The papaya plant is a bushy tree with large palmate leaves and elongated green fruits. When ripe, the fruit’s skin turns into yellow and once peeled, it has a sweet and juicy flesh similar to melons and gel-like seeds which are often scooped out with a spoon, although they are actually edible.
Papaya Against Cancer
In a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, results revealed that papaya leaf extract has a promising effect against various cancers such as cervix, breast, liver, pancreas, and lung cancer. Aside from this, papaya was shown to promote the production of Th1-type cytokines, which is beneficial in regulating the immune system in order for it to be able to combat cancers.
For the study, University of Florida researcher Nam Dang, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues in Japan exposed 10 different types of cancer cell cultures to four strengths of papaya leaf extract and after 24 hours they have found that papaya slowed the growth of tumors in all the cultures and even induce cell death.
In addition to this, the team discovered that the extract did not have any toxic effects on normal cells as compared to that of the many cancer therapy regimen.
Dang, a professor of medicine and medical director of the UF Shand’s Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office, commented that:
“Based on what I have seen and heard in a clinical setting, nobody who takes this extract experiences demonstrable toxicity; it seems like you could take it for a long time — as long as it is effective.”
Due to these effects, the researchers concluded that papaya extract can be a possible treatment in an immune-related condition such as auto-immune diseases, inflammation, and some cancers.
Unripe papaya contains high amounts of protein-digesting enzymes, papain, and chymopapain, that can be found isolated in enzyme supplements. For those patients undergoing chemotherapy and who have higher protein requirements, but are suffering from digestive challenges from drug-induced side effects, these important components can be helpful. Aside from this, papaya also has carpaine which is a cancer-fighting compound.
Moreover, B vitamins and minerals calcium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium are also present in it in addition to its array of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E as well as flavonoids and beta-carotene.
Different Ways To Incorporate Papaya Into Our Diet
- In home-made salsa mixed with green onion, cilantro, and berries.
- Cut into cubes in fruit or spinach salads.
- As a single fruit dish sprinkled with lemon or lime juice.
- Finely sliced as a topping for freshly grilled fish, sprinkled with coconut flakes.
- In a sweet and sour chicken casserole dish.
- In a smoothie.
- In a home-made ice cream sorbet.
- Anywhere you would also consider using pineapple.