- Promotes Proper Digestion
Certain papaya enzyme compounds can help the body break down and use proteins properly. Papain, in particular, helps break apart the bonds between amino acids.
It is similar to other types of enzymes made in the pancreas that help our bodies digest meat, but unlike other enzymes, it can work even without the presence of acid. Therefore, due to is ability to break apart amino acids, this papaya enzyme can be helpful for people struggling with low stomach acid who may not be able to tolerate consuming certain types meat.
It also can promote protein absorption in those with other digestive issues.
Eating papaya can also help prevent constipation due to its high fiber content. Fiber adds bulk to the stool and eases its excretion out of the body.
In fact, a 2012 review published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that increasing fiber intake was effective at increasing stool frequency in people with constipation to help promote regularity.
- Soothes Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural immune response designed to fend off foreign invaders and protect against illness and infection. However, chronic inflammation is at the root of most diseases, and it is believed to contribute to serious conditions like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more.
A 2011 study published in the journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that inflammatory markers decreased when test subjects were given papaya. Researchers found it may help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms for people with certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It is noted, however, that further research is needed.
Papain has also been shown to help decrease inflammation in people with diseases such as asthma or arthritis. Not only can lower levels of inflammation slow the progression of chronic disease, but they may also help to naturally reverse signs of aging as well.
- Strengthens the Blood
Papaya has garnered a good amount of attention as a blood strengthener to help people who have a medical condition called thrombocytopenia, or low blood platelets. This is a dangerous medical condition that can reduce the body’s ability to form blood clots and potentially lead to internal bleeding.
An animal study out of Malaysia conducted on mice concludes that those given papaya leaf extract had significantly higher platelet and red blood cell counts after 72 hours compared to those in a control group. Although additional information is still needed, researchers believe that papaya extract may eventually be used as a treatment for people with blood disorders and impaired blood clotting.
- Enhances Heart Health
Papayas are loaded with vitamin C, which is an important micronutrient that acts as an antioxidant to protect against free radical damage. It also protects against the oxidation of cholesterol, reducing the ability of cholesterol to form plaque along the artery walls.
Some research has found that a deficiency in vitamin C may be linked to a greater risk of death from heart disease, although additional information is needed to determine the exact mechanism. Papaya also contains folate, which can help convert homocysteine, a type of amino acid that has been linked to heart disease, into other amino acids to reduce the risk of heart problems.
- Can Help Prevent Macular Degeneration
Each serving of papaya packs in a hearty dose of beta-carotene, one of the primary nutrients involved in preserving vision and protecting eye health.
It also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two flavonoids that can help prevent macular degeneration, or age-related loss of vision. Zeaxanthin specifically helps filter out blue light that can be harmful to the retina to optimize vision even as you get older.
- Helps Prevent Asthma
In addition to keeping vision healthy, beta-carotene has been shown to help reduce the risk of asthma. Maintaining adequate levels of vitamin, A in the diet may be especially crucial for children to help reduce airway inflammation.
Papaya seeds also have their own nutritional benefits. They can be eaten as well, although they are quite bitter.
The seeds have been used as a folk medicine to treat parasitic infections, E. coli and other viral and bacterial infections.
- Slows Signs of Aging
Due to the high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A and other flavonoids, papayas are a great fruit to help keep the skin healthy and wrinkle-free. Research shows that these nutrients work as antioxidants that help prevent free radical formation and oxidative damage to the skin, both of which are considered some of the leading causes of aging.
- Fights Viral Infections
Papaya leaves have been used treat dengue fever, a deadly viral infection from mosquitos in tropical areas. In one particular study, the leaves were mixed with water and given to patients twice a day. The treatment was found to significantly decrease viral activity after five days.
Traditional Polynesian cultures in Hawaii and Tahiti made poultices out of papaya skin to help with wound healing. Why? The skin is particularly high in papain.
They would apply the poultice directly to the skin to treat burns, rashes or bug bites.
Papain also can be used to treat fungal and viral infections of the skin, such as warts and ringworm. It helps destroy the layer of protein that protects viruses and fungi against attack, decreasing their ability to reproduce and spread.