The papaya was once an exotic fruit that was almost impossible to get in other parts of the world. Thanks to better shipping and technology, it is now possible to get papaya around the world. While in season local fruit is often considered the best, there are still some major benefits to the world today with access to these exotic and previously difficult to attain fruits.
Papayas are considered the world’s best fruit for health benefits. They are so full of vitamins and minerals that you could benefit by just eating a small part of one.
And papaya can be eaten in so many ways. You can opt for it in a pie, eat it raw, or even freeze or dry it out for your dessert needs. It’s a great addition to trail mixes, making them sweeter and better for you.
But just how are you going to benefit from papayas and is there anything negative that you need to know? Just what type of conditions is it going to help with?
Here’s a full look at all the health benefits of papaya, and absolutely everything you need to know, so you don’t end up with any negative side effects.
Just Keep in Mind the Balanced Diet
While papayas are good, it’s no secret that you can have too much of a good thing. It’s all about moderation and balance. You can get too many vitamins and minerals of certain kinds, and they can cause health problems.
If you’re going to eat papaya for the benefits, do make sure you opt for a balanced and healthy diet. Add it in as one of your five a day, rather than making a whole diet out of it.
Do also remember that there are natural sugars within papaya. You want to treat it like any other fruit, and that means filling up on other types of foods at the same time. Make sure you get plenty of exercises and follow an overall health lifestyle to get all the health benefits from your papaya.
The Nutritional Benefits are Amazing
If you’ve ever wanted to get the majority of your recommended amounts of nutrients in one food source, then the papaya is the food to choose. The nutritional benefits are amazing, and this has been considered one of the best to eat all the way back to the 1400s when Christopher Columbus discovered it.
In fact, Columbus described it as the “fruit of the angels.” The nutritious benefits weren’t as well known then, but it was juicy and was the best taste Columbus had ever had. Over time, people realised just how great it was for curing ailments and preventing other problems. With time, more research into the nutritional makeup could be done, and that’s how we now know that it is really one of the best food sources out there.
Let’s break down these nutritional amounts, as this will help us understand more about all these health benefits that will be later looked into.
To start with, one small papaya only has 59 calories in it. But within those 59 calories, you’re looking at 15g of carbohydrates. These are all natural carbohydrates instead of those refined ones that cause most of the glucose issues that we suffer from with food.
There are also 3g of fibre with 1g of protein. These levels aren’t that high, compared to many other fruits, but we can’t forget that we get 157% of our recommended daily allowance of vitamin C from just the one small papaya. Now just think of the support that our immune systems have all because of getting the right levels of nutrients.
A papaya also gives us 33% of our recommended daily amounts of vitamin A and 14% of the recommended amounts of folate. We also get 11% of the daily amounts recommended of potassium, with small amounts of other B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin E, magnesium, and calcium.
And if none of that is good enough for you, remember that there are antioxidants too. Most importantly, there are antioxidants called carotenoids—specifically lycopene. We’ll get into why this is so important as we go on. The antioxidants that come from papaya absorb much better in the body than from any other fruit and vegetable, which is worth considering.
While the protein levels can seem quite small, we do get a good amount of the enzyme papain. This also helps with the muscle meat breakdown, which is important for our digestive system. In fact, centuries ago, people would use papaya in the tenderising process of meat to help with the digestive process later.
There is a high amount of latex of the fruit, especially when it isn’t ripened. This is a negative to the fruit, and we’ll get more into this towards the end. As long as you cook the unripe papaya, this latex content isn’t going to be a major problem.
You aren’t just stuck with just eating the fruit. You will find seeds in the middle of it, but you can get various nutritional benefits from them. The downside is that they can taste bitter when eaten on their own. Some people will add papaya seeds to their trail mixes or green smoothies to help get more health benefits from their already healthy snacks and drinks.
So, let’s look into all those health benefits because of this nutritional makeup.
Free Radicals are Easier to Fight Against
Let’s focus on the antioxidants to start with. It is much easier to absorb all the antioxidants from a papaya than any other fruit or vegetable. This means that those free radicals in your body are going to be much easier to fight against than ever before.
Free radicals are a problem for numerous reasons. The main one that we think about is the cancer creation, but free radicals react during the metabolism phase in the body, which goes on throughout the day. They can cause oxidative stress, which leads to other diseases and can even hinder the immune system. You’re more likely to suffer from colds, but you could also develop problems like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
But free radicals can be good. In small amounts, they help with the destruction of the harmful bacteria in the body. So, they can help to keep you healthy. It’s all about getting them in the right balance, and this is what antioxidants help to do.
