Papaya, The Tropical Fruit With Powerful Healing Properties? – Vigorous Herbs
The papaya has long been a permanent fixture on the local fruit shelves. The fruit, which weighs about one pound and is also known as “tree melon”, can be found there all year round.
Its juice, leaves, pulp, and even seeds are said to have numerous health effects. Papaya is said to help you lose weight, alleviate gastrointestinal complaints, strengthen the immune system, serve as a natural contraceptive, allegedly even cure cancer, and much more. Scientific studies should also prove these effects, which the Indians have been using for centuries.
Sounds so great at first glance that there has to be at least one catch to it. We went on a search and looked at the super fruit papaya from all sides.
Papaya tree, papaya bush, or something else?
The papaya, scientific name Carica papaya, belongs to the melon tree family. The 3 to 10-meter high papaya tree is not a real tree, but a very special type of plant. Although tree-like in appearance, the trunk is not lignified and is therefore not considered a tree or shrub in the botanical sense, but is classified as an herb. That alone makes the tree melon that grows in tropical and subtropical regions around the world something special.
The fruits of the papaya tree are therefore berries, which can be very different in size and weight depending on the variety. The Hawaiian papaya variety “Solo”, which is most commercially available in this country, weighs around 500 grams. Other varieties, for example in Mexico, reach a weight of 3 to 6 kilograms. The black kernels inside are the seeds of the papaya tree, which are edible and have a slightly peppery-spicy taste.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Calories from Papaya
Of course, papaya not only contains the enzymes but also many other valuable nutrients. The pulp, for example, is a real vitamin C bomb, just 100 grams almost cover the daily requirement of an adult. Vitamins A, E, B1 to B6, and folic acid are also found in the tree melon.
In terms of minerals, the fruit provides particularly potassium, calcium, and magnesium, but also manganese, iron, copper, and zinc. On the other hand, it is economical in terms of calories: only 32 kcal per 100 g make the tropical fruit very suitable for diets. The other nutritional values of papaya are also impressive, as it mainly contains water and fiber, some fructose, and no fat.
Eat a papaya right
As a healthy snack between meals, papaya can be eaten raw. To do this, halve the ripe fruit, recognizable by the yellow skin and the soft flesh. Then you remove the seeds and spoon the pulp straight out of the skin. Alternatively, you can peel the fruit, separate the pulp and seeds and mix them into the muesli or fruit salad.
The kernels are edible, but because of their pungent taste, they are usually dried and then used. You should always only eat the ripe tree melon raw, an unripe fruit tastes bitter and is hardly edible. The unripe tree melon contains a particularly large number of valuable enzymes.
Papaya Recipes: Smoothie, Salad, and More
There are many papaya recipes, the name “tree melon” already gives it away: A ripe papaya fits wherever a melon fits. The tropical fruit can be used to conjure up a quick starter with raw ham or a carpaccio as a vegetarian option. Fans of Thai cuisine will love the fruity and spicy papaya salad in all its variations – quickly prepared it brings variety to everyday kitchen life. Processed with bananas, oranges, and other fruits to make an exotic smoothie, the tree melon is the ideal vitamin C supplier for gray winter days.
Small kernels with a big effect
It is said that the kernel is the most effective ingredient in the tree. They are usually not eaten with fresh fruit, but as cleaned and dried grains. Because of their similarity to peppercorns and their slightly peppery note, papaya kernels were often used to stretch expensive pepper in the past. Today the seeds, which are not really cheap at around 30 euros per kilo, are chewed pure or ground over food, as in the countries of origin. The kernels act as a tenderizer, especially with meat, which is why concentrates from them are still used in industry today.
The papaya kernels are not only used in their regions of origin, but also in Europe for various “medicinal” purposes. The grains serve as a natural anti-helminthic (anti-worming agent) for humans or pets. In addition, the consumption of a tablespoon of kernels a day makes men temporarily unable to procreate after about three months – it is said. This makes the kernels a practical, natural contraceptive.
The kernels also help with gastrointestinal complaints, for example after a large meal. A tablespoon of it chewed aids digestion and thus relieves the stomach and intestines.
The secret of papaya: enzymes as an active ingredient
The papaya enzymes, especially papain, are responsible for the positive health effects of the fruit. In addition, the pulp and seeds contain chymopapain A and B, and the leaves also contain saponins, alkaloids, and glucosinolates. Papain is very similar to pepsin, one of the most important enzymes in the stomach. Papain is able to break down protein, which explains how it helps digestion and acts as a tenderizer for meat.
There are numerous studies and investigations on the medicinal effects of papaya enzymes, ranging from contraceptives to wound heal.
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