September is National Papaya Month! This bright, orange colored fruit is not only a beautiful color, but it is very nutritious! The papaya is a tropical fruit and is indigenous to central and South America, and are also known as papaws or pawpaws. Papayas are one of the only fruits available all year round. The beneficial enzymes in papaya weaken as they ripen more, so it’s best to use them within a day of buying.
Papayas are high in vitamins C and A, fiber, and have many health benefits. These include:
Fights inflammation: Papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which can break down the tough protein chains found in muscle meat. Studies have shown that this enzyme speeds healing by clearing away dead protein matter and calming inflammation. Chronic inflammation is at the root of many diseases. Papayas are very high in carotenoids that can reduce inflammation.
Stomach Soother – Papaya is also high in fiber and water content, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.
Antioxidants – Papayas have high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants, including the carotenoids found in papayas, can neutralize free radicals Free radicals are reactive molecules created during your body’s metabolism. They can promote oxidative stress, which can lead to disease and aging.
Combats Alzheimer’s disease – Researchers believe that excessive free radicals in the brain are an important factor in Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, people with Alzheimer’s given a fermented papaya extract for six months experienced a 40% drop in a biomarker which indicates oxidative damage to DNA — and is also linked to aging and cancer. The reduction in oxidative stress is attributed to papaya’s lycopene content and ability to remove excess iron, which is known to produce free radicals. Not only are papayas delicious, but they can potentially help with Alzheimer’s!
Fights Cancer – Early research suggests that the antioxidants in papaya may reduce cancer risk and perhaps even slow cancer progression. suggests that the lycopene in papaya can reduce cancer risk. It may also be beneficial for people who are being treated for cancer because chemotherapy can disrupt the digestive tract. Additionally, papaya may have some unique effects not shared by other fruits. Among 14 fruits and vegetables with known antioxidant properties, only papaya demonstrated anticancer activity in breast cancer cells.
Heart Health – Adding more papaya to your diet may boost your heart health. Studies show that fruits high in lycopene and vitamin C may help prevent heart disease. The antioxidants in papaya may protect your heart and enhance the protective effects of “good” HDL cholesterol. In one study, people who took a fermented papaya supplement for 14 weeks had less inflammation and a better ratio of “bad” LDL to “good” HDL than people given a placebo.