8 Amazing Benefits of Papaya

by ashwini.singh last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

Papaya, a tropical fruit cherished for its sweet taste, offers more than just flavor. Native to the Americas and widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions, papaya, is a powerhouse of health benefits. Packed with essential nutrients, it supports digestion, boosts immunity, and promotes heart health. The versatile papaya is not only a delightful addition to meals but also serves various uses, from dietary supplements to cosmetic products. This blog explores the nutritional wealth of papaya and its wide-ranging health benefits, making it a valuable addition to your diet for overall well-being.

Why You Should Eat Papaya?

Papaya fruit is packed with nutrients that aid in healthy digestion, boosting immunity, and heart health. Papaya in its raw form contains enzymes, which are used in the preparation of dietary supplements and chewing gums. Latex, derived from the raw papaya fruit, is used as a meat tenderizer. Papaya is also used in several cosmetic, skin, and beauty products like papaya soaps, as well as certain chewing gums.

Papaya Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, papaya is possibly rich in antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, flavonoids, and vitamin C, as well as some B vitamins (folate and pantothenic acid). It is also a good source of fiber and minerals such as magnesium. [1]

A 100 g serving of raw papaya contains only 43 calories and 10.82 g of carbohydrates. You can easily add it to your smoothies and salads without worrying about your weight.

Health Benefits of Papaya

Let us look into the amazing benefits of papaya below.

May Have Antioxidant Potential

Papaya is recognized for its rich antioxidant content.  [2]

A study involving elderly subjects given a fermented papaya preparation (FPP) for four weeks showed a significant reduction in oxidative damage in red blood cells (RBCs) and protection against lipid peroxidation.  [3]

Another study on pre-diabetic individuals found that FPP consumption significantly strengthened the antioxidant defense system in vivo, reducing hemolysis and protein carbonyl accumulation in blood plasma.  [4]

In subjects with hypothyroidism, FPP supplementation normalized redox markers, suggesting its potential benefit in managing oxidative stress in such conditions.  [5]

Additionally, FPP has shown promising results in improving the redox status of patients with cirrhosis, surpassing the effects of vitamin E in certain markers.  [6]

Furthermore, a 2012 animal study indicated that papaya fruit extracts might boost the immune system. [7]

For more information on papaya leaf, its benefits, and uses, click here.

May Aid in Digestion

Papaya has long been valued as a natural remedy for various digestive disorders, including indigestion, IBS, constipation, ulcers, and acidity

Research published in Neuro Endocrinology Letters supports its role in maintaining a healthy digestive tract and easing digestive problems. Additionally, both papaya juice and ripe papaya have been found to facilitate digestion. The fruit’s fiber content is particularly effective in enhancing bowel movements, aiding in stool passage, and alleviating constipation, as noted by Austrian researchers.  [8]

Another study examined the gastroprotective effects of papaya seed extract (MECP) in rats, demonstrating significant reductions in gastric lesions and ulcerative symptoms. The study suggests that MECP’s antiulcerogenic action involves increasing gastric mucus production, reducing acidity, and possibly involving sulfhydryl compounds, without exhibiting signs of toxicity. [9]

You can learn more about the Benefits and the Recipe for Papaya Juice here.

Close-up of fresh and ripe halved papayas with seeds and papaya leaf on a wooden table

Papayas are an excellent source of vitamin C. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

May Improve Heart Health

Content: Incorporating papayas into your diet can be beneficial for heart health. Not just the fruit, but even the seeds of papayas contribute to a healthy heart. Papayas are rich in potent antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E. These nutrients aid in preventing atherosclerosis and other heart-related diseases.  [10] [11]

Studies have also indicated that papayas can play a role in lowering LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, further supporting cardiovascular health.  [12]

Additionally, incorporating unripe papaya into a regular diet has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, as shown in in vivo research. These findings suggest that regular consumption of papaya can be a delicious and natural way to support heart health. [13]

Here is a detailed article on the Nutrition Facts, Benefits, & Side Effects of Papaya Seeds.

May Have Anti-inflammatory Effects

Papayas help reduce inflammation in your body. [14]

These fruits contain enzymes like papain and chymopapain, which help lower the inflammation in different parts of the body, according to research published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. [15]

Research shows that papaya leaves show an anti-inflammatory effect on many allergic conditions and they may also help relieve asthma. [16]

Papaya contains papain, an anti-inflammatory agent that has the potential to relieve joint pain. Because of this compound, a 2020 pilot study has included papaya in an anti-inflammatory diet (ITIS diet) for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, more studies are yet to be conducted on this. [17]

May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disorder in which the ocular cells degenerate, resulting in blurred vision and sometimes blindness. [18]

According to a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, consuming fruits that are rich in carotenoids daily may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). [19]

