Carica Papaya: A Must-Have Superfruit In Your Kitchen Lab
Living in Thailand was a wondrous experience and at times we felt a bit like little curious children in the animated series of Sylvanian Families (only some Millennials will remember). Every day we would be opening the door to a different story accompanied by adventure and thrill.
We loved the vibe, the weather and most importantly – food. Over the course of over three months, we got to taste some truly delish foods. Amongst them was the fiery orange tropical fruit, called Papaya which I can’t wait to tell you all about.
Almost addicted to papaya’s taste, I wanted to know more about its culinary and medicinal use in the local pharmacies. I decided to do my own research on this exotic fruit. I’ve put some information together for you and me. Enjoy the lecture, I was totally amazed!
What is a Papaya?
Carica papaya is papaya’s scientific classification name for this bright orange or green exotic fruit. Sometimes it is referred to as ‘fruit of the angels’, the name originally used by Christopher Columbus.
Depending on where you live, papaya is known also as Papaw, Pawpaw, Paw Paw, Mamao and Tree melon. In case you didn’t know, it is considered to be one of the best superfoods for a whole range of reasons which I am going to tell you about.
What does a papaya look like?
Perhaps you have seen it many times and walked past it without giving papaya much of attention. It has elongated shape, something between butternut squash and mango. When you cut papaya into slices, it can look quite similar to melon.
Here are a few things that will help you distinguish this divine fruit:
- Flesh inside varies from greenish yellow to vibrant, flaming orange.
- Sweet flavour and succulent flesh.
- Contains black jellylike seeds in the centre of papaya.
- Soft, creamy like texture that can somehow resemble the almost butter-like consistency, it literally melts in your mouth.
- Mature papaya ran reach up to 45 cm in length and 30 cm in diameter.
Papaya’s origin, Climate and Growth
- Grows in tropical climates
- Originates from Central America and Mexico, now it is widely cultivated in most tropical countries, from South East Asia, India, certain regions of Africa to Hawaii
- Used in ancient medicine for centuries
- Papaya fruit grows on papaya tree which is relatively small, ranging from 5 to 10m long.
Papaya for Digestion
Digestion aid – papaya is a great source of dietary fibre that stimulates food movement and boost your metabolism. Free radicals, undigested proteins and toxins depositing in your colon. Those toxins may trigger cancer cell production are absorbed by papaya’s soluble fibre, leaving your intestinal tract healthy.
Enzymes in papaya fruit effectively defuse acidic and fungal bacterial growth. People who suffer from digestive problems like acid reflux, belching, bloating, cirrhosis, heartburn and constipation will find relief from this amazing superfood. Thanks to its calming properties, papaya promotes natural healing of stomach lining and eliminates existing intestinal parasites.
Papaya for Respiration
Reduces coughing bouts in smokers – Active and passive smokers can be affected by toxic cigarette substances resulting in lung inflammation and excessive coughing bouts. It is suggested to drink regularly a small glass of papaya juice. This should lessen these symptoms. Papaya is known for its high efficacy in preventing inflammation, partly owing to high content of vitamin A, C and E.
Asthma – With an increasing numbers of people being reported as asthmatic, the importance of having balanced diet and making conscious lifestyle changes is ever more present. You do not need to follow a strict diet for asthma. However, there are certain foods good for asthma, in particular the ones containing high levels of vitamin C.
Papaya, citrus fruits, berries, red pepper, tomato and dark leafy vegetables will increase your immunity, reduce frequency and intensity of asthma attacks. High content of ascorbic acid in vitamin C neutralises free radicals which can lead to contractions of smooth muscles in the airways. In other words, free radicals are nothing else but unstable molecules that can trigger various reactions and bugs in our bodies.
Vitamin C, when consumed in accordance with RDA, can effectively reduce release of histamine and break it down quicker. As a result, tightening of airways, wheezing, shortness of breath or dry tickly cough, typical symptoms of such inflammation, can be reduced.
Active role in preventing smoking-related diseases like emphysema or lung cancer. Abundant amounts of vitamin A found in papaya and beta-cryptoxanthin effectively prevent and slow down symptoms of emphysema and lung-related illnesses. This, reducing risk of lung cancer by up to 30%. Nevertheless, more research in this field still needs to be taken.
