The humble papaya is gaining credibility in Western medicine for anticancer powers that folk cultures have recognized for generations.
University of Florida researcher and a professor of medicine Nam Dang, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues in Japan have documented papaya’s dramatic anticancer effect against a broad range of lab-grown tumors, including cancers of the cervix, breast, liver, lung and pancreas. The researchers used an extract made from dried papaya leaves, and the anticancer effects were stronger when cells received larger doses of the tea.
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Sweet and tasty papaya makes an excellent breakfast and is good in fruit salads. It can be blended with yogurt to make a delicious digestive smoothie. It also works well as an added ingredient in green salads. It tastes particularly good with lemon juice squeezed over it. The health benefits of papaya include heart disease and cancer prevention, cold and flu prevention and healthy digestions.
Papaya is an excellent source of vitamin C, with one medium papaya containing about 150% of the Daily value. It is also a good source of vitamin A, in beta-carotene form. It is also a good source of vitamin K, vitamin E and folate as well as the mineral potassium.
Papaya for Heart Disease Prevention
One of the health benefits of papaya is related to the fact that it contains high doses of three vitamins involved in heart disease prevention- vitamin A, vitamin E and beta-carotene. In addition, the high levels of folate found in papayas can help lower levels of the heart disease promoting amino acid homocysteine.
Papaya for Cold and Flu Prevention
Foods high in vitamin C, such as papaya, help boost the immune system. Vitamin C has been shown to help ward off symptoms of influenza A, the common cold and pneumonia. Vitamin A provides additional immune system support.
Papaya for Neural Tube Defect Prevention
Because papayas are rich in folate, they have applications in preventing neural tube defects. Eating folate-rich foods pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy can help the fetal spinal column to develop normally.
Papaya for Digestive Health
Papaya contains special digestive enzymes, called papain and chymopapain, which help digest proteins. Papaya is often used as a detoxification food and to give the digestive system a break, because it is so rich in its own digestive enzymes. Papaya also contains anti-oxidant vitamins C and E as well as folate, all of which can help prevent colon cancer.