10 Good Reasons You Should Eat Papaya

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Papaya is among the most popular foods, known for its luscious, juicy taste. It is grown all over the world and is especially popular in tropical and sub-tropical areas. Although it is more commonly associated with Asian food, papaya is actually native to the Americas. Also known as pawpaw or papaw, the scientific name of papaya is Carica papaya.

Why You Should Eat Papaya?

Papaya is packed with nutritional benefits including healthy digestion, weight-loss, boosted immunity, and heart health. Apart from its dietary role, papaya is also used in many unexpected ways. The whole fruit, including other parts of the tree, is beneficial to health in several ways. 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, as well as certain chewing gums.

Papaya Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, papaya is 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. Together, these nutrients help improve cardiovascular health and protect against colon cancer.

Watch Video: 4 Surprising Benefits Of Papaya

4 Surprising Benefits Of Papaya And How To Eat It | Organic Facts

Health Benefits of Papaya

Let us look into the amazing benefits of papaya below.

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

Aids in Digestion

Papaya is a popular natural remedy for treating stomach disorders, such as indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, and acidity.

A study published in Neuro Endocrinology Letters found that the consumption of papaya helped in maintaining a healthy digestive tract and relieving digestive problems.

Papaya juice and the ripened form of papaya also aid in digestion. The fiber obtained from the fruit helps to increase bowel movements, says a study by a group of researchers from Austria. Improved bowel movements help ease the passage of stool, thereby reducing the effects of constipation.

The presence of folate, vitamin C, and vitamin E in papayas may reduce motion sickness.

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

Relieves Toothache

A paste of fresh papaya roots can be rubbed onto the teeth and gums as a home remedy for toothache relief. The bark of the tree, primarily the inner bark, is also an excellent remedy for tooth problems.

Weight Loss

Papayas are also good for people who are trying to lose weight naturally given the fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals that it contains. Having a bowl of papaya as a mid-evening or mid-morning snack is good for health.

A whole papaya and a half-ripe papaya with leaves on a table

Fresh papaya to make your food platter interesting. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Anticancer Properties

Researchers have discovered that papayas are effective in the fight against breast, pancreatic, and other cancers. A papaya leaf extract obtained from dried leaves produced anti-carcinogenic effects against tumor cells that were grown in the laboratory. It was observed in a 2010 study that the effects were stronger when the cells were given larger doses of papaya leaf tea. The scientists exposed different types of cancer-affected cells to different papaya leaf extracts and found that the growth of tumors slowed down

Another study suggests that the lycopene found in papaya is a strong antioxidant that helps to relieve the effects of cancer radiotherapy. According to research in the journal Mutation Research, the use of fermented papaya preparation may help reduce oxidative stress and cancer risk in people with type 2 diabetes.

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

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 dead cells and purifies the skin.

The beneficial properties and the healing enzymes present in papaya help treat sunburn and irritated skin. Lycopene, present in papayas, reduces 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.

Health benefits of papaya infographic

Add a slice of papaya to a fresh fruit salad and have it as a snack. Alternatively, you can also have dried papaya candy as a snack.

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, psoriasis, and others.

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 cure acne. Lates, when applied to a wound, can help in reducing the marks caused due to the injury, making it effective in helping in treating sores and burns.

Improves Heart Health

Include papayas in your daily diet as a snack to keep your heart young.

The seeds of papayas are good for keeping your heart healthy. Papayas contain three powerful antioxidants- namely vitamin A, C, and E. This means that they are helpful in preventing atherosclerosis and diabetic heart diseases.

The presence of pro-carotenoid phytonutrients helps prevent oxidation of cholesterol in the body. When oxidation of cholesterol takes place, it sticks to the walls of the blood vessels and forming plaque that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin E and vitamin C contained in papayas help in preventing the cholesterol from sticking to the walls, thereby keeping your heart healthy. As a good source of fiber, papayas also help reduce the LDL cholesterol levels in the body.

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

Anti-inflammatory Effects

Papayas help in reducing inflammation in your body.

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.

Papayas have been known to be effective against rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In addition to the anti-inflammatory properties discussed above, one of the enzymes found in papayas, called chymopapain, has a significant effect on controlling rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Helps Prevent Macular Degeneration

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

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.

According to a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, consumption of 3 or more servings of this fruit on a daily basis may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).

Regulates Menstruation

Papaya juice can be of great help for women with irregular menses.

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

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

Tips to Eat Papayas

  • Pieces of papaya, when soaked with a bit of lemon juice and honey, are an absolute treat for the taste buds.
  • Blend papayas, strawberries, and yogurt for a cold soup treat.
  • Add a slice of papaya to a fresh fruit salad and have it as a snack. Alternatively, you can also have dried papaya candy as a snack.
  • Have a bowl of fresh, ripe papaya along with your breakfast to add calories that you require for the day.

Side Effects of Papaya

Consumption of papaya in normal amounts is recognized safe by 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, causes uterine contractions which might lead to miscarriage. Avoid eating raw papaya if you are pregnant.
  • 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 or cardiac depression. In some cases, the narrowing of blood vessels is also seen, which is caused due to carpine.
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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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