The papaya is a fruit that is known by several names. To the Europeans and Australians, the fruit is known as pawpaw. In Brazil, it is called mamao, while Cubans refer to the papaya as fruita bomba. Portuguese explorer, Christopher Columbus, even had his own name for the papaya; he called it “the fruit of the angels.”
Once regarded as an exotic fruit that only grew in Mexico and Central America, the papaya is now cultivated in many parts of the world. Although it is yet to achieve the level of recognition that other tropical fruits like the banana and pineapple have, it is becoming increasingly popular these days not only for its delicious taste but also for its high nutritional value. Below are 8 other interesting facts that will make us more familiar with the papaya.
- The papaya plant, although mostly referred to as a tree, is actually a giant herb. It is fast-growing and can produce fruit within 6 to 12 months from planting.
- Aside from the edible fruit, other parts of the papaya plant have other uses as well. In some cultures, the seeds and leaves are valued as medicine. Papaya seeds are said to be effective in getting rid of intestinal parasites while a tea brewed from papaya leaves is known to prevent malaria. Likewise, the stems and bark of the papaya plant can be made into rope.
- Papaya is one of the most effective treatments for indigestion. It is the only fruit that contains papain, an enzyme that has the ability to digest protein. The papain content in a papaya is highest when it is unripe.
- Papain helps in treating trauma and sports injuries. When actor Harrison Ford was injured while filming one of his Indiana Jones movies, he was given papain injections to help him recover faster.
- The latex that seeps out from an unripe papaya can cause severe allergies to people with sensitive skin. The more unripe the papaya, the more latex it contains.
- A single serving of papaya can provide your body with the sufficient amount of Vitamin C needed for the day. Other nutrients found in papaya include Vitamin A, folic acid, magnesium, calcium and potassium.
- Despite its health benefits, it is still advisable to limit your consumption of papaya. Eating excessive amounts of the fruit can result in a temporary condition called carotenemia, which turns the palms of the hand and the soles of the feet yellow.
- The papaya has several culinary uses. Aside from eating it raw, you can combine it with other ingredients to make a healthy smoothie or a salsa. Green papaya is an effective meat tenderizer. The papaya seed, which resembles a peppercorn in taste and appearance, can be utilized as a substitute for pepper. In some parts of the world, the papaya fruit is a common component in stews and curries.