June is National Papaya Month. Who knew?! Vegan health coach Jenné Claiborne of Sweet Potato Soul fills us in on why we should eat more papaya (even when the month is over).

It’s National Papaya Month! To celebrate I’m using papaya in fun and interesting ways. In addition to its yummy flavor, papaya has become one of my favorite fruits thanks to it’s many health benefits. If you’ve ever purchased digestive enzymes, you may have seen papain as one of the main ingredients. Papain is an enzyme found in the papaya fruit that helps break down protein. Papaya enzymes have also been shown to help reduce inflammation in the body. It’s also bursting with antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin A, both which help strengthen the immune system. The fiber in papaya, along with its vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, helps protect against heart disease and colon cancer.

Furthermore, this delicious fruit is extremely versatile. I’ve enjoyed papaya in everything from savory salads in Southeast Asia to summertime sorbets. My newest way to enjoy the fruit is in a delicious smoothie. For healthy digestion our bodies need to produce adequate amounts of enzymes to help us break down the food we eat, or we can eat the enzymes to lessen the work on our system. In this recipe I combine papaya and pineapple, two fruits known for containing powerful and efficient digestive enzymes. These two tropical fruits are blended with fresh ginger root and mint leaves for extra flavor and digestive boost.

This month, take a trip to the tropics with this Ginger Papaya Pineapple Smoothie:

Ginger Papaya Pineapple Smoothie

(serves 1 or 2)

2 cups ripe papaya, cubed

2 cups frozen pineapple chunks

1-2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped

3 fresh mint leaves

Blend in a high-speed blender until smooth. Enjoy.