Papayas (Carica papaya) may not be strange to you, but are they part of your regular healthy diet? As we celebrate National Papaya Month, we would like to zoom into all the underrated potentials of this succulent tropical fruit. With very rapid growth and numerous varieties, papaya is one fruit you can be sure to find regularly in your stores or supermarkets. It can be called a superfood because it has plenty of nutrients that impart great health benefits when consumed.
Want to know the amazing benefits of consuming papayas? Keep reading.
Helps with vision.
As we age, the macular of the eye is prone to degeneration due to the continuous destruction of the macular from the rays of light. Zeaxanthin, a compound found in papayas, is known for its potential in absorbing blue light rays, and ultimately reducing their destructive effects on the eyes. Consuming papayas can therefore help improve one’s vision and delay the onset of macular degeneration and cataract which are two very common eye problems that come with aging (1).
Prevents cancer and other degenerative diseases.
Papayas contain powerful antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin C, which help catch harmful atoms called free radicals. These free radicals are very reactive and thus initiate excessive oxidation reactions in the body, which eventually damage the body cells and put the body in a state of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is known to cause diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and liver disease (2). Some research studies have reported an improvement in the health of patients with precancerous stomach cancer liver disease and mild hypothyroidism who consumed fermented papayas extracts (3, 4).
Papayas are a very rich source of vitamin C, with about 60mg/100g of papaya which supplies 75% of the recommended daily value (DV) for vitamin C intake a day. Vitamin C plays an essential role in boosting our immune system by enhancing many processes in the body that enable the body to fight diseases. For example, it helps our white blood cells get faster to where there is an infection and helps them swallow and kill microbes, thus preventing us from getting sick (5, 6). Additionally, vitamin C helps our bodies to produce more collagen, which is responsible for making our skin more firm, tough, elastic, and ultimately more impenetrable to disease-causing microbes on the outside of the skin. If you cut your skin and you have enough vitamin C, your wound would heal faster. The poor healing of wounds is usually an indication of vitamin C deficiency (7).
Blood sugar control.
If you are diabetic and are wondering if papaya would increase your blood sugar levels, you can rest assured it would not. This is because papayas contain a good amount of fiber (2g/100g), and fiber is not digested, but slows down the exit of food in the stomach, thus reducing the postprandial blood sugar response (5, 8).
Papayas contain the enzyme papain, which helps in digestion. As a matter of fact, some over-the-counter digestive aids have extracts of papain in them (9). Besides papayas contain fiber and a lot of water (88g/100g) that helps to prevent constipation. Fiber pulls water from the intestines and increases both the bulk and volume of stool, which makes it easy to pass out stool (5, 10).
Papaya is not simply a tasty fruit but is deserving of the title “Superfood”. It is loaded with many health benefits and is very affordable. So, when next you go grocery shopping, be sure not to walk past the papaya shelf or basket. They sure deserve inclusion in your next grocery store run.
- Abdel-Aal, E.-S. M., Akhtar, H., Zaheer, K., & Ali, R. (2013). Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids and their role in eye health. Nutrients, 5(4), 1169–1185. doi:10.3390/nu5041169
- Saha, S. K., Lee, S. B., Won, J., Choi, H. Y., Kim, K., Yang, G.-M., … Cho, S.-G. (2017). Correlation between oxidative stress, nutrition, and cancer initiation. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(7). doi:10.3390/ijms18071544
- Marotta, Francesco, Yoshida, C., Barreto, R., Naito, Y., & Packer, L. (2007). Oxidative-inflammatory damage in cirrhosis: effect of vitamin E and a fermented papaya preparation: Oxidative damage in stable liver cirrhosis. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 22(5), 697–703. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1746.2007.04937.x
- Marotta, F., Barreto, R., Tajiri, H., Bertuccelli, J., Safran, P., Yoshida, C., & Fesce, E. (2004). The aging/precancerous gastric mucosa: a pilot nutraceutical trial. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1019(1), 195–199. doi:10.1196/annals.1297.031
- FoodData central. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2022, from Usda.gov website: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169926/nutrients
- Carr, A., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and immune function. Nutrients, 9(11), 1211. doi:10.3390/nu9111211
- Moores, J. (2013). Vitamin C: a wound healing perspective. British Journal of Community Nursing, Suppl, S6, S8-11. doi:10.12968/bjcn.2013.18.sup12.s6
- Ismawanti, Z., Benedictus Suparyatmo, J., & Wiboworini, B. (n.d.). Papaya as anti-diabetes type 2. doi:10.30476/IJNS.2019.81751.1013
- Saha, D., & Paul, S. (n.d.). Role of herbs, papain, microorganisms in digestion. Retrieved September 27, 2022, from Edu.np website: http://old.ku.edu.np/kuset/vol9_no1/26_review_DibyajyotiSaha_final.pdf
- Bellini, M., Tonarelli, S., Barracca, F., Rettura, F., Pancetti, A., Ceccarelli, L., … Rossi, A. (2021). Chronic constipation: Is a nutritional approach reasonable? Nutrients, 13(10), 3386. doi:10.3390/nu13103386