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Papaya is also known as papaw or pawpaw and is the fruit of the Carica Papaya tree. It originated from southern Mexico and neighboring Central America while it has been naturalized in the Caribbean Islands, Florida, some African countries, India, Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Hawaii.
Christopher Columbus reputedly called papaya as the “fruit of the angels.” However, women in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka have used papaya as a folk remedy for contraception and abortion. Modern research also confirmed that eating large amounts of unripe papaya works as a natural contraceptive and can induce abortion.
Papaya is the world’s fourth widely produced tropical fruits with India, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Mexico as the leading producers of papaya.
Papaya Nutrition Facts Chart
Now let’s jump into your papaya options.
Basic Types of Papaya
Hawaiian Sunrise/Sunset Papayas
The Sunrise papaya is grown in Kauai and the fruit itself can weigh up to 26 ounces. It has beautiful red-orange skin and flesh, and it is very sweet. It also has a seed cavity that is very shallow, which means removing the seeds is much easier than it is with other types of papaya.
Also called the Strawberry papaya, this type has a skin that gets freckles as it ripens and has some of the sweetest flesh of any type of papaya. With a flavor that is similar to melon, berries, and peaches, the Sunrise papaya is available all year long and is filled with beta-carotene and vitamins A, C, E, and K. It is also a very versatile piece of fruit, and you can use the juice to marinate meats and dice it to add it to your salads.
The Sunset papaya is small to medium in size with orange-red flesh and skin. It is actually a dwarf variety that produces high numbers of fruits, and it originated at the University of Hawaii. Sunset papayas are generally a bit smaller than the Sunrise papayas, and their skin color is a bit more intense. In addition, Sunset papayas are very uniform in shape and color and tend to have a much longer shelf life, as well.
Mexican Red/Yellow Papayas
Mexican papayas are always very large in size, and in fact, many of them can get up to 10 pounds in weight. The red ones have rose-colored flesh and taste very sweet, although these papayas are never as sweet as the ones grown in Hawaii. The yellow papayas have yellow flesh that is somewhat sweeter than the Mexican red papayas, but they, too, are less sweet than the papayas grown in Hawaii.
Mexican papaya tends to turn green as it gets riper, and they contain non-edible seeds that you must remove before you consume the fruit itself. They are available all year around, and they can range in size and get up to 15 pounds, although the average size for Mexican papaya is one to two pounds and 6 to 12 inches in size.
They contain numerous nutrients, including vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, and fiber. They can even help aid in digestion, thanks to the enzyme known as papain, and they are one of the fastest-growing varieties of tropical plants consumed today.
Miscellaneous Types of Papayas
This type of papaya is grown mostly in Queensland, Australia, and it is very sweet and heavy – up to 5 pounds in weight.
Guinea Gold papaya
Grown in Western Australia, the Guinea Gold papaya gets to a little more than 2 pounds and has beautiful yellow flesh.
Hortus Gold papaya
The Hortus Gold papaya originated in South Africa and is quite heavy, getting up to 3 pounds in weight. It also has a beautiful yellow flesh.
This is a dwarf variety that was developed at the University of Hawaii, and it has yellow-orange flesh that is very sweet and tasty.
These papayas have yellow flesh and can weigh up to 22 ounces. They are grown in the Puna district of Hawaii, where roughly 90-percent of Hawaii’s papayas are grown.
This is another type from Queensland, Australia, with a wonderful sweet taste.
Grown in Western Australian, the Sunnybank papaya has yellow flesh and is slightly small, usually getting only to around 1 pound in weight.
Weighing between 16 and 39 ounces when ripe, these papayas has flesh that is very sweet and orangish-yellow in color.
Interesting Facts About Papayas
What’s in a Name?
In addition to “papaya,” the fruit is also known as a tree melon and as Paw Paw or Papaw in Australia.
Two Main Types Are Available
Most papaya that people purchase come from either Hawaii or Mexico; however, the fruit is now grown almost all over the globe, and there are numerous varieties and tastes with each area. Nowadays, the only place in the United States that grows papayas for commercial purposes in Hawaii.
Some Unusual Purposes
In many parts of the world, papayas have been used as both contraception and as a way to induce abortion, with the latter being more effective if you eat large quantities of it. This only works, however, when you use unripe papaya.
Help for Some of the World’s Diseases
People in other parts of the world drink tea with papaya in it to ward off diseases such as malaria.
A Very Versatile Fruit
In addition to eating the papaya, the fruit has other uses as well. You can use the bark of the tree to make a strong rope, grind up the seeds and use it in place of pepper, and it can be consumed as juice, various sauces, and even as a tool to tenderize meat.
The Many Health Benefits of Papaya
Not only is the fruit of the papaya filled with vitamins and nutrients, but it has been used as an aid to digestion, as an injection to treat herniated discs, and used topically to treat a variety of skin problems, including burns, cuts, and even rashes.
How to Buy the Perfect Papaya
If you’re shopping for papayas, make sure that you choose one that is mostly or completely yellow and one that gives slightly to pressure. If it is green or hard when you buy it, it will never ripen properly because this means it is unripe papaya and was picked from the tree at the wrong time.
Lots of Vitamin C
Just one small papaya has more than 300-percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C. In addition, papayas also have Vitamin B, potassium, fiber, and magnesium, not to mention high levels of antioxidants. It is also very low in calories, and there only about 100 calories in papaya that is less than 4 ounces in weight.