June is National Papaya Month! Papayas are low-calorie and high-fiber. This versatile tropical fruit has been shown to boost the immune system and may ward off cancer cell growth in the liver, with its high level of carotenoids and lycopene.

Papaya is important in the kitchen, as well, with its tenderizing enzyme known as "papain," which softens protein fibers and acts a meat tenderizer. This vibrantly colorful fruit can also be used medicinally as a supplement to help with digestion, as well as used topically for cuts, burns, rashes and stings. Its versatility doesn’t end there — it’s also packed with beta-carotene, which is important for vision health.

Selection, storage and use of papaya can be simple. Select a papaya that's yellow and soft to the touch for ripeness. If you choose a papaya that's green, let it sit on your countertop for a few days at room temperature, and it will ripen and be ready to use. Papayas make a great addition to fruit smoothies, green salads, pasta salads, baked in desserts, or eaten raw. Enjoy this recipe for a light summer salad packed with nutritious ingredients.

Arugula Salad with Grapefruit and Papaya

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

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2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ small shallot, minced

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon fine pink Himalayan salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

6 cups arugula

2 pink grapefruit, peeled and cut into segments

½ papaya, peeled, seeded and diced

1 small leek, cleaned and very thinly sliced



Whisk together vinegar, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, shallot, mustard, coriander, salt and pepper in small bowl.

Divide arugula evenly among 4 plates. Top with grapefruit, papaya and leek. Drizzle evenly with vinaigrette.

Emily McMillan is a registered dietitian for Hy-Vee stores in Rochester. This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.