The carotenoids specifically help to neutralise free radicals within your body. Once neutralised, they don’t cause the same health problems within the body. Papayas can also help to reduce oxidative stress, so if the free radicals aren’t neutralised, the papaya is working against the free radicals to keep the oxidative stress levels to a minimum. This is especially beneficial in older patients who have hypothyroidism, liver disease, and some other health conditions, according to some studies.
It’s not just the antioxidants that help to reduce oxidative stress in the body. The lycopene content helps to remove too much iron. High levels of iron in the body are linked to free radical production.
And of course, we can’t forget that by getting more antioxidants to keep the free radicals at bay, we’re also less likely to develop cancer. Those who have cancer could find that they fight the disease at lot harder since the free radicals aren’t there to cause more cancer cells to develop. Those that have already developed can have their progression halted.
This is especially beneficial to women, as studies have shown breast cancer cells have less activity due to the antioxidants in papaya. Papaya was the best fruit out of all the fruits and vegetables tested within the study. Breast cancer remains one of the most dangerous for women and is the deadliest.
There is still more research needed. At the moment, the benefits far outweigh the negatives, so it’s worth adding the fruit to your diet. What have you got to lose in trying?
It’s Time to Protect Your Heart Health
Another major benefit that comes from the antioxidants is the benefit to your heart health. Studies have shown that the lycopene specifically helps to prevent heart disease occurring. The benefit is even furthered when there are high levels of vitamin C, which is just what you will get from a papaya.
There are studies that have shown antioxidants help to keep the levels of good cholesterol high while improving the effectiveness of the good cholesterol. With good levels of the HDL cholesterol in the body, the amounts of bad LDL cholesterol are lowered. Good cholesterol protects the arteries, by creating a smooth layer for the blood to flow past. The bad cholesterol leads to a friction-type layer, that can cause blood clots and issues.
With good levels of HDL, you will also see less inflammation in the body. This, again, helps to keep the blood flowing as it should. Not only do all your organs get a good amount of oxygenated blood, but your arteries don’t suffer the same risk of clots. You are at a lower risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
These studies involved a placebo, which didn’t show to be as effective as getting the actual good levels of antioxidants. That means it is worth getting the papaya in your diet.
You’re Reducing the Inflammation in Your Body
We’ve just mentioned about how good levels of cholesterol can help with reducing the inflammation in your body. This isn’t just a benefit for your heart health. It’s not just there to help improve the blood flow.
Inflammation is a major reason for pain in the body. Swelling within the body buts some extra pressure on the nerves. They set off the pain receptors in the brain, and you can end up with sore arms, legs, stomachs, and more without really understanding why. In fact, in mostcases, you don’t have an actual reason.
People can suffer from carpel tunnel, joint paint, and digestive pains because they have high levels of inflammation. While there are anti-inflammatory products out there, natural cures are the best. We just have no idea of all the chemicals added to medication, and there are so many herbal remedies that have been used for centuries.
Papayas are excellent for anti-inflammatory purposes, as we’ve already mentioned. But it’s also the overall change to our lifestyle when we start focusing on healthier foods that help. Our unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles tend to lead to issues with inflammation and pain, as the body responds. Inflammation is a way for the body to start healing, which suggests that the bad stuff is doing more damage than just making us overweight.
By eating more papayas and reducing inflammation, we end up reducing so many symptoms of chronic illness. These chronic illnesses don’t have treatments and cures, just ways to treat the symptoms. This also includes the likes of arthritis, which currently has no cure and can leave many patients depressed and annoyed. Why not nip the problems in the bud?
Our Digestive Systems are Supported
So, there isn’t a lot of fibre in the fruit, but there is enough to help with our digestive systems. Fibre is what keeps our bowels and intestines working properly. It helps to push through food build-up, toxins, and more, so they all go to the right place. We’re less at risk of developing constipation and digestive problems.
But don’t laxatives help with this sort of thing? Sure, laxatives can help to soothe constipation, but they’re treating the symptom. They don’t keep the digestive system working the way it should. Fibre helps to support everything and promotes a healthy system. So, it’s worth getting some, even in small amounts from a papaya.
And while the fibre count is lower than some other fruits, it is still a healthy amount for your needs. Studies have shown that papaya is a powerful ingredient for your digestive health. Opting for a papaya-based diet for just 40 days helps to decrease constipation and bloating.
