- Protect you against heart disease. Papayas may be very helpful for preventing atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. When cholesterol becomes oxidized, is can stick to and build up in blood vessel walls, forming dangerous plaques that can eventually cause heart attacks or strokes. Papayas are an excellent source of the powerful antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin A, which help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Homocysteine is an amino acid in the blood that may promote atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in blood vessels) by damaging the inner lining of arteries and promoting blood clots. Too much of it is related to a higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease (fatty deposits in peripheral arteries). The folate in papayas converts homocysteine into benign amino acids such as cysteine or methionine. Papayas are also a good source of fiber, which reduces high cholesterol levels by binding with the bile acids that your body uses to make cholesterol. Fiber isn't absorbed, so when it exits the body in the feces, it takes the cholesterol-containing bile acids with it. As a result, your body ends up with less cholesterol, which your liver then pulls from your blood to make more bile, lowering your cholesterol levels. Eating a high-fiber diet not only reduces your total cholesterol, it also reduces your triglyceride levels, and your Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL-the most dangerous form of cholesterol) levels.
- Prevent cancer. The fiber in papaya binds to cancer-causing toxins in your colon and keeps them away from the healthy colon cells. In addition, the folate, vitamin C, and beta-carotene in papayas each reduce your risk of colon cancer by protecting your colon cells from free radical damage to their DNA. Beta-crpytoxanthin in papaya protects your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals and reduces your risk of lung cancer. Lycopene-rich fruits, such as papaya, especially in combination with green tea, may greatly reduce a man's risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Decrease inflammation. Papaya contains several unique protein-digesting enzymes including papain and chymopapain. These enzymes help decrease inflammation and improve healing from burns. In addition, the antioxidants in papaya, including vitamin C and beta-carotene, are also very good at reducing inflammation, and may help reduce the severity of asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases. Beta-crpytoxanthin in papaya protects your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals and reduces your risk of rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory polyarthritis.
- Support your immune system. You need both vitamin C and vitamin A for the proper function of a healthy immune system. Papaya may therefore help prevent such illnesses as recurrent ear infections, colds, and flu.
- Protect against macular degeneration. The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin in papaya defend your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals, and protect your eyes from developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults. Eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration , by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.
- Protect against rheumatoid arthritis. The vitamin C in papaya protects you against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints. People who consume the lowest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods are more than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consume the highest amounts.