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Papaya, papaw, or pawpaw is the fruit of the plant Carica papaya, the sole species in the genus Carica of the plant family Caricaceae.

Native to southern Mexico and Central America, papaya is now cultivated in most tropical regions, including Hawaii, where it was introduced in the early 1800s. Today, Hawaii is still the only U.S. state where papaya is commercially grown.

There are two main papaya varieties: Mexican, which can weigh as much as 10 pounds, and the much smaller Hawaiian type seen in grocery stores. Sometimes known as a tree melon or pawpaw, papaya is known not just for its rich sweet flavor, but also for its use as a meat tenderizer.

Initially green and somewhat bitter in taste, papayas are butter-yellow when fully ripe and shaped like a pear. Their pale-orange flesh has dozens of small, black, gelitonous seeds at the center, similar to a melon.

Stem and bark of papaya are used in the production of ropes.


Mature papaya is usually harvested once its skin slightly turn yellow. Organic papayas generally left to ripen on the tree; however, care should be taken since over-ripe fruits actually fall off from the tree on their own and get spoiled.

In the markets, papayas come in various sizes and stages of maturity; therefore, select the one based on your serving size and timing. Choose the one with intact skin without any surface cracks, bruises or cuts. Unripe fruits can be kept at room temperature for few days but ripe ones should be stored inside the refrigerator. Bring it back to normal temperature when it is to be eaten to get its natural taste and flavor.

Unripe green papaya is cooked as a vegetable in many Asian and Pacific regions. However, it should not be eaten raw as it contains toxic alkaloids in its milky latex.

Culinary Uses of Papaya

Papaya is a very popular tropical fruit that is used widely in cooking. The pink or golden flesh of papaya is used as a main component in various salads and desserts. Green papaya is a good meat tenderizer hence it is grated and used in marinade as a tenderizer. It is also a familiar ingredient in numerous stews and soup dishes. Papaya is a widely eaten fruit in breakfast and many papaya dishes are served as side dishes such as chili papaya with venison and papaya with pineapple salsa. Due to its long pear shape, papaya is a good fruit to be stuffed. Papaya is pureed to make chutneys and salsa . Baked papaya recipes are also very popular in various cuisines. Papaya seeds are usually scooped out and discarded but they have a spicy flavor and can be dried and used as a peppery seasoning.

The ripe fruit of the papaya is usually eaten rawwithout skin or seeds. The unripe green fruit can be eaten cooked, usually in curries (also see ), salads, and stews. Green papaya is used in Southeast Asian cooking, both raw and cooked. In Thai cuisine, papaya is used to make Thai salads such as som tam and Thai curries such as kaeng som when still not fully ripe. In Indonesian cuisine, the unripe green fruits and young leaves are boiled for use as part of lalab salad, while the flower buds are sautéed and stir-fried with chillies and green tomatoes as Minahasan papaya flower vegetable dish. Papayas have a relatively high amount of pectin, which can be used to make jellies. The smell of ripe, fresh papaya flesh can strike some people as unpleasant.

Papaya is popularly known as ‘papita’ in Indian cuisine and it is widely used in making Indian sweets and side dishes. Fruits salads also include papita as one of the main components. Various Indian lentil and stew dishes contain papaya cubes. Another cuisine that makes most out of papaya is Mexican cuisine. Salsa, salads and stuffed Mexican dishes are well-liked throughout the world. Spanish and American cuisines are also famous for making variety of papaya dishes.

The black seeds of the papaya are edible and have a sharp, spicy taste. They are sometimes ground and used as a substitute for black pepper. In some parts of Asia, the young leaves of the papaya are steamed and eaten like spinach.


One medium papaya has approximately 120 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrate (including 5 grams of fiber and 18 grams of sugar) and 2 grams of protein.

Papayas are an excellent source of vitamin C and one single medium fruit provides 224% of your daily needs. Papayas are a good source of folate, vitamin A, magnesium, copper, pantothenic acid and fiber.3 They also have B vitamins, alpha and beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthan, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, vitamin K and lycopene, the powerful antioxidant most commonly associated with tomatoes.

Health benefits of Papaya :

1. Skin  
It is great for the skin and can be used as a face pack to get its benefits. It helps to get rid of acne and skin infections as it helps to open clogged pores. The fermented flesh of papaya also called as papain helps to dissolve the dead cells, giving fresh and glowing skin as a result. It is good to cure the skin infections and wounds that don’t heal quickly.

2. Cholesterol
As it is a fruit that is rich in fiber it lowers blood cholesterol levels. It contains enzymes that help prevent oxidization of cholesterol, which in return helps to prevent heart-attacks. 

3. Anti-ageing
The antioxidants in papaya help in controlling premature ageing. This quality of the papaya helps you to get a younger look.

4. Intestinal Worms
The seeds of papaya too possess medicinal properties. They are very good in treating intestinal worms in the body.

5. Constipation
Papaya helps in preventing constipation and aids in digestion. The enzyme papain is a digestive enzyme that helps in natural digestion.

6. Colon
Its juice helps in curing infections of the colon by clearing the pus and mucus from it. You need to take it regularly to heal quickly.

7. Weight Loss
It is low in calories and high in nutritional values. Hence, it is a good food for those who want to lose some weight.

8. Morning Sickness
In pregnant ladies, regular consumption of a small slice of papaya helps to cure nausea and morning sickness.

9. Osteoporosis
It contains anti-inflammatory enzymes that help in relieving pain for those who are suffering from arthritis, edema and osteoporosis, and it also possesses anti-cancerous properties that can help prevent cancer.

10. Immunity
It is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C that help in boosting the body’s immunity and hence is very good for those who are suffering from fever, cold or flu.

11. Shampoos
Shampoos containing papaya are very good to control dandruff.

12. Menstrual Irregularities
It helps in controlling the menstrual irregularities in women. Papaya helps to ease menstrual cramps and helps in promoting regular flow of menstruation.

13. Liver cancer
As it has anti-proliferative effect on liver cancer cells it stops or slows down the growth of the cancer cells of liver and helps in its cure.

14. ContraceptionResearch with adult male langur monkeys has shown that it has contraceptive capability and maybe it has similar effect in adult males too. 

15. Kidney disorder
In poison related kidney disorder it was found that the aqueous seed extract of the unripe mature fruits of papaya induces antioxidant and oxidative free radical scavenging and help kidney to recover.

16. Dengue Treatment
Researchers have found that the juice obtained from the papaya leaves helps in the dengue fever treatment. The extract obtained from the papaya leaf increases the platelet count also known as thrombocytes in patients with dengue fever.

Read More at Wikipedia.
Recipe using papaya fruit see Here and Here and Here.
Recipe using green papaya see Here and Here and Here.
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