The results from the study could be due to the lower levels of fibre, ironically. While fibre is good for the body, too much can cause bloating and other digestive problems. There are some people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome because they eat too much fibre. It seems strange, but remember what we said earlier: you can have too much of a good thing.
With the papaya, you’re getting just the right amount of fibre.
And it’s not just your digestive system that works better. You’re at a lower risk of developing ulcers, which can lead to other digestive pain and problems. Ulcers that burst cause infection and can be extremely serious. Studies in both humans and animals have shown that the papaya, including leaves and seeds, help with the treatment of ulcers once they form and can prevent ulcers from forming at all.
Let’s Not Forget Your Weight Loss Efforts
One of the first things I told you about papayas is the calorie count. You’re getting just 57 calories from one small papaya. That’s barely anything compared to the calories that you get from other foods out there.
This fact leads to one thing: you can support your weight loss efforts with papaya.
It’s not just the calorie count that helps, either. That small amount of fibre and protein will also help you with your weight loss. Both of these food groups take longer to break down in the body. You end up feeling far more satisfied with a papaya than you would with the likes of a bar of chocolate or a quick slice of toast—and you’ve eaten far fewer calories.
You’ll also eat less throughout the day, which means you’re keeping your calorie count down. You won’t feel like you’ve eaten much less because the fibre and protein will keep you satisfied.
The sweetness in your fruit is also beneficial. Too many people on a diet start to crave sweet food. Their bodies feel the need for the sugar, and they start to feel down if they don’t get it. Are you one of those?
Papayas do taste naturally sweet. Think about the likes of other exotic fruits, even including bananas. There’s this sweetness that you can’t get from some of the most local options. And there has to be a reason papayas were dubbed the “fruit of the angels,” right?
Well, the sweetness will help to curb your cravings. You feel like you’re having something naughty when you’re really having something good for your waistline. There isn’t that crash that you get with refined sweet products, meaning that you don’t feel down and fatigued because you no longer have the sugar in your body. You’re not likely to gorge yourself on more sugary treats, so you don’t have the excess calories in your system.
You can eat papaya raw, or you can opt for it dried and in smoothies. Do watch out for dried papaya, as without the water content you will end up with more sugars. You can also end up with more sugars from juicing since you take out the fibre. However, blending into smoothies with all the pulp means that you keep the fibre you’re just at a higher risk of consuming more papaya than you would if you just ate the fruit on its own.
Your Skin is Protected from Damage
It’s not always easy keeping our bodies free from harm. Even the most natural of items harm us, such as the sun! There’s only so much of the sun’s UV rays that our skin can take, and you need to layer up with protection.
Over time, the sun’s damage can cause premature ageing, dark marks, and even cancer. Why not find a way to protect through the diet? Papaya is one of those fruits that is highly beneficial for protecting the skin.
Some of this will come from the vitamin E content. It may be low, but it is high enough to help add some repairing agents for the skin. You’ll look more youthful, and your skin is more toned. There’s also the benefit of the water content in the fruit, which helps with the production of collagen to keep the elasticity and tone.
Then let’s not forget about the antioxidants in the fruit. The sun’s damage causes problems with the skin cells and can lead to cancer. But what about all those benefits of getting rid of the free radical activity? Remember all that we just covered with the antioxidant benefits? Well, you can reduce the chances of developing skin cancer.
But the free radicals don’t just cause skin cancer. They lead to wrinkles and sagging skin. So, by reducing the activity in the body, you can keep your skin fresh and toned. You’ll reduce the chances of developing fine lines and wrinkles, so you look decades younger.
Of course, the vitamin C will help with some of the reduction in skin damage due to the sun. The vitamin will also help to reduce the signs of natural ageing.
Lycopene has also been linked to reducing the redness after exposure to the sun. The skin naturally turns red as the body tries to heal thedamage that has been done. Inflammation can occur, and in some cases, you may have burnt the layers of the skin. Lycopene has been proven in studies to show that this skin injury is kept to a minimum and reduces quickly.
You will need to use the fruit on a regular basis. The studies have shown it takes 10-12 weeks, but it can take longer.
It’s worth noting that eating too much of the fruit can cause skin discolouration. This is just to the yellow/orange of the fruit. We tend to suffer the same problem if we eat anything with too much orange or yellow colouring to it, including carrots and oranges. The skin condition is called carotenemia. It’s perfectly normal and not harmful. It will go away on its own when you stop eating high levels of beta carotene (the reason for the orange colour) from foods.
