8 Health Benefits of Papaya

benefits of papayaThe papaya is native to Central America, but can now be found throughout the world, from the tropics to the supermarket shelves of the far northern and southern hemispheres. It has a soft, buttery texture, a sweet taste and an oddly musky smell. The black seeds of the papaya are edible and sometimes used as a substitute for pepper. Brazil is the number one producer of the fruit, followed by Nigeria and Mexico.

Here are eight health benefits of papaya.

Cardiovascular Benefits
Papayas are a great source of the antioxidants vitamin A, C and E. Such nutrients combat the free radicals that cause the oxidization of cholesterol, helping prevent the onset of atherosclerosis and heart disease. When cholesterol has been oxidized it begins to build up on artery walls and increases the risk of heart attacks. Papayas also contain folic acid, which is needed to turn homocysteine into harmless amino acids. High levels of homocysteine can damage blood vessels and lead to heart attack. Papayas are a good source of fiber, which is thought to regulate cholesterol levels.

Cancer Prevention
Papaya is loaded with antioxidant power and is especially good at reducing the risk of colon cancer. It contains lycopene, an antioxidant linked with defense against cancer of the lung, stomach and prostate. Papaya is also a good source of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and folate, nutrients associated with defense against colon cancer. The high fiber content of papaya lowers colon cancer risk, as fiber helps the digestive system function smoothly and regularly, removing toxins and keeping the colon healthy.

Digestive Health
Papaya is a highly effective food for the health of the colon. It contains vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and folate, all of which defend against colon cancer. The fiber in papaya helps the digestive tract keep moving efficiently for optimal health and to relieve constipation. This also lowers the risk of colon cancer, as toxins are regularly removed and cells replenished.

Skin Health
Papaya can also be good for the skin, whether applied topically, or ingested. Vitamins A and E help protect from harmful UV radiation, keeping skin younger looking and healthier. Vitamin C also helps to improve skin tone. Many skin care products contain extracts of papaya. This delicious fruit also offers some unique anti-inflammatory enzymes shown to help heal burned skin.

Respiratory Health
Papaya is rich in vitamin A, which studies have found is depleted by regular smoking. A recent study also found that a diet containing adequate vitamin A actually combats the effects of emphysema. Papaya is loaded with vitamin C, which is famous for fighting bacterial and viral infections of the respiratory system such as the common cold and flu. It also acts as an antihistamine, alleviating the stuffiness and aches associated with these infections.

Eye Health
The vitamin A found in papaya is needed to help the eye see during both the day and the night. Vitamin A helps synthesize a chemical called rhodopsin, which helps the eye see even the smallest amounts of light, thereby helping us see in low-light conditions and improving our night vision. On top of that, the lens of the eye needs vitamin C to ensure adequate blood flow, a de´Čüciency of which may cause cataracts. One study found that daily intake of fruit such as papaya helps prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.

Immune System
Papaya is loaded with vitamins, including vitamins A and C, the stars of the immune system. Vitamin C is famous for preventing and ameliorating the effects of bacterial and viral infections, including the common cold and flu. Vitamin A also has anti-viral capabilities and helps white blood cells function better. Additionally it is a necessary nutrient in the maintenance of the mucous membranes that are often the first line of defense against infection.

Papaya has been found to be very effective in the treatment of chronic inflammation. People suffering from conditions made worse by inflammation such as asthma or rheumatoid arthritis have found that the nutrients in papaya relieve their symptoms. Vitamins A and C and beta-carotene have proven anti-inflammatory properties and papaya also contains a couple of unique enzymes called papain and chymopapain, which have been shown to lower inflammation and help heal burned skin.

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