Papaya is a tropical fruit that has become popular worldwide over the years because of its vibrant color and sweet taste. It's a favorite among children and adults alike. This exotic fruit is more than just its beauty and taste though. It is also known for the host of health and beauty benefits it offers. From preventing asthma, cancer and reducing inflammation, to getting rid of tan, acne and wrinkles, it seems like papaya is a super-food that can cure almost anything. That said, it's not a miracle fruit that makes everyone invincible though. It has its share of side effects as well.
So, in this article, we'll take a balanced approach and look at both the benefits and side effects of papaya so you can make an informed decision.
Health Benefits of Papaya
It goes without saying that papaya is loaded with nutrients. It is rich in fiber, protein and potassium. It also has vitamins A and C. But what makes papaya unique is papain. This enzyme can break down even the toughest of proteins, so it aids in digesting red meats. This is one of the reasons why papaya is used to tenderize meat.
1. It is an Anti-Oxidant
Papaya is an anti-oxidant. It can neutralize the excess free radicals present in your body. Research has shown that the main cause of Alzheimer's disease is the excessive free radicals in the brain. Since fermented papaya has been known to rapidly reduce the free radicals in elderly people, studies are being conducted to see how this can be used to prevent Alzheimer's.
2. Has Anti-Cancer properties
Free radicals don't just cause Alzheimer's. Research has shown that they can cause cancer as well. The Lycopene present in Papaya can reduce the risk of cancer. It fights off the free radicals and stops cancer development as well as progression. Papaya is also the only fruit with anti-oxidant properties that have also shown promising anti-cancer properties, especially in breast cancer cells.
3. Other health benefits
If you want to keep your heart healthy, don't forget to eat a few slices of papaya every day. The anti-oxidants present in this fruit is known to prevent heart diseases. It's also rich in carotenoids, which reduces chronic inflammation. The papain present in papaya also helps in digestion.
Beauty Benefits of Papaya
- You can never go wrong with using papaya for your skin unless you are allergic to it, but we'll get to that later. It has moisturizing properties, so if you have dry skin, mash the fruit, mix it with honey, and apply the face pack on your face for a couple of minutes. When you wash it off, your skin will feel rejuvenated.
- It's also a magic cure for acne. Papaya is one of the fastest known cures for acne and acne scars. All you need is papaya juice and a cotton ball. Apply the juice on your acne and leave it on for about 15 minutes. Do this for a week or so to see effects.
- If you're looking for an anti-aging product, look no further. Nature offers us the best one there is. Rub the papaya peel on your face and leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse it off. Keep doing this, and you'll start seeing significant changes in a few weeks.
- Papaya is also the best tan remover there is. It instantly brightens your skin on application. It's also known to remove dark circles. If you're living in a tropical country, papaya should be your go-to beauty specialist. As you can see, if you regularly apply papaya juice on your face, you'll never have to visit a beauty parlor again.
Side Effects of Papaya
Though papaya is rich in nutrients and is known for its many benefits, it can cause certain side effects as well. It can even be toxic to pregnant women and people with certain health conditions. It's better to know the side effects so you know whether you stand to benefit from consuming this fruit or not.
1. Reduces blood sugar levels in diabetics
If you're diabetic, and you're on diabetes medication, you should avoid eating papaya. There is limited research on this subject, but some studies show that papaya could considerably reduce your blood sugar levels. This wouldn't be a problem for healthy people, but if you're diabetic, your blood sugar could reduce to dangerous levels. It's better not to take the risk.
2. Harmful for pregnant women and unborn fetuses
Pregnant women in tropical countries, where papaya originated from, have been historically asked to stay away from papaya during pregnancy. There hasn't been a clear reason why. It was just believed that eating the fruit during pregnancy is harmful to the mother and child. But thanks to recent medical advancements, we now know why. Papaya has been known to cause latex allergies in some people. If the pregnant mother is vulnerable to this allergy, she and her unborn child might be harmed.Research also shows that the papain in papaya, though beneficial in many instances, can actually be damaging to pregnant women and their fetuses. This enzyme suppresses progesterone, which prepares a woman's uterus for bearing a fetus. Papain might also be toxic to the fetus. Further research has shown that it can cause birth defects in the fetus as well. So overall, pregnant mothers are better off not eating papaya.
3. Might affect babies as well
Since there is a high chance that babies under the age of one might be affected by papaya, breastfeeding mothers should also avoid papaya. It goes without saying that you shouldn't be feeding babies papaya as well. Kids who've crossed their first year shouldn't have a problem ingesting the fruit though.
4. Other side effects
Apart from these major side effects, papaya has also been known to cause skin discoloration while applied to certain skin types. So, if applying its juice on your skin does not brighten it, stop using it immediately. Excess consumption of the fruit can also cause kidney stones, digestive problems and respiratory disorders.
Though Papaya is a delicacy with a host of great benefits to its name, you shouldn't eat an entire fruit in a sitting. A few pieces here and there should keep you healthy while keeping its side effects at bay. So, unless you are a pregnant woman, diabetic, or are allergic to the fruit, you have everything to gain by adding papaya to your diet.