You might think this tropical fruit is rare or exotic. But papayas are widely available across the U.S. And that’s very good news. Ancient healers used papaya to treat everything from upset stomach to burns.1 With good reason.
Here are five reasons to start eating more papaya.
1. It Preserves Eyesight: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people over 50 years old. Your macula is the part of your eye that allows you to focus on fine details. This includes the faces of your friends and family. And if you’re eating papaya, you’re helping to protect your eyes.
Papaya is rich in zeaxanthin. It’s a potent carotenoid that may slow—and even prevent—the development of AMD.2 You’ll even find it in your macula and retina. Your eyes need it to help maintain clarity and focus.
2. It Aids Digestion: Papayas are about 60% soluble and 40% insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps make you feel fuller after eating. Insoluble fiber passes through your digestive system like a sponge. It soaks up foods that you don’t fully or properly digest. And it helps pass them with ease.
Papayas are also rich in papain. It’s an enzyme that can tenderize meat. It can help you digest tough proteins by breaking down larger proteins into smaller ones.3 It’s even strong enough to aid in an intestinal cleanse.4 This “tenderizing” effect may allow the fiber in papaya to be more effective.
3. It Fights Heart Disease: Eating a diet high in fiber might help you prevent heart disease. One study found you can decrease your risk for heart disease by about 9% for every seven grams of fiber you eat each day.5
The antioxidants in papaya also help lower inflammation. A single papaya can give you more than 150 mg of vitamin C alone.6
4. It Protects Your Bones: Papayas are high in vitamin K7 which helps drive calcium directly into your bones. Papayas also contain calcium. So you’re getting these two critical nutrients for keeping solid bones in each bite. But eating papaya may do more for your bones than make them stronger.
The antioxidants in papaya can reduce oxidative damage in your bone marrow.8 This may help prevent cancer in your blood and bone marrow. But if you already suffer from a blood or bone marrow cancer, papaya can help you produce blood cells correctly.
5. It Supports Healthy Skin: Papaya is the star ingredient in many natural beauty treatments. Things like facemasks, foot creams, and even hair softeners.
Papayas are rich in vitamin E and beta carotene. They both help fight free radicals and prevent cell damage. But vitamin E also supports collagen production. Collagen is what keeps your skin firm and supple. Beta carotene may smooth away wrinkles by protecting against—and even helping reverse—skin damage from the sun. Eating papaya alone will help with this. But using a papaya-based facemask is a great way to directly expose your skin to these healing compounds.
Making papaya a regular addition to your diet is an easy way to help prevent oxidative stress. Eating it can help you look younger—maybe even live longer. If you can’t find organic papaya at your local health food store, you can buy papaya enzyme supplements online.
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