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Natural food of the month - Papaya                                                      July 2010  




PapayaRecent media reports have been mentioning papaya as a new super fruit. This may or may not be the case, but one thing we do know is that papaya has very good levels of general nutritional values and health benefits that have been recognized for centuries. Even Christopher Columbus called it the food of angels, although that might have been more to do with its wonderfully unique flavor than the goodness it was doing to him and his fellow sailors.

Either way, papaya is definitely a worthwhile fruit to consider including in your diet and is now readily available at most supermarkets and food stores.

The fruit originates from central America although today the largest commercial producers of papaya are the United States as well as Mexico and Puerto Rico. The fruit is spherical or pear shaped and is usually around seven inches long. It is quite heavy, weighing about one pound.

Its deep orange colour is an early give away that papaya is full of vitamin A, but it also contains a range of essential B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and niacin plus vitamin C and E as well. It also has many excellent minerals including calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium.

But it is other qualities that have made it popular as a health addition to the diet. For instance, it contains papain, an enzyme that is very good for digestion and also can help reduce inflammation from injuries. In some countries, papaya seeds are ground and used like pepper for flavor and also as a remedy for upset stomachs, mucous and fever.

Many enthusiasts also claim that papaya is beneficial in the prevention of heart disease and the paraoxonase found in papaya helps to reduce cholesterol. Recent studies say they believe the beta-cryptoxanthin in papaya can offer protection against the fast progress of certain cancers and also can help protection against cataracts. Papaya has recently been hailed as a valuable addition in the help to fight macular degeneration.

More and more reports are coming out about papaya but it could be simply that because the fruit contains such a wide range of useful ingredients, it can be associated with benefits across a wide health spectrum as well.

Whether it is a super fruit or not, it certainly is packed with goodness and even better, it tastes fantastic; so that could be reason enough to think about including papaya every so often in your diet.

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