Give Your Immune System the Boost it Needs
You can never have an immune system that is too strong. With so much pollution in the world, it makes sense that we’re having to handle far more than we did in the past. Our immune systems are constantly trying to keep us going and fight off viruses and infections. Sometimes they fail, and if we’re dealing with an auto-immune disease, we end up suffering far worse.
Well, it’s time to give your immune system a little boost. You can do that with the help of papaya, thanks to all the antioxidants and vitamin C. The vitamin A will also help with the support of the system.
When you get the starts of an infection, your immune system can kick in and start fighting it off. You’ll suffer fewer symptoms, even those that are linked to the flu or the common cold.
The papaya also helps to strengthen other parts of your body, meaning your immune system doesn’t have to do as much work on a daily basis. By reducing the free radical activity—except for a small amount to help fight off bacteria—you can make sure the immune system only has to work on diseases.
If you are currently suffering from something, eating the papaya helps to keep the immune system working to its fullest potential. You lower the risk of contracting something else while the system is already at work. You can even help to improve the current issues sooner than you would without the fruit.
Control Your Diabetes and Prevent the Onset
What if you could have something sweet without affecting your diabetes? Papaya is something to start adding to your diet for this. One of the greatest things about the fruit is the sweetness without all the sugar. It’s low on the glycaemic index, which means that your body doesn’t have the glucose and then insulin response that it would with some other sweet fruits.
Too much glucose leads to too much insulin. Over time, the body gets too used to the levels of insulin, and the insulin becomes ineffective. You are putting yourself at a risk of developing Type II diabetes if you keep this up. If you already have Type II diabetes, you could find yourself needing medication to keep the condition under control.
This limits the amount of sugar you can have. You may feel disappointed that you can no longer have your sweet treats, but papaya is here to save the day.
If you are a diabetic, you will be at a higher risk of developing heart disease. Do you remember those benefits above about how papaya is good for preventing heart disease? This applies to diabetic patients, too.
Support Your Mental Health by Supporting Your Body
With all these health benefits, you’re supporting your mental health. Just think about how you feel when you’re in pain or constantly unwell? Think about how you feel when your disease or condition controls every aspect of your life?
What if you could end all that? Just how much better would you feel within yourself? The papaya helps to support your mental health.
Let’s break this down by looking back at all those health benefits.
By having a lower inflammatory response in the body, you don’t have to deal with the side effects. There’s less pain, less digestive discomfort, and your immune system is better supported. You’re not dealing with the negatives, and your whole mental mindset can remain positive. Those who are constantly ill or in pain are more likely to be depressed, especially if there’s no cure for the issue.
Then move onto the improvement to your digestive system. A poor digestive system can be extremely difficult to deal with. Not only have you having to think about what you eat, but then deal with the consequences if you get it wrong. You may struggle to pass stools or end up going the opposite way, and your life is controlled by your stool movements. Your mental health instantly suffers from this.
And then there’s the issue with your diet being controlled by your body. You may not be able to have the sweet treats that you’re craving for. The more you say no, the more you want the treats. This just ends up with you binging and feeling worse for doing that. Whether you want to lose weight or just want to focus on a healthier lifestyle, your mental health is negatively affected.
By eating more papaya, you’re getting the sweetness without the naughty side effects. You feel fuller, even if you are eating less while on your diet. You know that your overall health is better because of your healthier choices.
By just making one change to eating more papaya, your mental health is better supported. This will help to continue gaining all the other health benefits since you’re less likely to go off track with your diet.
Be Aware of the Latex in the Fruit
Something that we don’t consider is latex in the natural foods that we eat. Who would even think that papaya could contain something like this?
Well, unripe papayas do tend to have a high latex count. Even ripened papayas have some of the chemicals, regardless of the way that it has grown. So, if you do have a latex allergy, you may find that you are allergic to the fruit. If you’re not too sure, you could speak to your doctor about this. Some people only know by trying a small amount of the fruit to see how their bodies react.
If you are pregnant, you will need to make sure that your papaya is ripe. If it’s not, cook the fruit completely before you eat it. The problem with latex is that it can promote early labour.
There is a little folate in the fruit, which is beneficial to your unborn baby. Pregnant women are encouraged to get more folic acid to help support the growing nervous system, especially during the first trimester. So, you may want to add a small amount of cooked papaya to your diet, just to help with this benefit.
