For Flavor and Vitamin C, Try a Papaya!

Called the "fruit of the angels," the papaya packs a delicious punch of vitamins A and C -- especially in our Tropical Cobb Salad.

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on May 21, 2009
From the WebMD Archives

Christopher Columbus called the papaya “the fruit of the angels.” It's not hard to see why. One large papaya is packed with 235 milligrams of vitamin C -- that's two to three times more than your recommended daily allowance -- and is an excellent source of vitamin A, potassium, and calcium. (Other good sources of vitamin C, by the way, are cantaloupe, mango, and watermelon.)

Believed to be native to southern Mexico and neighboring Central America, the papaya has two main varieties: Hawaiian and Mexican. You commonly see the Hawaiian or Solo papaya in supermarkets; it has a yellow peel and a bright-orange fleshy inside. Mexican papayas are usually much larger and less flavorful but still have the same nutritious qualities.

Both varieties have edible round black seeds in the middle -- the spicy flavor is reminiscent of black pepper. The melon-like fruit also contains papain, an enzyme that helps digestion and is used to tenderize meat. To eat this exotic fruit, slice it like a melon, scoop out the seeds, and discard the peel. Mix it into a salsa, add to a smoothie, or just eat it as is.

Tropical Cobb Salad

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

8 cups mixed salad greens

1 cup peeled, cubed papaya

1 avocado, peeled and cubed

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 red pepper, chopped

2 hard-cooked large eggs, chopped

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/2 cup chopped green onions


1/2 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

3/4 teaspoon grated lemon or orange rind

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Heat nonstick griddle pan or grill to medium high and coat with nonstick spray. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes per side or until done.

2. Remove chicken and chop. Set aside.

3. Prepare individual salad plates or a large serving platter. Place salad greens on the plate and, one by one, layer the toppings and the chicken in rows over the greens.

4. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously; drizzle over salad.

Makes 6 servings

Per serving: 326 calories, 29 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 18 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 139 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 374 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 49%.

Show Sources


Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD.

USDA National Nutrient Database: "Papayas, raw."

Nutrition Data: "Papayas, raw."

CDC: "Fruit of the Month: Papaya."

Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products: "Papaya."

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