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Papaya
 

Papaya is a Tropical fruit, with a soft musky taste and a butter like consistency. It is the fruit of the plant Carica papaya, in the genus Carica. It is native to the tropics of the Americas, and was cultivated in Mexico several centuries before the emergence of the Meso-American classic cultures. It is often referred to as the tree melon or the pawpaw. It was called the "fruit of the angels" by Christopher Columbus.

A Papaya tree is a large tree, with a single stem. It grows to about 5 to 10 meters tall, and has spirally arranged leaves mainly confined to the top of the trunk. The leaves are large, ranging from 50-70 cm in diameter. They have deeply palmately lobes having an average of 7 lobes. The tree is generally

unbranched if unlopped. The tree bears flowers, which are in the shape of the flowers of plumeria, but are comparatively smaller in size and are wax like. The raw papaya fruit id green in colour and attains a yellow-orange hue, when it ripens. The fruit becomes tender as it ripens.
 

 

Nutritional Value
Papayas are a rich sources of plethora of vitamins and minerals and essential elements, which are beneficial for the human body.


Nutritive Values-Per 100 gm

  • Vitamin A: 1,750 I.U
  • Vitamin C: 56 mg.
  • Calcium: 20 mg.
  • Phosphorus: 16 mg.
  • Potassium: 470 mg.
  • Carbohydrates: 10 gm
  • Calories: 39
  • Plenty of Vitamin E and K.
 

Propagation of the Papaya Tree
Papaya is grown from seeds. The papaya seeds can be dried and stored for more than a year in airtight refrigerated containers. The fresh seeds of the fruit germinate within 10-14 days. The germination time can be further reduced by removing the gelatinous outer seed coat (sarcotesta) before drying.

Papayas grow well in many types of soil, but they must be adequately drained. If the soil drainage is not adequate, it may lead to a number of root diseases. Heavy clay and pahoehoe lava soils should be avoided. Soil pH near neutral (pH 6.0 to 7.0) is preferred.

A papaya tree bears fruit all year round. The papaya plants continue to bear fruits for many years, but with age the yield also falls and the picking becomes difficult.In commercial plantations, the fields are replanted after three years.

 

Uses of Papaya
Papaya is a multi faceted fruit, which can be put to a wide array of uses, some of them may be listed as follows:

  • The fruit, when ripe, can be consumed raw. It may be cut into slices and then scooped with the help of a spoon. A dash of lemon/lime on the fruit enhances its flavour further
  • A papaya can also be an integral part of a salad, and may be combined with any other fruit
  • Mostly, people discard the black seeds of the fruit, which are actually edible and have a pleasant pepper flavour. They can be ground and used instead of pepper as a healthy option
  • The seeds can also be blended into a creamy salad dressing, thus giving it a pepper like flavour
  • Mix diced papaya, jalapeno peppers and ginger make a unique salsa that goes well with shrimps, scallops and other seafood
  • For an excellent cold soup treat blend papaya, strawberries and yogurt together. it results in a lip-smacking treat for one and all
  • Ripe papayas are often used for making the meat tender. The papain present in the fruit helps break the proteins in the meat, thus making it tender
  • Papaya like most of the fruits makes for an effective skin rejuvenating tonic. Papaya paste is often used by women to bring a radiant glow to their faces. If used regularly, the fruit works magic for the skin, makes it more soft and supple and improves the complexion to a great extent.
 

Caution---Papaya May Cause Allergy
Much like avocados and bananas, papayas also contain substances called the chitinases, which cause the latex fruit allergy. It is often seen that a person suffering from latex allergy is often allergic to these fruits as well. If grown organically, i.e. not treated with gas, the fruit has fewer allergy causing compounds. The cooking of these fruits deactivates these enzymes, thus making them safe for consumption.

How to Choose a Papaya?
A healthy fruit, papayas are consumed in large quantities all over the world. As they are highly perishable, care should be taken while selecting the fruit. It is advisable to go for the one that is fairly large, and is more than half yellow. It should yield under palm pressure, but at the same time should not be too tender. Also avoid the ones with scars and blemishes.

If the papaya is not yellow, it may be kept at room temperature for a few days so that it may ripen. Unripe papayas should not be refrigerated, as refrigeration brings the ripening process to a halt. The ripe ones, however may be refrigerated, but should be consumed at the earliest.

Health Benefits of Papayas
Papaya is not only a tasty fruit, but is also a rich source of a number of anti-oxidants such as flaunts, carotenes, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Folate, fiber, potassium, magnesium, etc. All these nutrients promote the health of the cardiovascular system and provide a shield against a number of chronic diseases. Papaya also contains large units of papain, a digestive enzyme. This enzyme is often extracted from the fruit to make anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic, and analgesic medicines.

Some of the health benefits associated with eating the fruit include:

  • Papain, present in the fruit aids in the digestion process
  • If consumed regularly over a period of time, papaya can cure a longstanding problem of constipation
  • Researchers believe that if the fruit is taken alone for a span of 3 days, it has beneficial tonic effect for the stomach and the intestines
  • The juice of papaya is believed to cure colon infections and in breaking down pus and mucus
  • The fruit may also prove beneficial in preventing cancer in organs and glands with epithelial tissue (ripe papaya)
  • Prevents nausea; includes morning sickness and motion sickness
  • The seeds of the fruit have antihelmintic properties for expelling worms, and are often given with honey. Two teaspoons of papaya seeds if chewed and swallowed after each meal have a wonderful effect on the stomach.
  • Papaya contains ample amounts of Vitamin C and Vitamin A, which are essential for the proper function of a healthy immune system
  • Various studies have shown that regular consumption of the fruit provides protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Eating papaya everyday also promotes lung health and is an ideal fruit for smokers.