The papaya is a tropical fruit and a highly beneficial one, but one seldom gives much thought to the papaya leaf. The papaya leaf is edible although there is little information to be found regarding the taste. It is a fact that in some places, mainly the tropical regions of Asia, the leaves are cooked and eaten like spinach. There are also a few stir-fry recipes scattered about mentioning the papaya leaf as one of the ingredients.
As healthy and nutritious as the papaya fruit is, the papaya leaf appears to be every bit as good for you. One reason we don’t eat more of the leaves is that one would normally have to be close to the source to get them fresh, whereas the fruit can be shipped greater distances. Another reason might simply be that if one likes the fruit, why bother with the leaves, which apparently require some preparation to make them truly edible, or tasty.
True Facts And Not So True About Benefits of Papaya Leaf
Some of the claims about the benefits of papaya leaf may be stretching things a bit, especially when the word “cure” pops up. For example, boiled papaya leaves are said to be helpful in the treatment of malaria. Whether this is true or not is open to argument but there does not appear to be any scientific evidence to support such a claim. The leaf is also considered by many to be a strong aphrodisiac. This is something one should probably personally try to see if it indeed works. If the claim is true, one would think the papaya leaf would be in great demand, like Viagra.
Something that does appear to be true is the papaya leaf’s role as an aid to digestion. The leaf contains a rather powerful enzyme which breaks down hard to digest foods, especially those rich in carbohydrates or protein. Many of the benefits of the papaya leaf can probably be traced back to this simple truth. If the leaf is indeed a powerful digestive aid, one would get nutrients from food that otherwise might pass right through the digestive system. In other words, more nutrients, better health. This is most likely why organs such as the liver, pancreas and even the prostrate, may benefit from the enzymes found in papaya, since the health of these organs is directly related to the performance of the digestive system.
The Power Of Papain
The enzyme responsible for this, called papain, is so effective in aiding digestion that it is commercially used in meat tenderizers. While this is true, there is always a claim made that makes one stop and wonder. In this case, the meat tenderizing properties of papain are said to be so powerful that animals are fed the leaves in order that once slaughtered, their meat will be much more tender than would otherwise be the case. If this is indeed true, one might take pause before eating too many papaya leaves.
Rich In Nutrients
One thing is certain, and that is the papaya leaf is rich in nutrients and medicinal compounds. The leaf is a good source of Vitamins A, C, and E, and beta-carotene. Minerals found in the leaf include calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium, as well as manganese, potassium and phosphorous.
The real answer to why we don’t see more papaya leaves or products containing the papaya leaf on the market, is that the fruit contains essentially the same useful compounds, enzymes and nutrients. So, why chew on the leaves when the delicious fruit more than likely makes a better tasting treat or meal? If you’ve a passion for stir-fry however, the leaves might be just the thing for you.
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