Columbus reportedly said that papaya was like the "food of the angels". I agree that it is indeed heavenly! Papaya is a fruit grown in tropical regions of Mexico, Central America, Africa, Asia and Australia. If you're confused as to whether there is a difference between papaya and pawpaw, you're not alone. The terms are sometimes used interchangably, but in fact they are distinct varieties. Red papaya has the darker, redder flesh, tends to be smaller and has a yellow-orange skin. Yellow pawpaw by contrast is larger, has yellow flesh, orange-coloured skin and tends not to be as sweet. Papaya is also picked when unripe and green to use in stews, casseroles and curries.

Nutritionally both are pretty impressive. They are packed with vitamin C, with a cup of diced fruit (~150g) providing well over your daily requirement. The yellow and red colour of the flesh comes from the presence of several carotenoids, including beta-carotene (of carrot fame), lutein and zeaxanthin (essential for eye health) and the powerful antioxidant beta-crytoxanthin. Some of the carotenoids present can also be converted to vitamin A in the body. They're also a terrific source of folate with a cup providing 14% of an adult's daily requirement. You'll also find small but significant levels of magnesium, B group vitamins, iron, zinc and calcium. And you get all this for only 180kJ, 10g of carbohydrate and 3.4g of fibre.
Green papaya contains an enzymes called papain that starts to break down the protein in meat. This is probably why green papaya has been used in cooking for centuries since it acts as a natural meat tenderiser.

Add sliced papaya to your breakfast cereal/muesli, chop and mix into a summer salad, mix with jalapeno chillies to make a salsa to accompany meat, or enjoy with yoghurt for a healthy desert. Since it is not terribly sweet it also works really well in salads, while the green fruit is excellent in cooking. But my personal favorite is to simply cut the fresh fruit in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with fresh lime juice and eat it directly out of its skin.
’s ‘Did You Know?’
Have you ever applied Paw-Paw cream when you have a sore or burn?  Or perhaps you use it as a lip salve as I do. Derived from the papaya fruit, Paw-Paw cream is a popular natural medicinal remedy. Papaya’s unique profile of enzymes and antioxidants can help to reduce inflammation, provide moisture and aid healing.

Nutritional Information

Dairy free Gluten Free Nut free Vegan Vegetarian

Dr Joanna Plate Category: VEGIES & FRUIT