Although the origin of Papaya (Carica papaya) is unknown, it is thought to be native to Southern Mexico and nearby Central American Countries. With its deliciously sweet and soft flesh it’s no wonder that Christopher Columbus called it the “fruit of angels”! Today it is commercially produced in several tropical and sub-tropical countries including India, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, Indonesia, The Philippines, The Caribbean Islands, Malaysia and South Africa. Together with bananas, pineapples and mangoes, papaya is one of the most popular tropical fruits.
Many published studies have demonstrated that fruit and vegetables contribute to the reduction of several diseases including cardiovascular, neurological and carcinogenic illnesses. This is partially due to the amount of antioxidant compounds present in fruit and vegetables which reduce the oxidative stress produced by free radicals, and in consequence, cellular damage.
Much can be said about the wonderful benefits of papaya and according to literature papaya fruit is a rich source of antioxidant nutrients, B vitamins, vitamin A, minerals (Potassium and Magnesium), folate and fibre. Antioxidants in papaya pulp include Carotenoids (lycopene, β-cryptoxanthin and β-carotene), Vitamin C and Flavonoids. Vitamin C and vitamin A are both needed for proper function of a healthy immune system so papaya is therefore a great choice for preventing illnesses such as colds and flu. The fibre, together with the digestive enzyme papain, makes for improved digestion.
The combined nutrients promote the health of the cardiovascular system and may prevent colon cancer. Papain is used as an industrial ingredient in brewing, meat tenderizing, beauty products, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
how to enjoy your papaya
An easy and convenient way to eat your papaya is to cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and eat it with a spoon. You don’t even need a plate! For extra flavour, squeeze a little lemon or lime juice. The perfect snack! Alternatively, cut you papaya into small pieces after peeling it and add it to salads or a fruit salad. Add it to yogurt and other fruit to make the perfect smoothie. Few people realize that papaya seeds are actually edible. They can either be chewed as is, or maybe more ideally blended and added to a salad dressing for a wonderful peppery flavour!
Makes 4 servings
1 cup ripe Papino, diced
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1 cup fresh Granny Smith Apple, diced
3 tbsp chopped red onion
1 chilli pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp lime or lemon zest
2 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
1 tbsp minced coriander
Salt and pepper
Combine all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
tropical fruit salad
Makes 6 servings
1 Papino, peeled, quartered, and seeded
1 mango, diced, 2 kiwifruit, peeled and diced, 2 bananas, sliced
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice
3 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Combine the fruit in salad bowl. Mix together the lime/lemon juice with the honey and the chopped mint. Drizzle over the fresh fruit.
papaya and pineapple smoothie
Makes 2 servings
2 cups of pineapple juice
2 cups of Papino
2 tbsp of honey
1 tbsp of lemon juice
3 tbsp All natural yogurt
Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Cover and blend on high until smooth.