The genus Carica belongs to the subfamily Caricoideae within the family Caricaceae.
There are many varieties of papayas, such as the sweet variety, the dwarf variety, the dwarf tree variety, etc., each having different characteristics. For example, the dwarf variety is suitable for growing indoors because it does not require much space and grows quickly. On the other hand, the dwarf tree variety requires a lot of space and takes a long time to mature. In addition, the dwarf tree variety generally produces fruits weighing less than those produced by the sweet variety.
In recent years, the cultivation of papaya has been expanding rapidly worldwide. However, most of the existing cultivars are derived from the original wild form, C. paradisi L., which is distributed mainly in tropical countries.
The carica family includes about 5,500 species distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics. They are trees or shrubs with simple leaves arranged alternately along the stem. Flowers are usually small, inconspicuous, and grouped in clusters at the ends of branches. Fruits vary greatly in size and shape, depending upon the species; some bear edible seeds, and others contain large amounts of latex.
There are approximately 2,300 known species of Papaya, including those cultivated for food and medicine. Of these, the most important economically are the common Carica papaya, the guava, and the pawpaw.
NUTRITIONAL AND PHYTOCHEMICAL PROFILE
The papaya fruit is rich in vitamin A, B6, C, E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, folate, calcium, fiber, protein, beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, and phytosterols. This fruit is also a good source of dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and fat. In addition, it provides essential amino acids such as histidine, methionine, cysteine, tryptophan, tyrosine, phenylalanine, leucine, valine, threonine, alanine, arginine, proline, glycine, serine, glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and lysine.
ENZYMES: BIOACTIVE MOIETIES IN PAPAYA
Papaya contains numerous biologically active components, including enzymes called cysteine proteases. These enzymes play a role in many biological processes, such as digestion, immunity, reproduction, cell growth and development. Cysteine protease inhibitors are used in medicine to treat diseases like cancer, HIV infection and malaria.
Enzymes found in papayas are important for human health because they help break down food into nutrients we can use.
Papaya is one of nature’s most powerful superfoods. This tropical fruit is packed full of health benefits, including anti-cancer properties, immune support, cardiovascular protection, eye care, joint support, digestive aid, and much more.
A recent study found that papaya contains many nutrients and phytochemicals that help prevent cancer, reduce inflammation, and protect against heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases while supporting healthy weight management.
Papaya contains high levels of vitamin A, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. Vitamin A supports vision and bone development and helps maintain skin integrity. Antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin provide antioxidant defense against free radicals produced during normal metabolism. Dietary fiber supports digestion and reduces cholesterol absorption.
Papaya is rich in vitamin C, which protects cells from oxidative stress caused by free radical damage. Vitamin C promotes collagen synthesis, helping build strong connective tissue throughout the body.
Papaya contains significant amounts of vitamin E, which provides essential fatty acids and boosts immunity.
Papaya also contains folate, which helps produce red blood cells and prevents birth defects. Folate is important for cell division and DNA replication.
Papaya shows anti-tumor activity, antioxidant activity, anthelmintic activity, anticancer activity, Anti-inflammatory activities, anti-dengue effects.
The papaya plant takes about two years to mature, and it grows rapidly, reaching maturity within 3 months. Its leaves turn yellow during the summer season. After harvesting, the fruits ripen over a period of 4–6 weeks. Most papayas grown today are genetically modified organisms (GMO).
In Hawaii, where 80% of the world’s papayas are produced, most papayas grown there are GMO. There are many different types of papaya, including the sweet variety, which is suitable for eating raw; the tart variety, which is used for making jams and jellies; and the green variety, which is used to make drinks.
The side effects of papaya include itching and burning sensations. However, it is harmless when eaten orally.
People with allergies should avoid consuming papaya due to its latex content. People who have an allergy to latex may experience allergic reactions after ingesting papaya.
Consumption of large quantities of papaya may cause diarrhea or stomach upset. It is recommended that pregnant women limit their intake of papaya.
Dr. Vandana K.