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Grocery stores and markets sell sweet and buttery-smooth papayas throughout the year, but the best time to eat them is just around the corner! This tropical fruit tastes the sweetest during its peak season in the early summer, which is the perfect time to enjoy them as a delicious and colorful snack or as a flavorful addition to your favorite smoothies. Not only do papayas taste good, they’re good for you! Papayas are highly nutritious and can deliver plenty of health benefits.
Papayas are loaded with vitamins and minerals. They’re high in antioxidants and dietary fiber to help protect against heart disease and certain cancers. One study showed that regularly eating lycopene-rich fruits, like papayas, and drinking green tea may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. They’re also packed with carotenoids to support eye health and prevent macular degeneration. And because papayas are rich in vitamins A and C, they’re excellent for reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system. This fruit is also a good source of folic acid to support brain health, magnesium to increase energy, and potassium and vitamin K to promote a healthy heart.
Fresh papayas work wonders for your digestive system. They contain papain, a digestive enzyme that’s commonly used as the primary ingredient in meat tenderizers. Having papaya with a meal that contains meat helps prevent after-meal indigestion because the papain easily breaks down protein. On top of that, its combination of antioxidants, folate, and fiber has been shown to help reduce the risk of colon cancer, as well.
The papain found in papayas is useful for first aid, too! It’s applied on bites and stings, such as jellyfish stings, because papain digests the proteins in those toxins and renders them inactive. This helps prevent further damage caused by the venom and reduces the pain.
The one thing to be aware of before eating a papaya, however, is its chitinases content. Like avocadoes and bananas, papayas contain chitinases, which are associated with the latex-fruit allergy syndrome. Evidence shows cross-reaction between latex and these foods, so it’s best for people with latex allergies to be careful around papayas or avoid them altogether.
Overall, papayas offer plenty of positive health benefits and can easily be part of a healthy snack or meal. There are many ways to enjoy papayas – in salads, salsas, and smoothies or simply on their own! Their seeds are edible, too, but they have a bitter and spicy flavor. Try grinding them or chopping them up to use as a seasoning.
Papayas have a lot to offer, whether you have them in a NutriBlast smoothie or on their own. So go ahead and enjoy a papaya today!
Jeannene Davis graduated from The University of Texas Houston Health Science Center with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics and followed the degree with a Certification in Adult Weight Management and Diabetes Education. She provides in-house support to physician offices and large scale support to corporations and small businesses to ensure their employees have the most current information about nutrition and wellness.
She's worked in hospitals, outpatient radiation clinics, gene therapy centers, and even insurance companies, focusing on health and wellness, diabetes, and herb and supplement education, as well as renal nutrition support to pre-dialysis, dialysis, and renal transplant patients for a variety of companies since 1993.