It can be difficult to know what’s good and bad when you get a lot of contradicting information, right? There are other more serious side effects during pregnancy, according to some research and past beliefs and uses. Eating the unripe fruit can also cause stillbirths and miscarriages. There are some reports of infant abnormalities because of too much of the latex in the fruit.
This has been noted through the centuries. Papayas were sometimes used to causes abortions in the past.
Even if you are going to have a ripe papaya, it could be best to cook it first. This will help to get rid of the latex and keep you and your baby safe.
If you are breastfeeding, there is some contradicting advice. In Asia, women are advised to eat more of the fruit, but the rest of the world encourages women to avoid the fruit completely. There are some beliefs that the latex can get into the breast milk, but there is no evidence to support this. Maybe women in Asia have it right, but until we know it could be worth completely avoiding the fruit temporarily to avoid any harm to your newborn.
There is the Risk of a Laxative Effect
Like with many fruits, especially topical ones, there is a danger if you eat too much. You could end up developing a laxative effect, which can mean you end up suffering from loose stools and some stomach discomfort.
This is only if you eat large quantities of the fruit. When consumed within a healthy diet, the average healthy person hasn’t noticed this health side effect. Those that do suffer from it find that it is in the raw and unripe form.
General advice when it comes to eating food to improve your health is to add it as part of a healthy diet. We’ve already looked into this right at the very top, but it’s always worth reiterating. The health benefits are always noted when the ingredients are used as part of a balanced diet. Everything is going to have negative side effects when you eat too much of them.
There have also been links to other digestive problems, such as renal stones. This is due to a large amount of vitamin C in the fruit. It’s worth keeping the amount you eat to a minimum, as consuming too much vitamin C is bad for you. Your body has no way of storing the vitamin C for later.
Now it’s Time to Get Papaya into Your Diet
While you know all the health benefits of papaya, it’s time to get more of the fruit into your diet. When it comes to all types of fruits, especially new ones, we tend to get a little stumped. Apart from eating it raw—whether on its own or as part of a fruit salad—just what are our options available?
Papaya is one of those fruits that can be used in so many ways. Ripe papayas tend to be better, but unripe can be great if you don’t mind a little bit of rubber or want to eat it cooked. If you’re pregnant, definitely cook it for the reasons that we’ve already discussed.
You can test the ripeness by looking at the colour and giving the fruit a feel. It should be mostly yellow, orange, and red. There may be green spots, but if there is a large green section, this is an indication that it isn’t ripe yet. Ripe papayas are also relatively soft.
Of course, one of the quickest ways to enjoy the fruit is raw and on its own. Many people choose to eat it like a melon—getting rid of the inside and eating it from the skin. Some will also chop it up and throw it with other fruits, again similarly to a melon. However, here are a few other ideas.
Make a traditional lunch salad with some tomatoes and onions, but throw in some papaya with it. You can add some cilantro and lime juice to give it a slightly more Mediterranean taste. Just make sure you mix it all well to coat all the ingredients with your lime juice.
Another salad option is to chop some papaya and avocado together. Throw that in with some chicken and use a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing to finish it off. The avocado and papaya balance each other out very well.
You can also wrap some prosciutto or ham around strips of papaya. This makes a great snack during the day, and the ham is excellent for weight loss.
If you really want to make a smoothie with it, opt for coconut milk and diced fresh fruit in a blender. You could mix this with some blueberries, but on its own is great. When making a smoothie, try adding some of the seeds in with you for more nutrients. The seeds can help to take away some of the sweetness if you prefer your smoothies a little less sweet.
Finally, you can use your papaya as a delicious and healthy dessert. Mix the fruit with some almond milk, vanilla essence and chia seeds. You can also throw in some of the papaya seeds into the mix. Just mix well and pop in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
Try Out a Papaya and See the Benefits
Now it’s time to benefit from the ways above. There are so many ways that you can improve your health with just a papaya on a regular basis. You will reduce your risk of cancer, improve your digestive system, and can reduce inflammation. Let’s not forget that you can also aid your weight loss efforts by eating more of the fruit.
The great thing about papayas is that you don’t need to go to an exotic location anymore to get one. The majority of grocery stores now have papayas throughout the year. Why not try one just to see how they taste? You definitely won’t regret it.
Whether you want something to snack on raw or you’d prefer to create a salad with a slightly different and sweet taste, the papaya is the fruit to add in.
Add papaya to a healthy and balanced diet, and you can help to avoid the downsides. Take all the health benefits while you can.