Pawpaw, also called Carica Papaya is a tropical fruit said to have originated in Central America but now grows throughout the tropical world. The trees are cultivated in small and large farms but can grow widely. They grow quite tall and bear large spherical or pear shaped fruits. When ripe, the fruit is amber coloured and the surface could be slightly depressed with finger pressure. The inside is hallow with small seeds enclosed in the fleshy edible part which is light yellow in colour.
Pawpaw contains a lot of water and is rich in carbohydrates (mainly soluble fibre while low in sugar), vitamins A, C, E, B1(Thiamin), B2(Riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine) and Folates and Minerals such as Calcium, Iron and Potassium.
The health benefits listed below are due to these nutrients it contains. When consumed regularly Pawpaw can:
- Improve immunity
Pawpaw contains a lot of Vitamin C (more than oranges and lemon) which is required for the promotion of cell integrity in our body. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant which fights against free radicals that damage our cells. It is therefore said to increase our resistance to diseases.
- Promote the health of the heart
Pawpaw contains plenty of soluble fibre; high intake of soluble fibre reduces absorption of cholesterol and bile acid (which are also rich in cholesterol) from the small intestines, thereby reducing blood cholesterol level. When soluble fibres are broken down by bacteria in the intestines, some fatty acids released are said to reduce the production of cholesterol by the liver. By lowering blood cholesterol, fibres help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Pawpaw also contains potassium which helps to prevent irregular heart beat and to reduce risk of stroke.
- Decelerate aging
Pawpaw is high in important antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin A. These vitamins work to fend off cell damage from free radicals. Consequently, pawpaw may help to decelerate aging and age related diseases such as atherosclerosis and arthritis.
- Fight against cancer
Pawpaw as said earlier is rich in fibres; many studies in the last three decades have shown a link between increased fibre in-take and a decrease in colon cancer. This could be due to the fibre itself or the nutrients that are usually in fibre-rich foods such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and essential fatty acid. Daily consumption of pawpaw is highly recommended.
- Strengthen our bones
Pawpaw contains a lot of calcium; a mineral found mainly in the bones and teeth of our body. We must consume enough of them daily to ensure strong bones, proper growth and good teeth development. We will also avoid stiff joint and bone pain.
- Prevent constipationand Piles
Pawpaw as said earlier is rich in fibre which adds bulk to stool, making bowel movement easier. Insoluble fibre does this better. When plenty of fibre is consumed, the stool is large and soft, this stimulates the muscles of the intestines to contract, pushing out the stool (faeces) without the individual straining himself.
With little fibre in the food, the stool is usually small and hard and therefore requires force to come out. Regular straining during the passage of faeces can lead to piles (haemorrhoids) and other conditions such as pouches (diverticulosis) in the large intestines. Piles can lead to anaemia due to bleeding.
- Improve your eye health
Pawpaw contains a lot of vitamin A and b-carotene, both of them slow down the degeneration of certain parts of the eyes which could occur with age leading to a condition called Age-Related–Macula-Degeneration (ARMD).