Even the unripe papaya fruit is a good source of nutrition
Papaya or Carica papaya is a soft-wooded, evergreen tree. It is mostly cultivated in tropical countries for its easily digestible fruit. In Manipur, there is a belief that papaya flowers are the perfect remedy for diabetes. Slightly bitter in taste, the flowers keep sugar levels in control when consumed regularly as a vegetable.
Even the papaya fruit is relished by many. In the northeastern states of India, people rustle up delicacies even from the raw variety. Across the country, the raw fruit is used to soften meat and enhance its flavour.
Papaya may be regarded as a wholesome fruit, as it is rich in essential nutrients like proteins, minerals and vitamins. The vitamin c content of papaya increases as the fruit matures. Its carbohydrates are present in the form of 'invert sugars', which are nothing but a form of pre-digested food.
Papaya has remarkable medicinal values that have been recognised since time immemorial. It is not only one of the most easily digested fruits, but also aids the digestion of other foodstuffs. Papain in the raw papaya is beneficial to combat several health problems -- deficiency of gastric juice, excess of unhealthy mucus in the stomach, dyspepsia (indigestion) and intestinal irritation. The ripe fruit, if eaten regularly, corrects habitual constipation, bleeding piles and chronic diarrhoea. The juice of the raw papaya, being an irritant, is useful to cure several skin diseases -- it is applied on swellings to prevent pus formation; it can also help treat corns, warts, pimples, horn and abnormal outgrowth of the skin.
The milky juice of the unripe papaya is a must for those having worms in their stomach. A tablespoon of the fresh juice along with the same quantity of honey and three to four tablespoons of hot water is an ideal dose for the adults.
Hoihnu Hauzel is working as a journalist with the Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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