Papaya, a fruit native to tropical America, is unrivalled by any other fruit except the mango for in its beta-carotene content, says Ishi Khosla, a clinical nutritionist. Beta – Carotene is a special vitamin that gives papaya its orange colour & has powerful antioxidant properties. It helps to prevent damage by free radicals which might otherwise lead to some forms of cancer, heart disease, cataract & premature ageing.
Eating papaya can also help prevent blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency, which is the commonest cause of blindness in India. However eaten in excess, it can cause yellowing of palms & skin called carotenemia. Raw papaya contains no beta – carotene. Half a medium-sized fruit will provide an adult daily requirement of vitamin C as well as supply small amounts of Calcium & Iron. Raw papaya contains large amounts of vitamin C.
It is known to have laxative properties owing to its mucilaginous fibre. Contrary to popular belief pregnant women need not avoid papaya for the fear of miscarriages. Rather, it is a unique, wholesome & easily digestible fruit. In addition, papaya is an excellent choice for those suffering from digestive ailments, dyspeptic patients & convalescing individuals. Being low in calories, high in fibre & water content as well as high on nutrition, it makes a wonderful fruit for weight watchers.
Raw papaya is a rich source of papain which is plant pepsin ( an enzyme produced in animals to digest protein ). Papain is capable of digesting protein in acid, alkaline or neutral medium while animal pepsin requires an acidic medium. Because of this property, raw papaya is used to tenderize meats & pubes is widely used by the food industry as a tenderizer. Patients with celiac disease, who cannot digest wheat protein (gluten) can tolerate it if is treated with papain.
Papain also exhibits pain-relieving properties, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved its medical use in spinal injections to ease the discomfort of slipped discs. Juice of green / raw papaya is also used externally to improve complexion & treat skin blemishes.
Scientists have found that the black seeds of papaya contain, in traces, a toxic substance called carbine. Carpine in large quantities is said to lower the pulses rate and depress the nervous system. The substance is found only in papaya seeds and that too in very small quantities. Fortunately, the fleshy part of the fruit is completely free from this toxic substance.
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Some varieties remain green when ripe, but most turn deep yellow or orange. When buying, choose uniformly yellow fruit with a delicate scent. Papaya is excellent fresh, in fruit salads, on pavlovas, or served with ice cream. Papaya is also wonderful finely chopped and served with chopped fresh chillies in a salsa.
Papaya And Beetroot Salad With Honey Mustard Dressing
Ripe Papaya chopped into small cubes – 2 cups
Beet Root, boiled & cubed – 1 cup
Lettuce for garnishing.
Natural vinegar – ½ cup
Honey – ¼ cup
Olive oil – ¼ cup
Mustard – ½ tsp.
Salt – 1 tsp (to taste)
Combine ingredients for dressing & whisk well with a fork or shake in the closed bottle till well blended. In a bowl add the papaya & beetroot. Pour overdressing. Toss gently serve on a flat dish with fresh green lettuce leaves.
Green papaya salad – Thai style
Raw papayas peeled & sliced – 2 medium
Tomatoes deseeded & sliced – 1 medium
Lemon juice – 4 tablespoons
Vegetable oil – 1 tablespoon
Garlic cloves – 3 crushed
Onions finely sliced – 2
Sugar (powdered) – 1 tablespoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon
White pepper – ½ teaspoon
Peanuts roasted: crushed – 4 tablespoons
Green Chillies finely sliced (optional) – 1 teaspoon
Chilli flakes – 1 teaspoon
Lettuce leaves to serve – 6
- Set aside papaya, tomato slices & onions.
- Combine the rest of the ingredients except lettuce leaves.
- Add to papaya mixture. Toss gently.
- Serve on a bed of lettuce & garnish with chilli flakes