Papaya for Weight loss
Weight loss – Low in calories and sodium, Carica papaya is often introduced in weight loss programs. I thought you might want to know that it is also cholesterol-free and fat-free! If you think this will leave you hungry for hours, fear no more. Papaya belongs to a group of foods that make you feel full.
Often referred to as Paw paw, thanks to its high-fibre content, belongs to the food range with high fullness factor. This is often referred to as high satiety level. In other worsds, it is the feeling associated with feeling full after a meal. Buy food that effectively suppresses your urge to reach out for an after-meal snack. Seeds of papaya act as natural body fat regulator preventing your digestive system from absorbing excess fat, allowing you to stay in shape.
If you want to know what to eat to lose weight, do what I did and add papaya into your diet. Do not live off papaya, it has to be eaten in moderation. Don’t forget to exercise and make tweaks to your food habits as there are no easy ways to lose weight. Choose fresh or dried papaya over the one in a can with sugary syrup to avoid excess sugar.
Papaya for Blood and heart
Treats hypertension – An increasing number of health specialist recommend their patients to implement papaya in their daily diet if they suffer from hypertension. Potassium is an important mineral that fights the underlying problem by effectively reducing blood pressure levels and maintaining the norm.
Reduces cholesterol – high concentration of fibre, beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamin A, C and E reduces level of cholesterol in the blood and heart-related diseases. Moreover, the combination of these vital elements drops the level oxidation of cholesterol, giving some more room to your narrowed arteries.
In short, combine papaya with your morning porridge. this powerful combo for breakfast will eliminate LDL aka bad cholesterol from your blood, known as low density lipoprotein.
Supports heart functions thanks to large quantities of vitamin A, C, E and phosphorus found in papaya – preventing from heart-related malfunctioning, such as diabetic heart and atherosclerosis disease.
Blood circulation – papain enzyme breaks down fibrin protein which often causes blood clots. Papain is particularly important for breaking down protein.
Papaya for Bones and Muscles
Fights arthritis and osteoarthritis – Papaya contains variety of enzymes with chemopapain enzyme having considerable impact on treating symptoms of osteoarthritis and arthritis. Papaya seed tea is known as natural remedy that relieves symptoms, like pain and edema.
Papaya tea is recommended by physicians as it stimulates muscle flexibility and overall mobility through triggering renewal of muscle tissues. If you cannot find a papaya tea in your local supermarket, why not make your own one with papaya dried leaves.
Papaya and Ladies talk
Regulates menstrual abnormalities – women with history and tendency of irregular periods are advised to drink preferably unripe, green papaya fruit to induce production of estrogen, primary female hormone that trigger periods.
Papaya for Immunity, Infections and Inflammation
Anti-inflammatory properties – papain and chymopapain enzymes have proven effects in reducing inflamed areas in human body.
Boosts immune system – thanks to high concentration of vitamin C, a single portion of this powerful antioxidant fruit will prevent you from catching a cold.
Anti-viral properties – in some countries papaya fruit and leaves are used to suppress various symptoms of viral infections, including malaria, mosquito-borne disease by raising levels of thrombocytes in the blood and reinforcement of one’s immune system. Papaya seeds are used to treat symptoms of Dengue fever in some tropical parts of South East Asia and Latin America.
Anti-fungal properties – Papaya benefits are finding numerous application in medicine to fight fungal allergies and infections. Pawpaw extract contains antimicrobial elements like latex and is used to cure fungal infections.
Papaya As a Painkiller
Toothache alleviation – Papaya paste will provide relief from toothaches if massaged gently onto teeth and gums. In Fiji, this custom is widely practised also for early treatment of cavities.
Natural painkiller – raw papaya paste is said to be an effective way to alleviate pain from stings, rashes, burns and even cuts. Thanks to its natural antioxidant properties it can break down toxins in the stings and insect bites
Papaya For Eyesight
Vision support – Papaya contains carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, often found in green leafy vegetables like carrots, kale and spinach. Those potent carotenoids provide protection to human retina, keeping our eyes safe from various eye conditions.
Together with vitamin A these three compounds play active role in preventing age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), a disease causing partial and total loss of vision due to damaged retina, keeping your eyesight in good condition.
