Papaya (also known as Carica Papaya, pawpaw, or papaw), is a delicious, cerise colored fruit that was once referred to as the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus.

It’s a great source of vitamins and other nutrients that the body needs to function normally, and it can be eaten by itself, added to a meal, or blended in a smoothie or milkshake.

Not only is papaya great to eat, but it is useful in other ways too. The latex derived from the raw papaya fruit is used as a meat tenderizer, and papaya is also used in the production of many cosmetics, skin, and beauty products, as well as in some chewing gums.

Papaya is rich in antioxidant nutrients like carotenes, flavonoids and vitamin C, and some B vitamins. It’s a good source of fiber, as well as minerals such as magnesium.

Here are 13 reasons to start buying papaya next time you’re at the store:

1. Digestive Aid

Papayas have been used in traditional medicine for proper digestion for a long time, and they possess anti-ulcerative properties.

They also contain papain, a digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins and ensures a reduced amount of protein is converted into body fat.

2. May Help with Weight Loss

Those who are trying to lose weight may find papaya a good choice due to the fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals it contains.

3. Could Prevent Infections

Papayas are known for killing intestinal worms, and could help avoid the infections and other complications associated with them.

4. Can Help Relieve Toothache

Traditionally, a paste of fresh papaya roots is rubbed on the teeth and gums as a remedy for toothache. The inner bark of the tree is also said to be a good remedy for dental problems.

5. Could Fight Cancer

Research has shown that papayas may be effective at fighting pancreatic, breast and other cancers.

A 2010 study showed that there were anti-carcinogenic effects when tumor cells grown in the laboratory were given large doses of papaya leaf tea, and the growth of the tumors slowed down.

Another study linked the lycopene found in papaya to relief from the effects of cancer radiotherapy, and research also suggests that the use of fermented papaya preparation could help reduce oxidative stress and cancer risk in type 2 diabetics.

6. Revitalizes Skin

Papaya is used in many cosmetics, and as a homemade facial mask. The papain it contains removes dead cells and purifies the skin, while the healing enzymes help to treat sunburn and irritated skin.

Papaya is also used to treat skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.

7. May Improve Heart Health

Papaya seeds can be useful for keeping your heart healthy, due to the three antioxidant vitamins they contain. These vitamins can help prevent problems such as atherosclerosis and diabetic heart diseases, while the pro-carotenoid phytonutrients help to prevent oxidation of cholesterol in the body that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

The fiber in papayas can also help reduce the harmful LDL cholesterol levels in the body.

8. Treats Acne and Burns

The latex found in papayas is used to treat areas of the skin affected by acne, and the fleshy side of the skin can be used as a mask for acne treatment.

Minor burns are treated with papaya latex as a home remedy, and it helps to reduce the marks caused by the burn. It is also effective at treating sores, minor wounds, and ulcers.

9. Anti-Inflammatory

The enzymes in papayas, such as papain and chymopapain, reduce inflammation in different areas of the body, according to research published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

10. Helps Relieve Constipation

Papaya juice and ripe papaya fruit may also help aid digestion, and the fiber helps to increase bowel movements, which can reduce the effects of constipation.

11. Helps Regulate Menstruation

Women with irregular periods have found papaya juice to be helpful, and eating green, unripe papayas is said to normalize menstrual irregularity.

12. Anti-Arthritis Properties

Papayas may be effective against rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, due to the anti-inflammatory properties it has, as well as the enzyme chymopapain.

13. Could Prevent Macular Degeneration

eyes

Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disorder, which results in blurred vision and blindness in extreme cases. Beta-carotene gives papaya its orange hue, and just as carrots help improve eyesight due to the beta-carotene they contain, papayas are also known to be effective against this eye condition.