Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Papaya: A Fruit with Benefits

Last week as my daughter and I were exploring the produce section, we came across a strange looking creature that was labelled "papaya fruit." I picked it up and asked my daughter if we should try it; she scrunched up her face and said "no" and headed for the blackberries. But I was curious, so I put it in my cart anyway.

Not the prettiest thing I've ever eaten; it's easy to see why she wasn't impressed.

papaya fruit benefits

However, papayas are rich in many nutrients so I figured it was worth trying. According to WHF, one medium papaya gives you 224% RDA of vitamin C, 87% RDA of vitamin A, 25% RDA of folate, and is a significant source of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants, all for only 119 calories. These nutrients are beneficial to the cardiovascular system and provide protection against colon cancer. Papaya also contains the enzymes papain and chymopapain, which reduce inflammation.

So, we cut the papaya in half and got this:

papaya seeds are edible

I read that the seeds are edible and taste peppery. Errr, they did not look so appetizing with the slime all over them. They kind of reminded me of frog eggs in a stream. But being adventurous, I tried one. And spit it out. No. Just, no.

Then we scooped the seeds out of one half and cut the fruit into pieces.

papaya fruit health benefits

It was beautiful and golden, but it did not have much of a smell. The texture was very much like a ripe cantaloupe. And the taste was mild and bland and slightly sweet, also reminiscent of an (overly) ripe, mealy cantaloupe. Honestly, it was a letdown. Apparently if you go to Hawaii, you will get fresh papaya and swoon over it and want to eat it every day forever. But this one, whether because of the type or the level of ripeness, was not tasty at all. It wasn't *bad*, just didn't have much flavor and lacked a distinctive taste.

Since none of us liked it, it went back into the fridge. After further research, I found a suggestion to mash it up and use it to exfoliate your skin. You wash your face with it, basically, rubbing it on and leaving it on for up to 5 minutes and then rinsing it off with cool water. I think I will give that a try.

If you've had a better experience with papaya, please leave me a comment and let me know your secret!

18 comments:

Melissa Villalobos said...

It's one of my very favorite fruits! But honestly? I haven't had a good one since living in Thailand. I like papaya salads at various Thai restaurants in the US. But these are made with underripe papayas which is what I think you have. While no expert, I'm pretty sure the skin's supposed to be bright, deep orange, not yellow. It was in Thailand. But I suppose that could just be another variety. Maybe give it another try if you see it cubed/in pieces/someone who knows something about it can help you pick one?

Unknown said...

No, yellow is a fine colour for it to be - it's a different type from the red ones. We grow papaya (paw paw) here in Australia & a lot of people love them. Personally? No. Ew. Gross. But yeah, they're definitely not meant to be bland - perhaps that one was just not in season or from a good growing area.

karuna demla said...

I love papaya.The only brand we like is star royal and we get it from Kroger.Papaya shouldn't be green and it should be soft to touch.That's how you know it's ripe.If you go to whole foods they sometimes have cut papaya in a container.Try those and see how you like it

Sara said...

I am also only used to the orange-fleshed variety, and it is SO tasty. Sorry you had a bad experience!

jirons42 said...

I tried papaya once and had the same reaction you did. Didn't bother to try a second one.

Laura Peralta said...

WELL, PAPAYAS IN MY COUNTRY (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC) ARE MORE OF AN ORANGY COLOR. YOU CAN PUT IT IN A BLENDER WITH ICE, MILK, SUGAR AND VANILLA, MAKE A SMOOTHIE. GREATEST THING EVER.

Laura Peralta said...

make a smoothie. some ice, evaporated milk, vanilla and sugar. best thing in the world!

Marianne Molleur said...

Hi Lyn
Bland papayas aren't ripe.

I can't see the end of the papaya - some of them have a greenish ring around the narrow tip. Those won't ripen.Otherwise keep it till it's soft-ish and smells sweet -ish.

Like avocados they are sold firm and unripe for travelling.

mephyle said...

Hi, Lyn. My secret is to live in Mexico. Our papayas are orange-fleshed and big – about a foot long or more. A good ripe one has a rich flavour that reminds me of pecans. The aroma, though, is a little bit cheese-like (and not in a nice way).

Unknown said...

The one I got was soft and orange when it was cut. I didn't like the texture and my husband hated the smell (kinda like a body odor smell). I ended up throwing it out. I like the concept of papaya but can't handle the reality.

Catherine55 said...

I love papaya! The ones I buy are generally a nice salmon color inside though, not yellow like this one. Maybe try another variety and see if you like it better.

Totally with you on "frog's eggs" -- the seeds gross me out!

LuckyMama said...

Papayas are great. They are really good for your kidneys and are known to increase creatinine levels.

Meryl said...

I agree...they have to ripen and then they are DELICIOUS and sweet. The orange flesh is the key. This color looks unripe or something. It's very healthy and super delicious when it's the 'right' time a lot like avocado and cantaloupe.

Karen said...

Happy Belated New Year, Lyn!
I've never tried papaya so I can't contribute any tips.

Katherine said...

yummy! this looks so good :)

http://therealfoodrunner.blogspot.com

Tracy said...

I love (ripe) papaya but admit I never eat it "plain." I once had a very long vacation in Hawaii which is when I first had it and some places served it with lemon to squeeze over the papaya half, and some served it with lime. I really like it with fresh lime juice....seems to give it a nice zing.

steph said...

In Hawaii, papayas are awesome! On the mainland, not so much. You know, they actually make a big deal about carrying papaya seeds and various other fruit goodness home with you- you're not allowed. They say it's 'cause of fruit flies, but I think they're just fruit hoarders, making everyone go there for the good stuff.

iluvmerengue said...

Hmm, seems to me like that papaya was not quite ripe or maybe out of season... If it was not "organic" there's also a good chance too that a chemical may have been sprayed on it to retard ripening during shipping,that in reality usually ruins the flavor. It could also have been a not-so-good variety, the ones from Hawaii are small and a deep orange inside and very sweet, that same variety or a similar one is grown in other places, like the Dominican Republic, but you have to buy them when the skin dents a little when pressed with a finger, otherwise you have to let it ripen at home, preferably inside a paper bag, but beware to not forget it because papayas can grow mold very quickly.

As for the smell... well, it's not the best so I usually sprinkle a bit of lemon juice on the cut up pieces. And as someone suggested, you can put them in a blender with milk (or almond milk), a dash of vanilla, and a bit of honey. A similar "shake" is very very popular where I grew up (Dom. Rep.).