4 Reasons Why You Should Eat Papaya AND Its Seeds

June 16, 2020

By Anna Varriano

Papaya is a delicious sweet and juicy tropical fruit with a lovely soft texture when it is ripe. I’ve heard people describe its taste as a cross between a mango and a cantaloupe. Being delicious is a great reason to add papayas to your grocery list. but the 4 reasons I’m presenting in this blog are related to the fact that papayas are loaded with health-boosting antioxidants, flavonoids, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and fibre. I’ll also show you how to collect and use papaya seeds to spice up your meals and why you should!

1 – Papaya Supports Digestive Health

Papaya contains papain – an enzyme that helps digest proteins. This enzyme is so effective, that it is extracted from papaya to make digestive enzyme supplements. Note that the enzyme is especially concentrated in unripe papayas – often referred to as ‘green papaya’ – which is often used as a base for salads, primarily in Thai cuisine (every had som tam?). Is it possible this traditional Thai salad is served to help with the digestion of proteins in the meal? Hmmmm! If any of you have had consults with me regarding digestive issues and/or have attended my workshops/Lunch & Learns on the topic of digestive health, you may recall that I mention papaya as one way to support digestion.

2 – Papaya Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease

Papayas are an excellent source of vitamin C, carotenoids, folate, and fibre – all of which have been shown to promote cardiovascular health by promoting healthy cholesterol metabolism and/or strengthening, and preventing inflammation of, blood vessel walls.

3 – Papaya Protects Against Cancer

The nutrients in papaya have been shown to be helpful in the prevention of cancer, in particular colon cancer and prostate cancer. Papaya contains folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E – all of which have been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. Papaya also contains lycopene – a substance that has been shown to reduce the risk of colon and prostate cancers. Note that other lycopene-rich foods include tomatoes and watermelon.

4 – Papaya Fights Inflammation

Papain has been shown to reduce inflammation, which is the root cause of virtually every health issue in the body. A few common examples of inflammatory diseases are arthritis, cardiovascular disease, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, macular degeneration, and asthma.

Keep Those Papaya Seeds!

Many of papaya’s health-boosting benefits are also provided by the fruit’s many seeds. Interstingly, in those areas of the world where papaya is a local and abundantly available fruit, the seeds are commonly used to fight intestinal infections, especially parasitic infections.

Fresh papaya seeds are somewhat gelatinous and quite bitter, although they can be eaten in small amounts, with the most common recommendation being no more than a tablespoon/day added to a smoothie or stew for example. Dried papaya seeds can be used similar to how whole or ground peppercorns are used and impart an interesting flavour that is a combination between black pepper and horseradish. Here is how I dry out the seeds.

Step 1 – Scoop

Cut a ripe papaya in half and scoop out all the seeds using a spoon or an ice cream scoop (enjoy the fruit now or later!).

2 – Clean & Separate

Put the seeds in a bowl and fill it with water. Using your fingers, swish the seeds around so that any attached pulp separates from them and floats to the top. As the pulp floats to the top, scoop it out with your hands or a slotted spoon.

3 – Drain & Rinse

Pour the seeds left in the bowl into a colander and rinse well to remove remaining small bits of pulp. Shake the colander to remove excess water from the seeds.

4 – Spread & Dry

Line a tray or any other flat surface with parchment or wax paper and spread the seeds out evenly in a single layer, separating them as much as possible. Depending on where you dry them out (inside on your kitchen counter, outside in the sun, in a food dehydrator, in a very very low oven that is no more than 130C) it could take several hours or several days to completely dry them out. Roll them around a few times during the drying process. You want them to be completely dry – they should look and feel like black pepper corns.

Step 4 – Store & Enjoy

Put the dried papaya seeds into your pepper grinder or store them in a glass jar and use them as you would pepper corns.

Since the seeds also contain papain, using whole or ground papaya seeds in a meat marinade will help to tenderize the meat in addition to adding a mild ground pepper & horseradish flavour – which would be yummy for cuts of red meat. 



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