Nutrition & Benefits of Green Papaya (Unripe Papaya)

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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People think that green papaya is simply an unripe papaya, but that isn’t the case, and this unique fruit has a number of impressive nutrients and potential health benefits.

What is Green Papaya?

Green papaya is the lesser-known of the two main papaya varieties. Common papaya is picked when its flesh is orange-red and is primarily grown in Hawaii, although it is also cultivated in Thailand and certain parts of Japan. Green papaya, however, is also known as Mexican papaya, where it originated. This pear or avocado shaped fruit has a bright green exterior, yellow-green flesh, and a central pocket filled with seeds. The consistency and texture of this papaya is closer to a mango, and it lacks the sweetness that makes regular papaya so popular.

The flesh and seeds of this fruit are consumed, and the seeds have a slight peppery flavor; they can be used as a spice if the seeds are dried and ground up. This fruit grows on a tree that reaches a height of about 12 feet and bears the scientific name Carica papaya. Due to the flavor difference between green papaya and Hawaiian papaya, the former is commonly used more as a vegetable than a fruit.

A basket of fresh whole and halved unripe papayas on a wooden table

Green papaya is a powerful fruit contains lots of nutrients and enzymes. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Papayas, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]88.06
Energy [kcal]43
Energy [kJ]179
Protein [g]0.47
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.26
Ash [g]0.39
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]10.82
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.7
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]7.82
Glucose (dextrose) [g]4.09
Fructose [g]3.73
Calcium, Ca [mg]20
Iron, Fe [mg]0.25
Magnesium, Mg [mg]21
Phosphorus, P [mg]10
Potassium, K [mg]182
Sodium, Na [mg]8
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.08
Copper, Cu [mg]0.05
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.04
Selenium, Se [µg]0.6
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]60.9
Thiamin [mg]0.02
Riboflavin [mg]0.03
Niacin [mg]0.36
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.19
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.04
Folate, total [µg]37
Folate, food [µg]37
Folate, DFE [µg]37
Choline, total [mg]6.1
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]47
Carotene, beta [µg]274
Carotene, alpha [µg]2
Cryptoxanthin, beta [µg]589
Vitamin A, IU [IU]950
Lycopene [µg]1828
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]89
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.3
Tocopherol, beta [mg]0.02
Tocopherol, gamma [mg]0.09
Tocopherol, delta [mg]0.01
Tocotrienol, beta [mg]0.07
Tocotrienol, gamma [mg]0.01
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]2.6
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.08
12:0 [g]0
14:0 [g]0.01
16:0 [g]0.06
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.07
16:1 [g]0.04
18:1 [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.06
18:2 [g]0.01
18:3 [g]0.05
Tryptophan [g]0.01
Threonine [g]0.01
Isoleucine [g]0.01
Leucine [g]0.02
Lysine [g]0.03
Methionine [g]0
Phenylalanine [g]0.01
Tyrosine [g]0.01
Valine [g]0.01
Arginine [g]0.01
Histidine [g]0.01
Alanine [g]0.01
Aspartic acid [g]0.05
Glutamic acid [g]0.03
Glycine [g]0.02
Proline [g]0.01
Serine [g]0.02
Sources include : USDA

Green Papaya Nutrition

Green papaya has an excellent nutrient profile, including high levels of vitamin C, E, A, and folate, as well as magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, and other antioxidants. There are negligible levels of fat and cholesterol in these fruits, and there are less than 40 calories in a 100-gram serving. They also contain carotenoids and polyphenols, as well as a significant amount of lycopene and various amino acids the body needs.

Green Papaya Benefits

The most important health benefits of green papaya include aiding in skin care, soothing menstrual pain, boosting the immune system, protecting against heart diseases, and regulating digestion, among others.

Skin Care

With high concentrations of vitamin E, amino acids, and vitamin C, this unusual fruit is great for anti-aging, as it can help prevent wrinkles, blemishes, and age spots as we age, as well as treat inflammation and irritation.

Aids in Digestion

The fiber content in green papayas is impressive, to say the least, which can help optimize digestion, increase feelings of fullness, improve nutrient uptake, and balance the pH balance of the stomach.

Treats Heart Diseases

Potassium levels in green papaya are quite high, meaning that this fruit can help control blood pressure. Potassium is a vasodilator, relieving pressure on the cardiovascular system and lowering your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, and coronary heart diseases.

Boosts Immune System

A single serving of this fruit has more than 70% of your daily requirement for vitamin C, which stimulates the production of white blood cells. These cells are the body’s first line of defense against infections and foreign pathogens.

Relieves Menstrual Pain

Anecdotal evidence and research studies have shown that green papaya’s active ingredients and dense nutrient profile can help to relieve inflammation and affect hormone levels to minimize menstrual pain.

Protects Pregnancy

There is a significant amount of folate in green papaya, a B vitamin that is essential for preventing neural tube defects in babies.

How to Eat Green Papaya?

  • The best way to include green papaya in your diet is in salads, used in a similar way as crunchy cucumbers or green peppers.
  • As an addition to savory dishes, it can add a subtle sweet flavor and a refreshing bite.
  • These fruits are often blended in fruit smoothies, added to fruit salads, or used to make various desserts.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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