Christopher Columbus called papayas “fruit of the angels,” when he discovered them in the Americas. As shown in this 1887 illustration from Koehler’s Medicinal Plants on the right, papayas grow on trees, and, for that reason, they are sometimes called “tree melons.” They are a mild fruit and taste somewhat similar to a peach-pineapple combination.
The papaya is not just tasty, it also has fabulous health benefits. Researchers say the papaya possesses rejuvenating properties, which helps to control premature aging. In its unripened state, it is a wonderful aid to digestion because of its natural digestive enzymes, which supposedly restore vitality and health to those troubled by a variety of digestive problems, including irritable bowl syndrome (IBS). Papayas are high in fiber and an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, and carotene. The papaya also helps the body in these other ways:
- Aids in preventing prostate cancer
- Promotes eye health
- Promotes lung health
- Protects against heart disease
- Protects again rheumatoid arthritis
- Reduces the chance of colon cancer
- Reduces gastrointestinal gas, tonic effect on the stomach, and assists digestion
- Shows anti-inflammatory effects
- Supports the immune system
Beyond these benefits, papaya is probably one of the best foods to help protect against macular degeneration. According to a study in the Archive of Ophthalmology from June 2004, three or more servings of papaya a day lowers you risk of macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD) by a whopping 36 percent. Additionally, the study determined eating fruit in comparison to vegetables, definitely benefits in reducing the advance vision-losing form of neovascular or exudative ARD.