Short-sighted people like me dream of waking up one day to a 20/20 vision. If you want to maintain good eyesight throughout your life, do not neglect food good for eyes, like carrots or papaya. These powerful super fruits contain large quantities of Vit C and effectively improve eye health.
Papaya for Urinary Tract Infections
Cures renal ailments – dark, gelatinous seeds found in papaya are said to be one of the best natural, non-invasive ways to treat kidney and urinary diseases.
Papaya and Cancer
Significantly reduces the risk of prostate cancer– the fruit of papaya is rich in antioxidants, including lycopene, an active ingredient that prevents development of prostate cancer.
Anti-cancerous properties – according to WeeksMD papaya seeds contain immune-modulatory compounds which can effectively reduce risk of blood cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. Consuming papaya can attribute to preventing growth of tumour and cancerous cells.
Papaya for Indigestion
Relief for constipation and piles (haemorrhoids) – papaya’s soft and lightly sweet texture makes it easy to digest this ultra-rich in nutrients super-fruit. Rather than stuffing yourself with tons of OTC medication, shop around for foods high in fiber.
Natural constipation remedies are within your reach: beans, nuts, prunes, humous and fiery orange papaya are only some of the amazing food for constipation worries. Papaya contains dietary fiber that dissolves in the water, doing the hard job for you.
Prevents and fights symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) – IBS and other indigestion problems are known to many of us, especially those with poor dietary habits. Papaya contains soluble fibre which dissolves in water, being an effective and natural dietary aid in tackling IBS. IBS Remedy Reviews advises that regular consumption of papaya regulates your digestion, eliminates cramping which often results in diarrhea, bloating and constipation.
Papaya for Longer life
Extends lifespan if consumed regularly – some cultures believe that this heavenly fruit will grant you a long, healthy life. Indeed, this common belief isn’t far from the truth. If you take care of your body, sport healthy lifestyle, nourish your internal organs and digestive system, papaya will treat you well too and allow you to look and feel younger for longer.
Papaya is packed with vitamins, minerals and carotenoids that take care of your health and body functions on the inside whilst keeping your skin young and glowing with joy on the outside.
Papaya & Pregnancy – Does and Don’ts
Aphrodisiac – Unripe papaya is considered an aphrodisiac food in some cultures. Apparently this fruit works for women, bringing romance vibes to the table prior to your ‘sexy time’.
Trying to get pregnant? – You must have seen pharmacy baby-related sections, encouraging ladies to use folic acid to get pregnant. If you are considering pregnancy in the near future, papaya may have its say to this wonderful stage of your life. Papaya is one of the few natural sources of folic acid.
It contains about a quarter of your RDA folic acid also called folate and is often used by women wanting to conceive and during first trimester of pregnancy. Folic acid is used daily as a supplement to prevent development of neutral tube defects (NTD) like spina bifida.
Papaya during pregnancy alert– Remember to be wise about the right amount of papaya intake. Excess papaya, especially the unripe one, can bring unwanted effects. This is due to high concentration of Latex in unripe and semi-ripe papaya fruit inducing uterine contractions which can turn into miscarriage.
Papaya and Beauty
Papaya for skin
Skin care treatments – Whether you suffer from dry flaky skin, or simply want to pamper yourself, give papaya mask a go. This everyday superfood contains enzymes that not only work as moisturiser on your skin but also exfoliate your face from dead skin cells and boosts cell renewal.
After mere 30 minutes interaction with papaya’s enzymes, your face will become hydrated, radiant and silky smooth. During cold, winter season, ointments containing papaya will keep your skin free from cracks, cuts, dry flakes and dry skin patches after pregnancy. If papaya isn’t easily obtainable from your local supermarket, try Papaya ointment by Phytocare.
Acne, burns and irritated skin – Papaya’s properties prove to be successful with various skin conditions. Facial massage can help you get rid of dead cells and is used by some of the leading brands in the beauty sector. Latex extracted from papaya flesh is used treat affected areas.
Invest time into your own beauty’s sake and make your own facial mask to cure acne. And if it’s too much work to do it every day, I thought you may want to check out some reviews about Likas papaya soap to find out what is all the hype about.
Latex will be also advantageous for sunburned area when applied on the skin, reducing symptoms and gradually clearing the skin from marks.
