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It is mango's younger sister and the cousin of avocado. Can you believe we are talking about papaya? That's right. This juicy tropical fruit is full of surprises. Have you tried it yet?
You may have seen it at the supermarket but been hesitant to buy it. How do you eat papaya? Or perhaps you are a papaya lover wondering about the fruit's health benefits. Well, there are many reasons to fall in love with papaya. Let's take a look:
ALL ABOUT PAPAYA
Papayas grow on small height trees native to Central America (in Mexico it was called Chichihualtzapotl, sweet fruit of "nannies," because it was linked to fertility). Nowadays, papaya is wide spread throughout the tropics, from the Caribbean to the Philippines, where it is especially popular. The fruits are oblong, ranging in color from green to yellow to orange to pink, and though they can weigh up to 19 lbs (9 kg), you'll commonly find much smaller papayas at the market weighing anywhere from 1 to 2 lbs. (500-600g).
WHY YOU SHOULD EAT PAPAYA
Unripe papaya is rich in an enzyme called papain, which promotes the digestion of proteins and therefore makes it perfect for people suffering from gastritis or digestive problems (it is advisable to eat before meals to introduce the necessary enzymes right away). But it's not the only benefit that should prompt us to eat papaya.
This fruit is a veritable treasure trove of vitamins, especially A and C, and it also contains fiber, antioxidants and loads of potassium. What's the effect of all these nutrients in the body? Among other things, papaya helps drain excess fluids and toxins, is anti-inflammatory, helps purify the skin and, thanks to its high content of vitamin A, is a natural protection against eye diseases. Its natural sugars and minerals provide a nice boost of energy, especially in times of stress.
HOW TO CUT PAPAYA
For starters, papaya must be peeled and cut in half. The gorgeous black seeds should be scooped out with a spoon. At this point, ripe papaya may be sliced or chopped and consumed as is. Unripe papaya is often thinly sliced and tossed into salad or sprinkled with lime juice, salt or spices, depending on where you live.
Here's a quick video explaining how to cut and prepare papaya:
HOW TO EAT PAPAYA: RECIPES
You can always toss papaya into a fruit salad but if that's too simple for you try freezing chunks and using them to whip up drinks like this peach and papaya smoothie.
Papaya, like pineapple, is also nice for baking. It would make a nice filing for pie, tarts or cakes. Its good to note that the fruit's natural sweetness will help you cut down on the amount of sugar required for the recipe.
A wonderful way to enjoy papaya is to consume it in a salad. In Thailand, green papaya salad is very popular: the unripe fruit is thinly sliced and tossed with peanuts, chilies, lime, tomatoes and fish sauce.
Another fun idea would be to make a spicy papaya sauce, which can easily be prepared by pureeing papaya and a small amount of chili peppers in a blender then poured over fish, chicken or meat.