Papayas are a beautiful tropical fruit that features a buttery, soft texture and sweet taste. They grow in tropical climates and also are known as pawpaws or papaws. Their vibrant color and a wide variety of health benefits have made them a popular fruit. Back in the day, papayas were exotic and rare fruit since not many countries were producing it. However, today it is produced almost the entire year. The most popular papayas benefits include reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, aid in digestion, improving glucose control, and controlling diabetes. Here, we will explore the benefits offered by papayas and how you can store and grow them in your own to incorporate them into your diet.
Things to consider when buying apayas
When it comes to choosing papaya, here are some things you need to consider when you are going to eat it:
If you plan to eat it right away, choose the ones with reddish-orange skin and are slightly soft when you touch them. However, if you plan on buying papaya a few days in advance, choose those with yellow color patches. It will require a few days until they ripen. You may find some with black spots, you may want to avoid them.
Make sure that you clean and wash them properly before cutting it in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the black seeds located in the center. Then, scoop out the flesh or into pieces. If you plan on cutting them into pieces, make sure that you peel the skin off. The flesh can be consumed raw, or you can use it in your salads or other recipes. Remember, if you are serving a dish with papaya, make sure that you place them right before serving as they tend to make other fruits soft.
How to grow papaya?
Growing papaya from seed is the easiest way. Of course, it is not going to be cheap, but it will surely be successful. The seeds can be easily purchased from your local nursery or a supermart as they are readily available. There is one downside to growing papaya, and that is if you want to reap good fruit all year-round, you will have to take extreme care. Regardless, to grow papaya, you will need a frost-free climate, loads of sunlight, loads of water, and very good soil. If you have all the prerequisites, they can be grounded at any time of the year and will take nearly six months to give fruit.
How to store papaya?
Papaya can be stored in numerous ways. The first method is to refrigerate the fruit. Make sure that you opt for papayas that look yellow from the outside. There are two types of papayas: Hawaiian and Mexican. Hawaiian is the more popular type found in local stores.
After you have purchased the fruit, let it sit at room temperature for around three days until it can fully ripen. Once they are ripened, you can consume them. After you have cut it into pieces, place the chopped or uncut papaya into the fridge. Make sure that you consume the uncut portion within a week. If you want to preserve them for later, store the uncut and unpeeled papaya in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Another way to store papaya is by first washing it and then chopping it into pieces. Make sure that you peel the skin. Now cut the papaya in half and scoop the black seeds inside. Use a perforated plastic bag or a container to place them inside a refrigerator to be used for nearly a year. Even though it is not advised to store papaya for a year, but according to situations, it is understandable. However, make sure that you consume them as soon as possible.
Health Benefits of Papaya
Contains powerful antioxidants
The metabolism process taking place inside our bodies give birth to free radical cells that are reactive molecules. These radical cells can lead to life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Antioxidants such as carotenoids found in papayas can neutralize these radicals.
In one study, people with Alzheimer’s were given fermented papaya for six weeks and experienced a 40% drop in a biomarker, which indicates the damage caused by oxidation to DNA. This reduction in stress is associated with papaya’s lycopene content and its ability to remove excess iron, which is also known to produce free radicals.
Contains anti-cancer properties
Studies conducted state that lycopene in papaya could reduce the possibility of cancer. It may also be beneficial for those who are undergoing cancer treatment. Additionally, papayas have some unique effects, which other fruits do not.
Amongst the 14 fruits known for their antioxidant properties, only papayas were found to be active against breast cancer cells. Antioxidants present in your body act to prevent cells from oxidative stress damage. In some cases, they can help them recover as well. Therefore, if you are consuming papaya, be assured that it is providing you with the most effective antioxidant properties.
Improves heart health
Regular consumption of papaya may help with boosting your heart health. Fruits that are known to contain vitamin C and lycopene help prevent heart diseases. Therefore, the antioxidants present in papaya may help protect your heart and encourage the production of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.
In one study, it was found that people who were given fermented papaya for 14 weeks, had less inflammation and a better ‘bad’ to ‘good’ HDL ratio as compared to those in placebo.
Helps improve digestion
Papaya contains papain enzyme, which makes the digestion of protein easy. People living in tropics consider papaya an excellent remedy for constipation and other irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. In one study, people who took the papaya-based formula for 40 days had a significant improvement in bloating and constipation. Moreover, the seeds, leaves, and roots have also shown to treat ulcers in humans and animals.
Protects against skin damage
Papayas can also help make your skin look more toned and youthful. Excessive radical cells are associated with much of the wrinkling, sagging, and other skin damage that occurs with age. The presence of vitamin C and lycopene helps protect your skin and reduces signs of aging. In one study, people were provided lycopene supplements for 10-12 weeks. It was observed that skin redness decreased, which is a sign of skin damage and injury due to constant exposure to the sun.
Improves hair health
Papaya is also great for health as it contains vitamin A as it is required for sebum production. This helps keep the hair moisturized. More so, vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair. An adequate intake of vitamin C, which papayas can provide, will help to build and maintain collagen, which provides structure to the skin.
Papaya is rich in essential nutrients and features a delicious taste. The presence of powerful antioxidants such as lycopene helps reduce the probability of many diseases, especially the ones that come with age, such as cancer and heart disease. It may also help with reducing aging and keeping your skin smooth and fresh. Therefore, considering the growing, storing and buying tips, plant papaya yourself, or get your hands on one today to reap all the benefits.