What is the best fruit for a long life? The number 1 selection for some centenarians

Papaya has a reputation for so many health benefits that it has been called the fruit of long life.

It is listed as one of the longevity superfoods eaten in Blue Zone places around the world where people live extraordinarily long and healthy lives.

Headlines have dubbed it the #1 fruit eaten by the world’s oldest people.

Pearl Taylor, a 103-year-old woman who lives independently in Dayton, Ohio and offers life advice on TikTok, says she’s been eating papaya every morning for years.

More people need to learn about papaya, he told TODAY.com. Papaya is an excellent fruit.

What is papaya?

Papaya is a tropical fruit with vibrant yellow or orange flesh and black seeds. Its aromatic and juicy with a pleasant and sweet flavor, notes the Florida Department of Agriculture.

It has a milky, buttery texture ideal for smoothies, adds the American Heart Association.

In the United States, papayas are grown in Hawaii, California, Texas and Florida, but most of the fruit sold in stores is imported from Mexico, according to the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security.

Papaya nutrition

One cup of papaya cut into small pieces contains the following, according to the US Department of Agriculture:

Papaya has no cholesterol and contains less than 1 gram of fat or protein per serving.

It is full of nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, folate, lycopene and vitamins A, C, E and K. It also contains some iron and calcium.

What are the benefits of eating papaya?

Papaya is a great fruit choice, says registered dietitian Maya Feller of Brooklyn-based Maya Feller Nutrition and author of Eating from Our Roots: 80+ Healthy Home-Cooked Favorites from Cultures Around the World.

Papaya is a great source of several phenolic compounds, flavonoids, Feller tells TODAY.com, referring to bioactive molecules found in plants that are anti-inflammatory and considered beneficial to human health.

They have quite a lot of antioxidant activity Antioxidants actually help reduce the effect of free radical damage.

Free radicals are harmful particles that are generated when the body carries out regular processes necessary for life. This damage can lead to inflammation and increase the risk of cancer and other diseases, notes the National Cancer Institute, but antioxidants can protect cells.

Papayas’ distinctive bright yellow or orange color is the result of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, a chemical that helps form vitamin A, which act as antioxidants, Feller notes.

Another carotenoid in papaya is lycopene, which may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

Carotenoids may also be protective against cancer, studies have found. They are more bioavailable, better able to be absorbed and used by the body from papaya than tomatoes and carrots in humans, according to a study.

The fruit contains fiber, which helps with gut health and can help lower cholesterol.

It’s high in potassium, which can lower blood pressure and actually have a beneficial impact on cardiovascular health, adds Feller.

There is also thought to be potential for anti-diabetic activity in people who eat papaya because of how the fruit affects glucose and insulin response, he notes.

Is papaya considered a superfood?

Feller says he doesn’t call anything a superfood.

All the products have wonderful properties and really work best in synergy and when consumed in a broad spectrum, which means there is a lot of variety of plants in people’s eating pattern, he notes.

If we tell people that papaya is a superfood and they all start eating it, but they used to eat oranges, lemons, limes, kiwis, bananas, pineapples and they only eat papaya, they will miss out on the other nutrients that are. in these other foods.

Is it ok to eat papaya every day?

Yes, says Feller. His family is Afro-Caribbean, they eat it every day and they all have excellent labs, he adds.

But, he notes, it also depends on how people are completing their diet.

If there’s papaya in your area and it’s ripe and delicious, go for it.

Is it ok to eat papaya seeds?

People often choose to remove the seeds, which are a bit bitter, peppery and not very tasty, Feller notes.

But they are edible and nutritious, he adds. Eating dried papaya seeds can eliminate human intestinal parasites, a study has shown.

Risks of papaya

Avoid green papaya because it contains papain, an enzyme that breaks down proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and can damage the esophagus or harm a fetus if eaten by a pregnant woman, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Ripe fruit does not contain the enzyme.

Unripe papaya also contains latex, which can cause a reaction in people with a latex allergy, the agency warns.

How to choose a papaya

The fruit can be found in stores year-round, but is at the peak of its season in the summer and early fall, advises the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Choose smaller papayas that tend to taste better than larger ones with skin that is already starting to turn from green to yellow or orange, or has already reached that peak color, Martha Stewarts website recommends.

A papaya is ripe when it’s soft and smells nice and a little musky, he notes.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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