I have been on a papaya kick lately where all I want to eat is the sweet, buttery fruit. My mom is from Honolulu, Hawaii and I was lucky enough to live there until I was 8 years old, so I have always had papaya fruit as a staple in my diet. It was understandably a little harder to come by in Nebraska though.
Papaya is the fruit of the Carica papaya, native to the tropics of the Americas. The fruit is ripe when it is soft to the touch and the outer skin has changed from green to an amber or orange hue. The flesh inside the fruit is a rich orange color with either pink or yellow hues. Although papaya seeds are edible, they can be bitter in taste. I prefer to scrape them out gently with a spoon and discard them. I like the fruit best sliced in half and eaten with a spoon.
There are many health benefits to consuming papaya. The fruit contains an enzyme called papain that helps digest proteins. It also is rich in carotenes, vitamin C, fiber, B vitamins, folate and pantothenic acid, potassium, copper, and magnesium. These nutrients promote cardiovascular health, provide protection against colon cancer, and prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, which lowers it.
Eating this beautiful delicious fruit reminds me of my childhood in Hawaii and my Grandma, my mom’s mom. She still eats one papaya every day. I prefer the Hawaiian papayas, they just taste sweeter to me, but I may be biased. Any way you get them, they are sure to be wonderful and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.