Fruit Feature: Papaya, the Miracle Worker of the Tropics

Papaya is the ultimate tropical fruit! Papaya flourishes throughout Central America, the Caribbean, Florida, and India. This widely available fruit grows year-around in the tropics. You will find papaya at every fruit stand and food market throughout Costa Rica, as well as being a common ingredient for smoothies and juices. While papaya is a tasty fruit, it is also one that possesses an incredible amount of vitamins and nutrients. This powerhouse fruit offers an impressive array of health benefits to anyone who regularly consumes it. 

Plus, find out how papaya leaves are used to treat a common mosquito-transmitted illness. 

Papaya plantation in Costa Rica

Papaya contains…

Zeaxanthin: an antioxidant that has been proven to help eyes filter blue light (light from your computer, phone, and television screens) and ward off macular degeneration. 

Beta-carotene: an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of cancer. 

Vitamin K: improves calcium absorption and reduces calcium elimination in the body. 

Papain: an enzyme that aids in digestion and helps reduce inflammation in the body. 

Chymopapain: an enzyme that reduces inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked to nearly every chronic disease. 

Potassium: reduces the risk of developing heart disease. A diet that is high in potassium and low in sodium is essential for heart health. 

Choline: a nutrient that supports sleep, memory, and muscle movement. It also supports the structure of cellular membranes. 

Vitamin A and C: promotes healthy skin and hair. 

Papaya is also chalked full of B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, and lycopene, an antioxidant that is also found in tomatoes. 

Nature’s medicine

Papaya fights dengue! 

Dengue is a mosquito-transmitted illness that affects millions of people every year throughout the tropics. There are several different strands of dengue, but some can lead to hospitalization and the need for a blood transfusion. One of the most dangerous aspects of this viral infection is that it causes your blood platelets to drop significantly, and in some severe cases this can lead to internal bleeding. 

Papaya leaf extract or juice has been proven to help prevent platelets from dropping to dangerously low levels and even prevent platelet destruction all together when infected with dengue. 

This natural treatment has also been known to help reduce the other symptoms that are associated with dengue, such as high fever, severe headache, and debilitating body aches.

While papaya is available in North America and other regions where it is not locally grown, make sure you enjoy some fresh papaya from the source the next time you are in Costa Rica.