Anti-aging properties – large amounts of papain enzyme and antioxidants found in this packed-with-vitamins-and-minerals divine fruit will keep your skin look younger for longer. Regular consumption of papaya and facial masks will reduce free radicals from oxidation, exfoliate dead skin cells, hydrate your skin and leave it firmer and moisturised.
Papaya for hair
Promotes hair growth – Papaya improves circulation to the follicles and subsequently stimulates hair growth. This is owing to the folic acids and vitamin A found in this tremendously useful fruit. Love your long hair but you find it frizzy and dry? Do you ever dream of nourished, silky hair? Brush mashed papaya with olive oil or yogurt over right from the top all the way to the bottom and rinse it thoroughly before applying shampoo.
Dandruff enemy Have you ever come down with dandruff? Well, we all know that dandruff neither does look or feel good on you. Perhaps you no longer need to give in to this nasty condition caused by fungal infection. Anti-fungal properties found in papaya seeds will help you take more control over it. Check out the Hint, Hint! section (right at the bottom of this page) with effective home remedies for dandruff using simple papaya with yogurt hair mask.
More on benefits of papaya for skin
Papaya is a powerful fruit that has found multiple application around various areas of culinary, medicine and cosmetology. Papaya will not only moisturise your skin but also reduce appearance of wrinkles and under eye bags. If you are looking for a natural remedy to psoriasis and even scaly eczema, you should not underestimate the potential of papaya fruit.
Dermatologists find papaya useful in treating a wide range of skin conditions. Applying papaya on your skin is safe and can be done in your home surroundings. Here are the amazing benefits papaya can bring onto your skin:
Treats skin discoloration and acne scarring – In some countries where skin whitening is a hot topic, papaya is widely used for effective skin whitening and treating skin discoloration, like dark spots, acne marks and other types of blemishes.
Exfoliates dead skin cells – Papaya’s enzyme papain can be applied to your skin using fresh pulp or exfoliating mask. It will get rid of outer layer of your skin picking up all dead cells and stimulate cell renewal. If you’re after paraben free range, try Xfoli8 by Protege Beauty with pumpkin and papaya extract. You will get rid of blackheads, brighten up your skin, leave it smooth free from spots and blemishes.
Acne and spots – Have had enough of dealing with yet another breakout of unwanted, red spots? Dermatologist appointments and various ointments are quite costly and home remedies may simply work well for you. Apply fresh unripe raw papaya onto your face for about 15 minutes and rinse it with lukewarm water. Repeat it over the next 6-8 weeks.
After about a month you should see red spots slowly fading away.You can either get the fresh papaya, use it in a form of a natural Papaya soap twice a day or exfoliating mask. Papain enzyme found in papaya will reduce the redness and inflammation caused by spots, leaving your face looks healthier.
Repairs ageing skin – Poor dietary habits, especially amongst Westerners, lead to lack of nutrients that can naturally restore beautiful, radiant and firm skin. It is essential not to overlook fruit and vegetable as your natural source of vitamins and minerals. What you see on the outside is a pure reflection of how you maintain your body internally.
Take care of your diet, introduce products packed with antioxidants like papaya and green leafy veg and wait for astonishing results. You will reduce free radicals that lead to oxidation and cause damage to your cells. Do you feel that you look older than you should, see distinctive lines around your forehead, wrinkles around your lips, disturbing crow feet?
Or maybe your complexion looks a bit dull and colourless and you started noticing some dark, age spots and you feel that your face is sagging? Well, you need a generous boost of vitality. OTC medication is not going to treat signs of aging but you can take a firmer stand on this process with the right diet. Start with veggie and fruit packed diet followed by a simple papaya-olive oil home-made face mask.
Little Known Papaya Seeds Benefits and Nutrition Facts
Seeds are often neglected in papaya fruit and end up being thrown away. In fact, papaya’s seeds are edible and contain natural properties found in papaya flesh. Seeds can be used as culinary substitute for black pepper thanks to its spicy flavour or added do creams and salads.
Papaya seeds can play an active role in renal illnesses and certain viral infections, detoxifying liver and prevent cancer, however, they should be consumed in small quantities. In some places like Central America and South East Asia, papaya seeds are used to treat even life-threatening viral infections, including Dengue Fever.
