Raw green papayas contain essential nutrients and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and vitamins like A, C, B and E. It also contains a powerful enzyme called papain, which plays a key role in digestive processes. Papain is a powerful digestive aid and antioxidant. It breaks down large proteins into smaller polypeptides and into individual amino acids. The papaya enzyme papain breaks down larger proteins into smaller polypeptides, and into individual amino acids.
- Papaya is very high in vitamin C. This and other antioxidants in papaya helps to prevent a variety of illnesses.
- Red papayas contain lots of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A.
- Papaya contains lots of vitamin B9 (folate) which is vital for DNA formation and also critical for pregnant women.
- Papaya also provides critical minerals such as potassium and magnesium. 100g gives 180mg of potassium and 20mg of magnesium.
Raw green papaya is shredded and blended with tomatoes, chillies, long beans, garlic lime juice, fish sauce, dried shrimp and a touch of brown sugar. This is part of the daily diet in South Asia and it's known as 'Som Tam' in Thailand. A bowl of som tam is packed with antioxidants, fibre and vitamins. It's also very low in calories.
The vitamin C content of papaya decreases the longer it is exposed to light and air. To get the maximum amount of vitamin C, cut the papaya just before you plan to serve the salad.