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Lets talk about food: Papaya for horses

Papaya conjures up images of a vacation in a tropical island paradise, but papaya can mean so much more to your horse.  Ripe papaya is a soft and fleshy fruit that can be used in a variety of ways, including in scrumptious chia biscuits for your horse.  

Let's take a close look at papaya and why it may be a valuable addition to your horse's diet.  

Papaya is rich in Vitamin A and flavonoids like beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, cyptoxanthin and lutein.  Vitamin A is one of the most commonly deficient vitamins in horses, especially in horses who do not have access to 12 hours of grazing every day.  

Vitamin A and beta carotene are not the same thing.  Actual Vitamin A is  NOT available from plant sources.  It is; however, often added to commercial feeds.  Vitamin A can be toxic so it is important to understand how much your horse needs if you are supplementing with Vitamin A.  

Beta-carotene is available from plant sources and is converted to Vitamin A by the horse but only to the extent that the horse needs the A so you will not have a toxicity issue with beta carotene.  Excess is stored or used elsewhere as an antioxidant, which works to keep your horse's immune system functioning properly.    

What else does Vitamin A do?

Vitamin A is used in the production of sebum, a compound that is crucial for  healthy skin and hair.

Vitamin A is used in the production of a substance called rhodopsin, which enhances the ability to see in dim light.

Vitamin A is necessary for proper bone development in all horses.  Young horses need it to grow healthy bone and older horses need it because bone breaks down and builds up throughout the lifetime of the horse.  

Vitamin A causes the production of mucous that coats the airways, digestive tract and other organ systems and acts as a barrier against infections.  

In her excellent book, "Feed Your Horse Like A Horse", Dr. Juliet Getty cites some of the symptoms associated with a Vitamin A deficiency: 

* Impaired red blood cells

* Reduced immune function

* Infertility

* Respiratory infections

* Joint Pain

Dr. Getty also describes the symptoms of Vitamin A toxicity and provides a clear guide to help horse owners calculate the amount of Vitamin A or beta carotene their horse should be receiving.  This wonderful reference book is available at www.gettyequinenutrition.com/

The carotenoids present in papaya are more bio available than those in other vitamin A rich foods like carrots, so feeding papaya may give your horse a much needed beta carotene boost. 

Papaya offers a number of other benefits as well. 

Digestion:

Papaya contains  papain, amylase and protease enzymes, all of which aid in the digestion of proteins and carbohydrates while encouraging proper nutrient absorption.  Papain is the ingredient food in meat tenderizers.  It breaks down strings of amino acids into smaller strings of protein making the proteins easier to digest.  The addition of papaya into the diet of an older horse or a horse who suffers from digestive issues may help ease their tummy troubles by helping facilitate digestion of proteins in the hind gut.  

Appetite stimulant:

Papain stimulates the salivary glands which may help stimulate the appetite in a horse.  If your horse isn't eating for any of the reasons I horse may choose to forego food, try feeding him/her some fresh papaya.  

Gut sweeping action:

Numerous equine health articles mention the value of pectin and fiber to help keep EGUS (Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome) at bay in horses.  Pectin is a water-soluble fiber found in fairly high concentration in Papaya.  Pectin forms a highly digestible gel in the hind gut of the horse.  When I cut and process the papaya puree for the biscuits I can take a knife and cut the papaya into slices for addition to my recipe.  This is a result of the pectin in the papaya. 

My Chock Full'a Chia Papaya biscuit contains chia, green papaya, aloe vera gel,  beta carotene and L-glutamine rich vegetables (carrot, kale, cabbage) and dried molasses powder.   I chose this combination of whole foods to provide nutrition and natural digestive support for horses who are in hard work or who have a heavy show schedule.  If you are looking for a way to add fiber, protein or beta-carotene to your horses diet, or if you are looking for natural gut support to replace acid inhibitors during times of stress, try Chock Full'a Chia Papaya biscuits.  

What you feed your horse matters!

 

Happy Riding

Mary

 

*This is a personal blog.  Any information herein is not to be construed as medical advice.  

 

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