Papaya for babies
It is safe to introduce papaya in your baby’s diet. Parents often run out of baby food ideas when their little one is in transition from liquid infant diet and moving slowly onto solid foods. Papaya is soft, has creamy texture and fits in the baby diet for several reasons. Papaya has many nutrients and can be used as a healthy snack.
It does not require a lot of biting or chewing which makes it easy to introduce it to babies as little as 9-10 months old that are going through teething stage. Babies handle it well, their tummies digest foods quicker and lastly, papaya tastes better than baby soups.
Thanks to its nutrients a small portion of papaya will bring many essential vitamins and minerals into your baby’s diet and can be introduced as one of first fruits for babies. You can also thank papaya for assisting your little one in correct bowel movement.
If you’re having a hard time with baby nappy rash or baby eczema, you can apply papaya paste on your baby’s skin or try papaya-rich ointment that will save you time and do the trick for you. Over the course of a month you will start seeing noticeable changes to affected area.
Papaya and digestion-friendly diet for elderly
Elderly people often see their appetite levels reduced and complain about their mouth getting dry. Chewing difficulties and digestion problems are some of the common symptoms frequently reported. Luckily, these problems can be solved when you make small tweaks to their daily diet, such as including papaya.
It is important to remember that elderly people need a balanced diet which consists of foods that are easily digestible. Like in the case of babies, it is recommended to introduce papaya in a moderate quantity. You can cut pawpaw into smaller pieces or blend it with banana and serve it as fresh papaya smoothie.
Papaya Nutrition Facts in a nutshell
- Source of Vitamin A – 1/3 of daily recommended value per serving. Great for healthy skin, eyesight and mucous membranes
- Vitamin B
- Packed with Vitamin C – almost 150% of RDA in just one serving. There is more vitamin C in papaya than in orange
- Vitamin E – 1 / 4 of daily recommended value
- Rich in carotene
- Replete with minerals
- Potassium – an electrolyte responsible for balanced fluid composition in the blood.
- Folate – prevents birth defects and promotes healthy cell production.
- Rich in flavonoids, known as vitamin P – nutrients that respond well to changes happening in your body. Bioflavanoids found in papaya flesh work in your favour, changing the way your immune system reacts to viruses, allergens and most importantly, carcinogens.
- High content of antioxidants – lycopene
- Carotenoids – Lutein and Zeaxanthin – protecting human retina, beta-cryptoxanthin with cancer-fighting properties
- Abundant in dietary fibre – its soluble fibre is easy to dissolve in water which makes it easy to digest and reach the intestinal tract.
- Low in calories
- Papain – papaya enzyme found in green papaya widely used as meat tenderiser. Its highest concentration can be found in the neck of papaya fruit and paw paw leaf extracts.
- Chemopapain – papaya enzyme
What is pawpaw extract used for?
- Papaya leaf tea
- Papaya milk
- Papaya oil for culinary use
- Skin care products in cosmetic industry
- Papaya soap
- Fermented green papaya
- Freeze dried papaya
- Skin whitening powder
- Pickled papaya
- Meat tenderizer
- Ointments and creams
- Papaya powder
- Papaya tablets
- Aromatherapy essential oil
- Papaya smoothies
- Vegetable and Fruit Salads
How to prepare and consume a papaya
- Can be consumed ripe, unripe and dried
- Peel the skin
- Take out the seeds
Are papaya seeds edible?
- Seeds are consumed in some parts of Asia due to their spicy and strong flavour. When ground, they can be used to alternate black pepper.
Where to buy papaya?
If you are looking for a fresh papaya, some supermarkets with larger grocery section may be a good place to start with. Another option would be organic shops and Asian supermarkets, both are worth checking out. If this still proves to be tricky, try dried papaya or canned papaya in syrup.
If you want to add papaya to your diet on a regular basis and are running out of ideas, try chewable papaya enzyme tablets or dried leaves which you can use as your breakfast tea replacement for a fresh start in the mornings.
Exotic Papaya dishes that will blow your mind
Papaya is incredibly yummy and I strongly recommend anyone to try it in its raw version before searching up some culinary ideas. If, however, you are past this stage and are ready for some kitchen porn, here is a little compilation of where to use this colourful delish.
