By: Nutrition expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.
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Papaya: A Tropical delight
The papaya (Carica papaya), a delicious fruit found in most tropical and semitropical countries. Among the total tropical fruit production in the world (2012), papaya was ranked third, following production of mango and pineapple. The digestive enzyme papain, isolated from papaya, is used as an ingredient in brewing, meat tenderizing, pharmaceuticals and cosmetic industries (1), (2).
Carica papaya (known in Ayurveda as Erand-karkati) is also well known for its medicinal properties (3). Traditionally, different parts of the papaya plant are used in the treatment of various ailments such as asthma, ulcers, eczema, diabetes, helminth infections and fever (4).
Research also demonstrated its beneficial traditional role in wound healing, and in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, dengue fever, cancer, malaria, hypoglycaemia, hyperlipidaemia, fungal diseases and as a male contraceptive (5), (6).
Nutritional value of Papaya:
Papaya is rich in iron and calcium; a good source of vitamins A, B and G and an excellent source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The extracts of unripe C. papaya contain terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids, carbohydrates, glycosides, saponins, and steroids.
Health benefits of Papaya:
- Papaya leaf has a numberless of benefits. In some parts of Asia, the young leaves of the papaya are steamed and eaten like spinach.
- Papaya leaf juice helps increase white blood cells and platelets, normalizes clotting, and repairs the liver.
- Recent research on papaya leaf tea extract has demonstrated cancer cell growth inhibition.
- Papaya leaves are made into tea as a treatment for malaria.
- The leaves of the papaya plants contain chemical compounds of karpain, Substance which kills microorganisms that often interfere with the digestive function.
- Ripe papaya fruit is laxative which assures of regular bowel movement.
- Papaya seeds have antibacterial properties and are effective against E.coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus infections.
- The presence of vitamin A helps to restore and rebuild damaged skin. Applied papaya peel used as skin lightening agent. When peel mixed with honey and applied it can act as soothe and moisturizers the skin.
- The fibre of papaya is able to bind cancer-causing toxins in the colon and keep them away from the healthy colon cells. These nutrients provide synergistic protection for colon cells from free radical damage to their DNA.
- Protein enzymes including papain and chymopapain and antioxidant nutrients found in papaya; including vitamin C, vitamins E, and beta-carotene, reduce the severity of the conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Men consuming lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables such as papaya, tomatoes, apricots, pink grapefruit, watermelon, and guava were 82% less likely to have prostate cancer compared to those consuming the least lycopene-rich foods.
- Papaya has many phenolic groups which may scavenge free radicals. Aqueous extract of papaya leaves shows anti-oxidant activity.
Carica papaya is a nutraceutical plant having a wide range of pharmacological activates. The whole plant has its own medicinal value. The wide range of enzymes, vitamins present in Carica papaya makes it a nutraceutical plant.
- Khare, C. P. (2004). Indian herbal remedies: rational Western therapy, ayurvedic, and other traditional usage, Botany. Springer science & business media.