Papayas are a unique and flavorful fruit that many people find to be delicious. They are also a fantastic addition to any diet because of their wide variety of health benefits.
Papayas include traditional fruit nutrients like folic acid, dietary fiber and vitamins C and A. However, what truly sets them apart is the papein, a chemical contained within them that has natural anti-inflammatory properties and can help to ease a lot of mild pains, particularly in the stomach. Another unique thing about papayas and a good reason to consider including them in your diet is that they have a high level of potassium, which is relatively hard to come by in natural foods and provides a host of potential health benefits.
Read on for some ideas on how to incorporate papayas into your diet.
Traditionally, most people eat papaya raw. The best part of the fruit to eat is the yellow-orange pulp inside of the outer casing. The casing can be peeled away easily with a knife, and the insides can then be scooped out with a spoon or a knife. This is not only the tastiest portion of the fruit, but also the part that features the best set of nutrients. Although the seeds are edible, many people find them to be bitter and choose to remove them from the pulp of the fruit by hand or with a spoon or knife. The outer peel of papayas is unpleasant and tough and should generally be avoided.
Raw papaya in salad is a great way to add fruity flavor to an otherwise bland salad. It contributes flavor without adding fat or sodium to the mix, as many salad dressings do. Cut up small portions of papaya flesh and mix them in with a salad for the added benefit of papaya flavor and the nutrient load as well.
Papayas can also be used in smoothies. Simply mix papaya with other frozen berries, banana and orange juice to create a sweet and healthy smoothie that provides a large number of servings of fruit in one easy go. To balance out the sugars of the smoothie, you can also include plain yogurt as the base instead of orange juice, as many people find that this blends very well with papaya and enhances the total nutritional profile of the smoothie by quite a bit.
Cooking with Papaya
Papaya is perhaps best used in baking, if you decide that you’d like to cook it. Mix it in with mango, peach and other related fruits and include the mixture as the filling for a pie or cobbler. The sweetness of the papaya will remain even after cooking, although you may lose some of the nutritional benefits through the process. Beware, however, that you don’t include a host of other unhealthy ingredients in your baking, as this can negate the benefit of using fruit in your cooking.