A plate full of papaya with a drizzle of honey and lime is just what you need on a hot day. Yes, papaya, papita, or paw-paw, is a fruit which we all remember since our childhood. An ambrosial delight, papaya is full of goodness as papaya has various benefits both health-wise as well as cosmetic to make our life wonderful. It is one of the most recommended fruits for diabetics.
Fruit of the Carica papaya plant, this delicious nectar is full of fibre and has healthy properties. Available all year round, it is versatile and can be used for sweet as well as savoury dishes.
Papita, as it is called in Hindi, is famous for protecting vision and maintaining good eye health. A regular plate of papaya can prevent your eyesight from weakening. Ask any eye doctor and they will say ‘aye’ for papita.
It is a tropical fruit, incredibly healthy and a delight to eat. Let’s see how.
Papayas are rich in vitamin A, an antioxidant which neutralizes free radicals. Antioxidants prevent the oxidation of cholesterol which reduces blockages. This in turn reduces heart diseases as well as degeneration of the retina. Vitamin A improves eye health by protecting the corneas.
Papayas also contain carotenoids, and healthy antioxidants, particularly lycopene. Lycopene is a robust antioxidant which could reduce the risk of several diseases and other age-related ailments.
The fruit contains vitamins such as A, C, and E. If you are constipated, have a plate of papaya a few hours after you have had your dinner. It will help to relieve the situation the next day.
Diabetics can also enjoy papaya as it has low sugar as well as low glucose levels.
Having it for a 5 pm snack is a healthy way to keep hunger at bay. The fruit keeps you feeling full. Its nutritious levels maintain cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The delicious fruit also reduces liver inflammation. Carotenoids in papayas reduce chronic inflammation which is the cause of many illnesses.
Paw-paw supports kidney health as the potassium in the fruit cleans out the toxins and reduces uric acid accumulated in the blood.
Papita seeds, bitter to taste, also play their role in keeping the kidney healthy. Flavonoids in the seeds keep the cells from degenerating and help kidneys to function better. Use 2-3 papaya seeds to garnish salads, roasted meats, or grilled vegetables. You can use the raw seeds as a whole or crush them slightly.
As papaya is overflowing with nutrients, the combined advantage of this healthy goodness is the boost in immunity.
Cooking with Papaya
The enzyme papain in papaya tenderizes protein making it easier to digest it. This enzyme softens the meat by breaking tough collective tissue found in muscle meat. Therefore add papaya paste to your marinate and enjoy the delicious goodness of this fruit.
Apart from a fruit chaat or salads, you can try an innovation in savoury preparations too like salsa, dips and curries.
In desserts, papaya lends itself to many dishes like papaya halwa. There are many recipes even for raw papaya.
Protects against skin damage
In addition to keeping your body healthy, papaya can give you a taut and toned look. The antioxidants in papaya can help your skin improve from sun damage and protect it from fine lines.
Make a DIY papaya mask at home and see the difference. It works as an anti-ageing face mask as the alpha hydroxyl acids in the fruit hinder signs of ageing, wrinkles and fine lines while vitamins C and E revitalize the skin. It also acts as an exfoliator thus dissolving the dead skin cells and reducing the occurrence of clogged pores.
Mash half a cup of over-ripe papaya. Add one tablespoon and milk and honey. Apply it on your face and neck once or twice a week. You can also try readily available papaya products like face wash, facial masks, soap, scrubs, and more.
Selecting your paw-paw
Papaya has a lovely taste that we all love. But ensure you buy ripe papaya.
Unripe or overly ripe papaya can taste different from a ripe one. If the papaya is ripe, it can be eaten raw. Ripe papaya has deep orange-yellow skin and orange-red flesh. A few green highlights on the skin are fine. The skin should be soft but firm to the touch. It should not be too hard or too squishy on gentle pressure.
Unripe or raw papaya should always be cooked before eating. This is especially true if one is pregnant as the unripe fruit is high in latex. Latex can stimulate contractions so it’s best for pregnant women to avoid eating raw papaya.
A paw-paw tip
It tastes fantastic when cold. Leave your plate of papaya in the fridge and let it cool. See that it is not too cold. Bring it out and enjoy it.
Apart from being an excellent source of vitamins A, B, C and E the fruit also contains vitamin K.
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