Sweet and juicy with the tiniest hint of citrus or earthiness and a mouthfeel that is smooth and almost creamy; papayas are nice summertime treat.
For some reason, when I eat a papaya it me a little bit of the creamsicles that I used to love when I was a kid.
Papayas grow well in tropic and subtropic climates. They are native to Central America but have made their way to various places around the world.
From a culinary perspective, papayas are versatile and interesting to use in a variety of dishes both sweet and savory. The seeds are also edible and have a spicy, peppery flavor. Papayas contain papain making them a great option for naturally tenderizing meats or tougher vegetables. They can be pureed into a cream and used as a marinade or added to dishes to give a creamy texture. They are delicious as is, raw and yummy. I love to just scoop them right out of their skin and enjoy, eating a few seeds along with.
From a health perspective, papayas are a great source of nutrients. Very high in vitamin C, B, and A. Also a good source of potassium and magnesium, they help balance electrolyes and intracellular fluid retention. Research demonstrates they are beneficial for cardiovascular health and promote immune health. They are high in the digestive enzyme papain, which helps digestive processes and repair of the gastro-intestinal lining. It also has great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties making it a great resource for eliminating systemic inflammation. Studies show it is useful in decreasing the incidence of auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. It also contributes to tissue repair, research has been conducted on athletes, finding that they have a quicker recovery time when papain is included in their diet.
Papaya seeds have their own health qualities, being antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral. They are also antiparasitic and can help expel parasites and repair any damage to the intestinal tract.