Papaya (Carica papaya) or paw paw is a yellow colored, sweet pulpy and juicy fruit growing abundantly in tropical climates. It is sweet and tasty and very useful for human beings in more than one ways. The raw as well as ripe fruit, leaves, e.t.c., all are very useful.
Papaya was called an angel of fruits by Christopher Columbus and this is very true. It offers so many health benefits to people that it is like a guardian angel of health.
The 2 most important ingredients are chymopapain and papain, of which papain aids in digestion. Eating papaya helps one get relief from the uncomfortable bloating sensation of the abdomen after food. It also helps in removing the uncomfortable sense of heaviness over the chest and abdomen or burning sensation which occurs due to dyspepsia.
It is a very effective naturally occurring laxative because of the high fiber content. One can be cured of chronic constipation if he consumes papaya regularly. Scientific studies have shown papaya to be having abundant amount of anti oxidants like beta carotene vitamin E and flavinoids.
These prevent damage to the body cells caused by free oxygen radicals liberated during various metabolic processes in the body. Immunity of the body, i.e. ability to fight diseases is also augmented by regular use of papaya. Scientists from the University of Florida have found that the papaya leaf extract boosted the production of chemicals that regulate and boost the immune system.
Papain present in papaya is also used to treat arthritis.
It is also rich in minerals like potassium and magnesium which are important ingredients of metabolic processes of the body. Vitamins B5 (pantothenic acid) which is involved in the manufacture of lipids, steroids and hemoglobin is present abundantly in papaya. It is also a rich source of folic acid (vitamin B9), which has a vital role in making new cells in the body.
Due to its beneficial effects right up to level of cells, papaya also helps in delaying aging.
Cancer can be prevented by regular consumption of papaya. It has been found to be very useful in preventing occurrence of cancers of the breast, lungs, liver, pancreas and cervix and preventing their growth. The researchers say that papaya may be used as an alternative cancer treatment. This would be immensely beneficial for the cancer patients who undergo painful chemo and radiotherapy for cancer, as this treatment will be without painful side effects.
The milky juice is extracted, dried and used as chewing gum and medicines for boosting digestion. Meat can be tenderized by wrapping it in a bruised papaya leaf before it is cooked.
The level of the compounds present in papaya, vary in the fruit, latex, leaves, and roots. Papaya has been used for digestive problems and intestinal worms. The softening and disintegrating qualities of papain (generally in alkaline combination, as with borax or potassium carbonate), have been used in the treatment of warts, corns, sinuses, and chronic forms of scaly eczema, skin tubercles, and other types of hardness of the skin, produced by irritation, etc. Local applications of papaya paste help in the healing of bed sores.
Green fruits of papaya are useful in reducing high blood pressure and are also used as an aphrodisiac. It is useful in treating worm infestations, amenorrhea and general debility.
Papaya can be used in multiple ways. The ripe fruit can be consumed directly or can be part of salads and desserts. The pulp can be blended with milk to make tasty papaya shake. It can also be used in a paste form as a face pack. Green papaya can be cooked like any other vegetable and used.
Thus one can see that there are multiple advantages of papaya and no harm whatsoever. Thus for maintaining good health, one can start taking papaya regularly.
Dr. Rachna Pande is Specialist, internal medicine-Ruhengeri Hospital