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Papain: Helps Digestion and Tenderizes Meat, Naturally
It’s not often that a product is both digestive aid and kitchen aid. Leave it to the all-mighty papaya to pull off such successful multitasking. When ripe, the tropical fruit is prized for its tasty flesh, but papayas are also useful before they're ready to be eaten.
Unripe papayas produce a cloudy latex-like substance called papain, a proteolytic enzyme that is an essential part of digestion. Proteolytic enzymes breakdown the peptide bonds that form protein, releasing the amino acids that the body needs in the process. This makes papain an effective meat tenderizer, and a natural method of treating indigestion.
Papain latex is found under the skin of an unripe papaya. Once collected, it is dried and sold in a powdered form. People who have difficulties digesting can take papain supplements before meals — jiggling bottles of papain, also called papaya enzyme, are beginning to join Lactaid pills and tins of Altoids in the pockets of enthusiastic eaters.
Proteolytic enzymes like papain have also been linked to the reduction of inflammation and pain. Studies have shown that papain can help heal injuries and soothe back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as speed recovery from surgery.
What’s your favorite digestive aid? Tums? Mint tea? Whiskey? Please share your comments below.