The Papaya fruit is a tropical fruit that can be found at any time of the year. This fruit is said to come from Mexico, Central America, and Northern South America. Papaya fruit is usually a greenish-yellow, yellow, or orange color. When not ripe, papaya fruit contains a lot of white latex and the skin is green with a rough texture. The fruit will ripen quickly at room temperature. When the ripening process occurs, the skin of the fruit will be bright orange or dark yellow and the pulp becomes aromatic and has a yellow or red-orange color. The fruit will be soft and sweet with a slightly runny texture. Once ripe, the fruit can be stored for two to three days. The discoloration when the fruit is ripe is caused by damage and loss of chlorophyll contained in the fruit skin. The red color of the papaya fruit is caused by the accumulation of lycopene, while the yellow color is the result of the conversion of lycopene to β-carotene and β-cryptoxanthin. Grown papaya fruit contains many ovoid seeds which are grey-black in color and attached to the flesh of the fruit with soft, fibrous white tissue.
Ripe papaya can be eaten directly without the skin and seeds, or it can also be processed, for example, to make fruit salads, drinks, jams, jellies, candies, and dried fruit. The unripe green papaya can be processed into a salad, cooked as a vegetable, or even preserved. Papaya fruit is rich in vitamins A and C. In 100 grams of edible papaya, it contains 86.7 grams of water, 12.2 grams of carbohydrates, 0.5 grams of protein, 12.0 grams of fat, 1038 mcg of beta carotene, and 78 mg vitamin C4. Beta carotene which is contained in papaya fruit will later be converted into vitamin A by the body. Papaya fruit also contains vitamins E, K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron in small amounts. The high content of phytochemical compounds in papaya fruit indicates significant antioxidant activity.
Papaya fruit has many benefits, one of which is for the health of the digestive system. By eating papaya after meals, it will make digestion smooth and prevent bloating and other chronic digestive disorders. Eating papaya fruit in the morning is also useful for preventing nausea and vomiting in pregnant women. The content of vitamin C in papaya can help absorb iron in the small intestine. Papaya fruit is also used to treat ulcers and prevent constipation. In addition, papaya fruit is also good for the circulatory system. Vitamins C and E contained in papaya can prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. This oxidized cholesterol can stick to the inner lining of blood vessels and form dangerous plaques that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Vitamins C and E work together with the peraxonase enzyme which inhibits the oxidation of LDL and HDL cholesterol so that plaque build-up can be prevented.
The content of vitamin C and provitamin A (beta larotene) in papaya is needed by the body’s immune system to prevent various diseases, such as recurring ear infections, colds, and flu. In addition, papaya fruit has also been shown to prevent colon cancer. Papaya fiber can bind to cancer-causing toxins in the colon and keep them away from healthy colon cells. Other nutrients in papaya also provide protection for the DNA in colon cells from damage due to free radical activity. Papaya juice exhibits antiproliferative and anticancer properties and has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells1.
Even though it has many benefits, many people do not like this fruit because of its aroma which may be considered unpleasant. There are several other fruit alternatives that can be consumed with benefits that are more or less the same as papaya, one of which is dragon fruit. This fruit tastes slightly sweet and also has low calories just like papaya. Dragon fruit also contains vitamin C and antioxidants that can scavenge free radicals. Due to its high antioxidant content, dragon fruit can prevent cancer and boost the immune system. This fruit can also help the detoxification process or remove toxins from the body through the body’s fertilization channels.
Contributor: Nisa Nur Islamiati 4th semester student of Bachelor of Nutrition, FKM UI
1. Ali, A., S. Devarajan, M.I. Waly, M.M. Esa, and M.S. Rahman. 2011. Nutritional and Medicinal Values of Papaya (Carica papaya L.). Natural Products and Their Active Compounds on Disease Prevention, ch. 8. Nova Science Publishers. [online] Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324418355_Nutritional-_and_Medicinal_Values_of_Papaya_Carica_Papaya_L> [Accessed 14 May 2020]
2. Silva, J.A., Z. Rashid, D.T. Nhut, D. Sivakumar, A. Gera, M.T. Souza, and P.F. Tennant. 2007. Papaya (Carica papaya L.) Biology and Biotechnology. Tree and Forestry Science and Biotechnology, 1(1): 47-73. [online] Available at: <https://edepot.wur.nl/10209> [Accessed 14 May 2020]
Kumar, K.R., and F.M. Sahu. 2018. Engineering, physico-chemical properties of papaya (Carica papaya) at different ripening stages. International Journal of Chemical Studies, 6(6): 2381-2387. [online] Available at: <http://www.chemijournal.com/archives/2018/vol6issue6/PartAO/6-4-879-440.pdf> [Accessed 14 May 2020]
Kementerian Kesehatan RI. 2018. Tabel Komposisi Pangan Indonesia 2017. Direktorat Gizi Masyarakat.