Red Papaya

Facts about Red Papaya

Red papaya is a fruit that used to be relatively unknown outside of the tropics, but today you can find it just about any supermarket. The fruit is loaded with nutrients so there is much to be gained if this fruit strikes your fancy. One serving has high fiber and potassium, iron, calcium, plus the daily requirement of vitamin A and three days worth of vitamin C. Red papaya contains antioxidants which can protect from certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer, and is known to help with digestive problems.


Shaped somewhat like a pear, red papaya is very sweet but does not have a high sugar content as you might expect. When picking out a red papaya to bring home, one of the things you can do is smell the fruit, because a ripe fruit will smell sweet. Never buy papayas which are very green, because they might not ripen entirely. However, it is these green papayas which contain the most papain, which is an enzyme that is used to tenderize meat and help with inflammation in the human body.

A red papaya is red inside and not outside, so don‘t go looking for bright red skin. When it is ripe, the outside skin will be more of a golden color and the flesh inside will be red. Other types of papayas turn pink or orange inside when they are ripe. It is said that Christopher Columbus called papayas the “fruit of angels,” because it was not only very sweet but very smooth as well.

The most common type of papaya found in U.S. supermarkets is a variety known as “Solo.” It has reddish-orange flesh. The papaya was so named because it is considered to be just the right size for one person, although it is often around seven to eight inches long and weighs in the neighborhood of one pound. Most of the papayas found in stores are from either Hawaii or Mexico/Central America. The Mexican red papaya is grown in both locations, but is larger than many Hawaiian papayas. Its red flesh is very sweet and popular with many people.

Red papaya is eaten just like a melon. You should use a sharp knife and slice it lengthwise down the middle. The center is full of black seeds, which you need to take out. This is one of those fruits where you don’t want to mistakenly eat the seeds, because they contain a toxic substance that can make people very ill and perhaps even cause death. The seeds contain a chemical known as carpain, and it can lower your heart beat and slow the nervous system. Neither are symptoms you want to experience.

Some people say papaya tastes like an apricot sprinkled with ginger. The fruit is used in all types of recipes--meat marinades, salads, and is often added to other fruits in both smoothies and dried fruit and nut mixtures. Red papaya adds nutrients to whatever dish you make with it. Its high fiber helps to regulate and clean out your colon. All together it contains a whole group of vitamins, including A, C, E, B-9 and K.

In addition to vitamins, papaya contains antioxidants, known as phytochemicals, which can protect the body from heart disease and certain forms of cancer. These antioxidants protect the body from toxins known as free radicals, which can attack cells. Red papaya also contains a couple of enzymes which are good at digesting protein. These are chymopapain and papain. One of the benefits of these substances is that they can help reduce inflammation for people who have arthritis, osteoarthritis, or asthma.