By Funke Oshifuye
I personally prefer to eat pawpaw when it is fairly ripe and crunchy, though its antioxidant content is higher when fully ripened and soft. Pawpaw, also known as papaya may be very helpful for the prevention of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease due to the fact that they are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A, through its concentration of pro-vitamin A carotenoid phytonutrients.
These vitamins are very powerful antioxidants that help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Oxidation of cholesterol can lead to formation of dangerous plaques in blood vessel walls that can eventually cause heart attacks or strokes.
This effect can be explained by the fact that vitamin E and vitamin C is closely related to a compound called paraoxonase, which is an enzyme that inhibits LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol oxidation. Pawpaw has also been shown to lower high cholesterol levels simply because they are high in folate.
The folic acid found in papayas is needed for the conversion of a substance called homocysteine into benign amino acids such as cysteine or methionine. When homocysteine levels are too high because they have not been converted, it can directly damage blood vessel walls leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Unique to pawpaw are protein-digesting enzymes like papain and chymopapain. These enzymes in addition to the antioxidant nutrients have been shown to help lower inflammation and to improve healing from burns.
In terms of immune support, pawpaw is not left out due to its high content of vitamin C and vitamin A which is made from the beta carotene found in its skin. You can therefore prevent recurrent ear infections, colds and flu by simply enjoying your papaya.
Smokers may have an ally in papaya because of its rich content of vitamin A. Studies have shown that diets high in vitamin A greatly helps to reduce complications associated with cancer and emphysema. So, if you smoke, or you are frequently exposed to second-hand smoke, it is wise to increase your intake of pawpaw and other vitamin A rich foods.
The nutrients in pawpaw have also been shown to be helpful in the prevention of colon cancer.
Papaya’s fiber, apart from aiding digestion by increasing our bowel movement, is able to bind to cancer-causing toxins in the colon and keep them away from the healthy colon cells. In addition, papaya’s folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E have each been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.
When these nutrients work together, they provide protection for colon cells from free radical damage to their DNA. If you want to reduce your risk of colon cancer, where else can you get these synergistic protection if not from pawpaw?