Papaya – Health Benefits

Fitness experts recommend papayas for their slimming properties, but are they right? Fact is, the tropical fruit is low in calories with only 32 calories per 100 grams. In particular, its fruit pulp and pips contain the papain enzyme, which supports protein digestion and stimulates fat burning. But those aren’t their only advantages: 100 grams of papaya is enough to cover 150 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement. What’s more, papaya is rich in vitamin A and B, and contains lots of fibre, calcium, iron and phosphorous.

Food Facts Food Facts

Papaya

Class

carica

Calories

32 kcal per 100 g

Nutrients

11 g carbohydrates, 1.7 g fibre, 0.3 g fat, 0.5 g protein per 100 g

Season

available year-round

Storage

store at room temperature

Shelf life

three to four days

Papaya – Origin and Cultivation

The sweet papaya, known as pawpaw in the USA, originated in Mexico. As long has 500 years ago Indian tribes in south Mexico and Brazil cultivated the papaya. In the 16th century Spanish sailors brought the fruit to the Antilles and Philippines. Today it is grown worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions, from where it is exported across the globe. In Central Europe the papaya is still viewed as an exotic fruit, but in many places in Switzerland it is available year-round regardless.

Papaya grows on trees and needs a warm climate with plenty of sun. The tree bears fruit all year and has a life span of 15 years. As the papaya continues to ripen after harvest, it is picked when it’s still green and unripe. The fruit is ripe when it has begun to adopt a yellow colour and gives way to pressure easily. 

Papaya – Preparation Options

The papaya has lots of nutrients and tastes refreshingly sweet, so why not eat it regularly? The pulp can easily be removed from the peel using a spoon, simply cut the fruit into two halves, remove the pips with a spoon and perhaps sprinkle a little salt over the fruit. If you want an easy preparation option, peel it, discard the skin as it is not edible, and then dice the pulp.

Papaya can also be turned into delicious smoothies or juices. In yoghourt or quark papaya develops a bitter taste due to the protein-splitting enzyme papain, which makes it unsuitable for desserts or dairy products. However, in a fresh fruit salad the papaya shines or, provided you enjoy eating spicy food, a Thai papaya salad with peanuts and shrimp is a delicious alternative. This recipe requires green papaya with firm pulp.

The seeds of the papaya are valuable too and shouldn’t simply be thrown away as they contain most of the papain. Spoon the seeds out of the fruit and wash off any remaining fruit pulp. Subsequently dry them in the oven by roasting them at 50°C for two to three hours and store them in an air-tight container. The dried papaya seeds can be eaten as they are, or put in a mill and used as seasoning for their peppery flavour. 

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