Papaya health benefits include fighting inflammation, a good source of antioxidant, helps heal wound faster, delays the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, decreases the risk of heart disease, helps fight cancer, supporting digestive health, and protect against skin damage.
1. Anti-inflammatory Properties
Inflammation is a biological response to infection or injury. Prolonged inflammation can cause chronic health conditions.
Papain, the active compound in papaya, has been shown in test tube and animal studies to decrease inflammation in conditions including asthma, genitals, intestine, liver, and eye.
2. Antioxidant Properties
Plant based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, oils, and nuts contain antioxidants essential for health. Antioxidants reduce the risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Bioactive ingredients or additional food ingredients also provide benefits to health.
A test tube study found that a daily intake of papaya can strengthen the free radical scavenging potential and decrease oxidative stress.
Another study found that when Papaya was used in a fermented preparation for 2 weeks, it had a significant improvement in general health status of several organs targeted by oxidative stress in people with diabetes. This was revealed through C-reactive protein, LDL/HDL ratio and uric acid levels.
3. Wound Healing Properties
Wounds can get infected if not cared for properly. Papaya has traditionally been used to treat various skin disorders, including wounds. Papaya fruit was used in rats with diabetes and wounds. The study showed that wound healing increased when compared to the control group.
Although promising, studies in humans are needed before papaya can be recommended to treat wounds.
4. Delaying the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is a degenerative disease where brain matter is destroyed and causes memory and thinking issues. It is well-known that tissue is sensitive to oxidative stress. Increased production of reactive oxygen species, reduced antioxidant systems, and decreased efficiency in repairing mechanisms have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
A study found that papaya may be helpful at counteracting reactive oxygen species in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. This study shows promising signs in delaying the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.
5. Decreasing the Risk of Heart Disease
High levels of triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels are indicators of increased risk for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke. A study showed that papaya taken over 14 weeks improved inflammation and LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio.
These results show that papaya can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
6. Anti-cancer Properties
Cancer is the spread of abnormal cells throughout the body causing illness and death. Papaya extract has been seen to prevent or retard the spread of malignant cells in a test tube study.
Red fruits and vegetables, such as papaya, contain an antioxidant called lycopene. Many studies confirm that dietary supplementation with lycopene reduce the risk of developing cancers in many organs, but also retard the growth of the tumors.
Lycopene has also positive effects against other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, male infertility and inhibits the toxic action of other agents.
7. Reliefs Symptoms of Digestive Disorders
Digestive disorders can affect quality of life. Digestive disorders can include heartburn, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, stomach pain, and stomach cramps.
Papaya (Carica papaya L.) is used as a natural remedy in abnormal digestion in tropical and industrialized countries. In one study, participants with chronic indigestions and dysfunctions of the gastrointestinal tract were treated with papaya. It was found that papaya improved constipation and bloating symptoms and overall contributed to the maintenance of digestive tract.
8. Protects against Skin Damage
Reactive oxygen species present in the environment, such as the sun, smoking and pollution damage skin and cause premature aging.
Antioxidants contained in papaya play a role in maintaining the youthful appearance and texture of skin. A human trial found that in particular lycopene, vitamin C and vitamin E found in papaya, with the addition of soy isoflavones and fish oil, significantly reduce the depth of facial wrinkles.
Interestingly, this research study is the first one of its kind that looked at the effectiveness of an oral nutritional supplement on the skin.
Papaya is a nutritious fruit. It is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, folate and fiber. Papaya may be a novel, economically feasible intervention option for the management of general health and well-being with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Papaya may also be helpful in the areas of wound healing, Alzheimer’s Disease, heart disease, cancer and digestive disorders. As the science around papaya and its health benefits are in its infancy, more good quality human studies are needed before a science-based dietary recommendation can be made to treat certain health conditions.
In the meantime, enjoy papaya as you would any other fruit and reap the benefits related to its high nutrient and bioactive rich content.
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