Yes, Papaya is Paleo!
Fruit of the Angels
Also known as papaws or pawpaws, papaya is a tropical fruit that was previously known as exotic and rare but is now readily available all year round. It is native to Mexico and Central America but is now cultivated in most tropical regions such as Hawaii which is the only state in the US where papaya is commercially grown.
Papaya has a rich sweet, succulent taste and a vibrant butter yellow color when fully ripe. Its shape is spherical and is similar to a pear but much bigger in size. Papaya’s flesh is orange in color and contains dozens of small, black, gelatinous seeds at the center. These seeds are also edible but have peppery and somewhat bitter taste.
It has two main varieties: Mexican and Hawaiian. Mexican papaya can weigh as much as 10 pounds and is smaller than the Hawaiian variety.
Because of its deliciously sweet, musky taste and soft consistency, Christopher Columbus once referred it to as the “Fruit of the Angels”. There are many ways on how to consume papaya and it is wonderful as fruit juices, salads, salsa and of course as a fruit, by itself
Nutritional Value of Papaya
Papaya is a Paleo fruit that contains about 144% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. It contains papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins. Papain is usually concentrated in an unripe fruit and is extracted to create digestive enzyme dietary supplements. It is effective in alleviating stomach and intestinal problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Papaya also contains B vitamins and vitamin A and nutrients such as folate, dietary fiber, potassium and flavanoids including beta carotene. It also has trace amounts of magnesium, copper and calcium.
Health Benefits of Papaya
Papaya offers a wide array of health benefits including reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, aiding in digestion, improving blood sugar levels in diabetics, lowering blood pressure, and improving wound healing.
Rich in Vitamin C
As mentioned above, one of the most important benefits of papaya is that it provides huge amount of Vitamins C which is important in fighting against infections and free radicals. Sufficient intake of vitamin C is needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair.
Papaya has been associated with healing many ailments including atherosclerosis, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. It also helps keep the digestive and immune systems healthy. The seeds of papaya have been used in traditional medicine to treat parasite and ringworm infections.
Choline is another nutrient in papaya that helps maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.
The 212 amino acids and enzymes including papain in papaya have inflammatory effects in the stomach. It helps in faster digestion of protein and has been proven effective in treating ulcers and relieving Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Papaya is also high in fiber and water content, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.
Papaya is rich in flavanoids beta carotene which is proven to fight against some cancers specifically in the colon, lungs and mouth.
Papaya also contains lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthins that act as potent antioxidants and fight against free radicals causing premature aging and degenerative diseases. Zeaxanthin plays a role in eye health and could possibly protect against macular degeneration that is age related.
Inadequate amount of vitamin K in the body is associated with higher risk of bone fracture. Papaya is rich in vitamin K and this improves calcium absorption to keep the bones healthy.
High fiber diets can lower blood sugar levels. Papaya is also rich in dietary fiber which can be beneficial to people with diabetes in keeping sugar levels in place.
The fiber and potassium in papaya combined is helpful in preventing heart diseases. Fiber can help lower cholesterol levels. The increase in potassium intake and decrease in sodium intake can reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. Papaya seeds are also good for healthy heart. The powerful antioxidants vitamins A, C and E are all present in papaya and all of them can prevent heart ailments such as atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.
Papaya has been known to promote wound healing and prevent infection. Again, papain is responsible for this benefit. Some ointments that treat bedsores, eczema and psoriasis contain papain. Papain has a healing effect in irritated skin. Vitamin A is another nutrient found in papaya which is important in the growth of bodily tissues including the skin.
Warning on Papaya Consumption
Although papaya has this many health benefits, this fruit is best enjoyed infrequently as it is very high in fructose and glycemic index. This may not concern many people but for those who are already suffering from diabetes and trying to lose weight, try consuming papaya in moderation.
Another fair warning is that if you have latex allergy, then you can also be allergic to papaya because papaya contains chitanases which often causes cross-reaction between latex and food that contains them.
Other Names for Papaya
What Experts Say About Papaya
Though not as sugary as pineapples, these fruits are best enjoyed infrequently. A better choice is the banana, which – although starchy and a 55 on the glycemic index – is a smarter energy source. – Mark Sisson
All you ever wanted to know about Papaya and Paleo
Mark’s Daily Apple. Best and Worst Fruits
Paleo Porn. Is Papaya Paleo?
Wake the Wolves. Detox with Papaya
The World’s Healthiest Foods. Papaya
Food Facts. Mercola. What is Papay Good For?
Medical News Today. Papaya: Health Benefits, Uses, Risks
Organic Facts. 13 Surprising Benefits of Papaya
Smart Cooky. 8 Amazing Benefits of Papaya for Health and Skin
Did we miss anything?
Comment below and let us know what you think. Do you agree with our conclusion?
photo credit: eugeniasanz1 papaya-fruta-alimento- (6)