers in Japan being willing to buy a GM labeled product and pay the same as a non-GM papaya from other parts of the world.
To me there is no contest – always choose the non-GM product. It is worth while researching the topic of GM crops for your own information and interest. You might be surprised.