An antioxidant named beta-carotene gives papaya its orange color. Just as carrots help improve the eyesight due to the presence of beta-carotene, papayas are also known to be effective in reducing the effect of macular degeneration. [20]

Papayas are also a rich source of vitamin A, which helps in keeping your vision healthy. [21]

Might Aid in Dental Health

Various parts of the papaya tree, including the fruit, have been traditionally used for dental care. A solution made from papaya leaf latex has been found effective in alleviating toothache, mouth sores, sore throat, and thrush.  [22]

Additionally, a study examining the anti-inflammatory effects of Carica papaya leaf extract (CPLE) in a dentifrice showed its efficacy in reducing interdental bleeding in healthy subjects. The study demonstrated that CPLE, both as a dentifrice and combined with mouthwash, significantly lowered gingival inflammation.  [23]

Another research focused on a dentifrice containing Papain, an enzyme found in papaya, among patients undergoing orthodontic treatment. This dentifrice was effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis, highlighting papaya’s potential as a natural adjunct in oral health care. [24]

May Aid in Skin Care

Papayas can be great revitalizing agents, which is why they are used in many cosmetics and are even used in homemade face masks by many people. The papain kills cells and purifies the skin. [25]

Lycopene, present in papayas, may reduce wrinkle formation in postmenopausal women. A good facial massage using papaya is a fabulous remedy to remove dead cells. If you are a person who spends most of the time outdoors, then papayas can be a great help as they fight free radicals that age your skin. [26]

The beneficial properties and the healing enzymes present in papaya help treat sunburn and irritated skin. The peels of papayas are also used to rub on the face and hands for healthy skin. Papayas are also used to treat skin disorders like eczema, skin infections, psoriasis, and others. [27]

The latex obtained from papayas is used to treat the areas on the skin affected by acne. The fleshy side of the papaya skin can be used as a mask to treat acne. [28]

Know how papaya seeds benefit your health here.

May Regulate Menstruation

Papaya juice can be of great help for women with irregular menses. Moreover, papaya has been treated as traditionally been used as a natural contraceptive in the Indian subcontinent. [29]

Consumption of green, unripe papayas can normalize the irregularity in one’s periodic cycle. Papayas are considered a “hot food”, meaning that they may produce heat in the body. This excessive production of heat in the body is thought to stimulate the estrogen hormone, inducing periods in females. [30]

Know more about the Nutrition & Benefits Of Green Papaya (Unripe Papaya) here.

Health benefits of papaya infographic

Add fresh papaya or dried papaya slices to your salads for a sweet treat.

Tips to Eat Papayas

These sweet fruits with musky undertones are a treat for every person. They can be added to salads, juices, smoothies, and sauces.

If you are wondering what papaya tastes like, it has a mild to extremely sweet taste. It has the flavors of cantaloupe melon and mango. Ripe papaya has a butter-like texture and it melts when you put a cube in your mouth.

Here are a few recipes you can make with papaya.

If you want to know how to choose, store, ripen, and cut papaya, follow this guide.

Side Effects of Papaya

Consumption of papaya in normal amounts is recognized as safe by the FDA. However, there are certain side effects of consuming papaya.

Pregnant Women: Papaya is classified as being harmful during pregnancy. Latex, present in high concentrations in raw and semi-ripe papayas, may cause uterine contractions leading to miscarriage. So, it’s best if you avoid eating papaya if you are pregnant. [31]

Gastrointestinal Irritation: Consuming too many papayas can cause a powerful laxative effect in the intestines. Avoid eating large quantities of papaya, especially if it is in its raw form. Unripe or raw papaya can cause pain in the intestines or stomach and can sometimes cause esophageal perforations.

Seeds: The black seeds of the papaya contain traces of an enzyme called carpine, which is a potentially toxic substance. According to the International BioPark Foundation’s information about medicinal plants of the Peruvian Amazon, this enzyme can make the nerve centers numb, which could lead to paralysis. In some cases, the narrowing of blood vessels is also seen, which is caused due to carpine. [32]

Allergies: If you are allergic to papain, avoid having papaya, or confirm with your doctor before you consider it as a regular food in your diet.

Interaction with medicines: Papaya may interfere with blood-sugar-lowering medications. So, it’s best to talk to a medical expert about dietary additions if you are on medication.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, papaya stands out as a multifaceted fruit, offering a plethora of health benefits. From aiding digestion and heart health to having potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, papaya proves to be more than just a tasty fruit. Its versatility extends to skincare, dental care, and even menstrual regulation, making it a valuable addition to a holistic health regimen. While enjoying its delightful taste and nutritional benefits, it’s important to be mindful of its possible side effects and interactions. Embracing papaya in your diet can be a natural step towards a healthier lifestyle.

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