Many fruits that are in season during the summer taste like the tropical vacation we wish we could go on right now. Not only can they transport our minds when we take a bite, but many of them also boast some serious anti-aging powers. We’re looking at you, papaya!
The papaya is a tropical fruit native to Mexico and South America that comes from the Carica papaya plant. When unripe, papayas are green on the outside. When they’re ripe, they take on a more orange color on the outside and when you cut into one, you’ll find a bright, reddish-orange “meat” that’s loaded with health-boosting nutrients.
Papayas contain high amounts of fiber, vitamins A and C, folate, and potassium. On top of this, they’re packed with antioxidants like lycopene which add to its health benefits.
The antioxidants in papaya fight oxidative damage in the body that can cause inflammation and disease. Studies show that papaya helped to lower oxidative stress in people with conditions like liver disease, hypothyroidism, and even prediabetes. Not to mention, oxidative damage in the brain is often a sign of the onset of Alzheimer’s. Results from one study found that adults with Alzheimer’s who took papaya extract saw a 40 percent reduction in a biomarker that indicates oxidative damage. This is likely due to the lycopene content in papaya which helps reduce excess iron in the body. Excess iron produces disease-causing free radicals. Lycopene has also been found to help ward-off cancer.
Papaya also contains a powerful enzyme called papain which is known to boost digestive health, and has been used traditionally to help with conditions like constipation and IBS. Papain helps with the breakdown of proteins in the digestive tract so your body can more readily absorb those nutrients. One study also showed that people taking papaya extract for 40 days experienced significant improvements in constipation and bloating!
Enzymes in papaya may also protect against skin damage. Skin aging is often caused by free-radical damage, and the antioxidants in papaya help to prevent and fight it. Plus, lycopene and vitamin C in papaya may also help reduce wrinkles, fine lines, and skin sagging. In one study, older women who consumed lycopene, vitamin C, and other antioxidants for 14 weeks experienced a significant reduction in depth of wrinkles on the face. Lycopene may also help protect the skin from sun damage that can cause pre-mature skin aging.
There are a few ways to incorporate papaya into your routine to get all its health benefits. Firstly, you can eat the fruit just as it is. Make sure that you’re eating ripe papaya, as it’s the most rich in those important enzymes. Aside from that, you can also take a papaya extract supplement. For a product we love, try this one from Pure Organic Ingredients ($13.99, Amazon).
Here’s to better health and a youthful glow!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.