Papaya: Nutrition, Benefits, Side Effects, & Uses

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

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Papaya is among the most popular fruits, known for its luscious, juicy taste. It is grown all over the world and is especially popular in tropical and subtropical 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 fruit is packed with nutrients that aid in healthy digestion, boosted 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 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.

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.

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 :
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

Antioxidant Potential

Papaya fruit is a rich source of antioxidants.

Multiple studies show that fermented papaya helps in reducing oxidative stress. This, in turn, helps in delaying aging, managing type 2 diabetes, and alleviating hypothyroidism. It has also been shown to help in fighting liver disease.

In vivo research also shows that using unripe papaya in a regular diet may help in lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

A 2012 animal study shows that papaya fruit extracts may help in boosting the immune system.

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

Anticancer Properties

Researchers have discovered that papayas are effective in fighting against cancer, especially breast cancer.

A 2010 study showed that papaya leaf extract showed anti-carcinogenic effects against tumor cells that were grown in the laboratory. It was observed 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.

Aids in Digestion

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

A study published in Neuro Endocrinology Letters found that 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.

You can know 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

Improves Heart Health

Include papayas in your daily diet as a snack to keep your heart healthy and 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 may be helpful in preventing atherosclerosis and other heart diseases.

Studies show that papayas may also help in lowering the LDL or bad 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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

Relieves Toothache

Different parts of the papaya tree and fruit have been used for dental problems.

Research shows that a solution made from the papaya leaf latex helps in relieving toothache, mouth sores, sore throat, and thrush.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Know how papaya seeds benefit your health here.

Regulates 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.

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.

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.

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 flavor of a cantaloupe melon and mango mixed together. Ripe papaya has a butter-like texture and it melts when you put a cube in your mouth. We know you’re salivating.

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.

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.

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. Protection Status
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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