Papaya is native to southern Mexico and Central America but is grown in most tropical areas. Referred to as ‘food of the angels’ by Christopher Columbus, the orange-colored fruit is revered by many health professionals and nutritionists. Most of us know that fresh papaya packs a punch when it comes to health benefits. Loaded with antioxidants, vitamins C, B, A, E and K, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese and phosphorus, papaya is regarded as a super food. It protects against cancer, improves digestion and heart health, fights inflammation, and does wonders to your skin and hair.
Does Drying Affect Nutritional Value?
In the recent past, snacking on dried fruit has gained tremendous popularity. And for good reason, too. Whether fruit is fresh or dried, it is way better than snacking on chips and pretzels any day. Both fresh and dried fruit contain a great deal of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Though the drying process can often compromise certain nutrients, most of them stay intact. The dried version of your favorite fruits takes up less space in your stomach owing to the reduced volume.
The good news is that for most dried fruits, the calorie count is also less. However, this doesn’t mean you gobble up more of it. Often times, dried fruits such as papaya and pineapple are also laden with sugar to enhance the flavor. This negates the very reasons to have dried fruit in the first place.
Apart from knowing whether your dried papaya has been dipped in sugar, it is also important to know the drying method used on the fruit. To dry the papaya, heating or freeze drying are the most common methods. Additional ingredients, and the intensity of heat applied to the fruit also affect nutrient density. While heating can significantly affect water soluble nutrients such as vitamin C, freeze drying can affect the amount of carotenoids. Studies suggest that treating the fruit with calcium lactase before drying results in improved quality. The results showed that the dried samples treated with calcium exhibited significantly lower moisture content, water activity, apparent density and shrinkage, while volume was higher.1
Dried papaya can be a wonderful snack and dessert option. It is most commonly available in chunks, strips and bits. Since the water is removed from the fruit, the shelf life is much higher and it can serve as a convenient, healthy and nutritious on-the-go snack that you can stash in your bag and enjoy anywhere. Here’s how it does you a world of good.
1. Store House Of Carotenoids
Papaya is incredibly rich in carotenoids that have a wide number of health benefits. Carotenoids are fat soluble pigments that give color to foods such as tomatoes, carrots, papaya, grapefruit, oranges, squash and apricots. They decrease the risk of various diseases, particularly certain types of cancers and eye diseases.2
However, if your papaya has been dried using the freeze drying method, the temperature is of utmost importance to retain the goodness of carotenoids.3
2. Effective Against Constipation
Fresh papaya is known for its laxative effects and luckily for us, the dried version of the fruit retains these properties. According to studies, papaya dried on a foam mat is often used as a major ingredient in laxative drinks to supply fiber to the body and provide a natural solution to constipation.4 In fact, those dealing with constipation can easily try a couple of pieces of dried papaya and consume it with warm milk to get their bowels moving.
3. Keeps The Liver In Good Shape
Research indicates that dried papaya, much like fresh papaya, also exerts a protective effect on the liver. Rats treated with dried papaya showed signs of protection against toxins to a considerable extent and formed normal hepatic cells. It also lessened liver damage and decreased serum bilirubin levels.5
4. Fends Off Inflammation
An increasing number of studies suggests that inflammation is at the heart of a large number of diseases such as cancer and diabetes.6 A study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that inflammatory cells decreased when test subjects were given papaya. The 2011 study concluded that regular papaya consumption may exert an anti-inflammatory response and have potential in alleviating inflammatory conditions.7
5. Improves Eyesight
Since vitamin A is a heat stable vitamin, it is preserved very well in dried papaya. Vitamin A along with carotenoids is very good for maintaining eye health. A study published in the Archives of Opthalmology suggests that a diet abundant in fruits with antioxidants, vitamins and carotenoids is excellent for eye health. It is also reduces the risk of age-related maculopathy, an eye disease caused by damage to the macula, the part of the eye which provides us with our central vision.8
6. Helps Manage Asthma In Children
Low levels of dietary antioxidants are associated with allergic diseases including asthma. Vitamin A and carotenoids, found in dried papaya, are dietary antioxidants that are likely to play an important role against airway inflammation. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Asthma tested 433 asthmatic schoolchildren and 537 healthy control subjects, between 6 and 18 years of age. The study concluded that reduction of vitamin A in asthmatic children can be disastrous and contribute to the condition.9
|↑1||Udomkun, Patchimaporn, Busarakorn Mahayothee, Marcus Nagle, and Joachim Müller. “Effects of calcium chloride and calcium lactate applications with osmotic pretreatment on physicochemical aspects and consumer acceptances of dried papaya.” International journal of food science & technology 49, no. 4 (2014): 1122-1131.|
|↑2||Johnson, Elizabeth J. “The role of carotenoids in human health.” Nutrition in clinical care 5, no. 2 (2002): 56-65.|
|↑3||Arya, S. S., V. Natesan, and P. K. Vijayaraghavan. “Stability of carotenoids in freeze dried papaya (Carica papaya).” International Journal of Food Science & Technology 18, no. 2 (1983): 177-181.|
|↑4||Widyastuti, Theresia Endang W., and Ignatius Srianta. “Development of functional drink based on foam-mat dried papaya (Carica papaya L.): Optimisation of foam-mat drying process and its formulation.” International Journal of Food, Nutrition and Public Health 4, no. 2 (2011): 167-176.|
|↑5||Rajkapoor, Balasubramanian, Balasundaram Jayakar, Subramanian Kavimani, and Narayanan Murugesh. “Effect of Dried Fruits of Carica papaya L INN on Hepatotoxicity.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 25, no. 12 (2002): 1645-1646.|
|↑6||Hunter, Philip. “The inflammation theory of disease.” EMBO reports 13, no. 11 (2012): 968-970.|
|↑7||Abdullah, Maha, Pei‐Shin Chai, Chiew‐Yee Loh, Mun‐Yee Chong, Huai‐Wei Quay, Sharmili Vidyadaran, Zainina Seman, Mirnalini Kandiah, and Heng‐Fong Seow. “Carica papaya increases regulatory T cells and reduces IFN‐γ+ CD4+ T cells in healthy human subjects.” Molecular nutrition & food research 55, no. 5 (2011): 803-806.|
|↑8||Cho, Eunyoung, Johanna M. Seddon, Bernard Rosner, Walter C. Willett, and Susan E. Hankinson. “Prospective study of intake of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and carotenoidsand risk of age-related maculopathy.” Archives of Ophthalmology 122, no. 6 (2004): 883-892.|
|↑9||Al Senaidy, Abdulrahman M. “Serum vitamin a and β-carotene levels in children with asthma.” Journal of Asthma 46, no. 7 (2009): 699-702.|