Some of the below outlandish-sounding names are traditional dishes from South East Asia and I find them insanely delicious. They may appeal to more adventure-seeking cooking aficionados but they are totally worth giving them a go. If you are more traditional in the kitchen, try Papaya-based twists of Western foods you are already familiar with.
Papaya Food ideas
- Papaya soup
- Som tam (or som tum)
- Green papaya fish soup
- Papaya Sling
- Green papaya salad with avocado
- Green papaya stir fry
- Papaya and snow fungus soup
- Papaya and coconut muffins
- Papaya and coconut cupcakes
- Papaya and passion fruit fool
- Mango and Papaya Mousse
- Sushi with tropical fruit
- Macadamia Papaya cheesecake
- Asian fruit salad
- Papaya lime soup
- Papaya Chicken Casserole
- Tropical Quesadillas
- Tiger Shrimp Glass noodle salad
- Vietnamese Sinhto
- Papaya and young coconut soup
- Yucatan chicken skewers with papaya
- Thai Tilapia with Papaya
- Fruit Paella
- Papaya Chia Mousse with Cashews
- Papaya bars
- Papaya chicken
- Papaya Prawn stew / Mamao com Porto
- Chicken Stew with Green Papaya
- Papaya pancakes
- Kaeng Som
I will do my best do add mouth-watering papaya recipes to the above list as I go along but if you feel that waiting is not an option for you and need to know it now, drop me an email with an enquiry for the dish-specific formula.
Side effects of papaya
Risky for pregnant women in its unripe form. Small quantities will provide you with the RDA of folic acid. With that being said, be careful about larger quantities as latex in papaya can induce uterine contractions ending even in miscarriage. However, it is best to consult recommended quantity with your GP.
Laxative effect – Papaya should not be consumed in excessive quantities due to potential laxative effect and oesophagus tract impairment.
Orange skin tone – Excessive consumption may also lead to distinctive yellowish to light orange hue on palms, often referred to carotenemia (due to excess of beta carotene) which is harmless.
PAPAYA FACE MASK
Why not try to treat yourself to a yummy Papaya face mask? Guess what, all these amazing natural skin care products are from… your fridge! Check out for yourself a few times and let us know about the outcome.
What you need:
- 5 mins for preparation
- 3 tea spoons of papaya
- 2 tea spoons of avocado
- 1 tea spoon of honey
- Fork and bowl / pestle and mortar
Once per week:
Place papaya, avocado and honey preferably in the mortar or bowl. Using pestle or fork mash up papaya and avocado into fine, smooth texture until you get a little sticky, gooey like texture. Apply the mask onto your face and neckline and rest your mind. Rinse the mask with lukewarm water and dry your skin patting with soft towel.
What it does:
- Kills dead skin cells
- Leaves your face radiant and firmer
- Purifies your skin
- Wakes your skin up
- Hydrates your face and neckline
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces fine lines
- Lifts your mood up
- Adds elasticity, giving the almost velvety skin feeling
PAPAYA HAIR MASK
Dandruff, you again? If you love your hair as much as I do and wish the best for it, then try this wonderful home- made deep conditioning hair mask. It will work on thinning hair, dull hair and recurring problems with dandruff.
What you need:
- 5 minutes for preparation
- 4 tablespoons of fresh papaya pulp
- 4 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- soft brush
Once per week:
Peel papaya and scoop out 4 tablespoon of fresh papaya pulp. Place in a blender with yogurt and squeeze one teaspoon of lemon juice. Blend it the ingredients till the paste becomes smooth. Using a soft brush, apply the puréed papaya hair mask onto your scalp and full length of your hair from the top to the bottom of strands. Leave for at least 20 – 30 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and apply shampoo.
What it does:
- Hydrates your scalp and hair
- Nourishes your hair with beta carotene and vitamin C
- Stimulates hair follicles that generate production of sebum
- Softens your hair and makes it luscious
- Prevents hair thinning, greying and mild symptoms of balding
- Reduces hair fall
- Brings shiny and healthy looking, thicker hair
However, if preparing this heavenly natural hair mask seems too much of a chore to you, you may consider a papaya-based deep conditioning hair mask.
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