Papaya is a delicious fruit that has many health benefits because it is full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Eating papaya fruit can help to strengthen your immune system and improve your digestive health. It can also help improve your eyesight, lower cholesterol levels, and give a boost to your skin’s health. Papaya fruit is also a good source of vitamins such a vitamin C, E, and A.
Papaya seeds are also very healthy to eat and can help to kill off intestinal parasites, fight bacterial infections and even protect your kidneys. Advertisement
Apart from consuming papaya, extracts from papaya fruit, leaves and seeds can also boost your health. Papaya extracts are also full of vitamins and have been linked to managing diabetes and they may also have anticancer properties.
In this article, I will look at scientific research into the health benefits of the papaya fruit and seeds.
What Is Papaya (Pawpaw)?
Papaya (Carica papaya) is a large pear shaped fruit that grows in tropical climates. In some countries, papaya is also called pawpaw or papaw.
Papaya is a fleshy fruit with soft pulp and it has different colors that vary from yellow to red.
Papaya fruit is usually a bright orange color and ripe papaya tastes like sweet melon. A ripe papaya has a slightly sweet smell. If the papaya doesn’t have scent, it’s not ripe yet, however if it has a strong sweet smell, it’s overripe.
You can also eat papaya seeds. The black seeds from the papaya are in a gelatinous substance in the middle of the fruits. Papaya seeds have a peppery, sometimes bitter, taste to them.
There are many ways that you can consume papaya or pawpaw. You can eat papaya fruit raw, extract juice from papaya, or use papaya seeds in salads or delicious smoothies. You know when papaya fruit is ready to eat when it feels slightly soft and the skin has a reddish-orange look.
Papaya Nutrition Facts
Papaya is a fruit that is rich in vitamin C and because of that, it is a healthy addition to your diet. In fact, one cup of mashed papaya fruit (140 g) contains over 230% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C! (1)
The high content of vitamin A in papaya fruit can help to offset vitamin A deficiencies.
Vitamin A and vitamin C are both powerful antioxidants, so the ‘fruit of the angels’, as Christopher Columbus called it, destroys free radicals in the body – the villains behind many chronic diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
There are 43 calories in 100 g of papaya. One small papaya (weighing 157 g) has 68 calories. One big papaya (weighing 781 g) has 336 calories. (2)
Papaya also contains many vitamins and minerals that make it a very healthy fruit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that 100 g of papaya contains the following: (2)
- 60 mg vitamin C
- 950 IU vitamin A (22% RDI)
- 37 mcg folate (10% RDI)
- 24 mg calcium
- 257 mg potassium
- 10 mg magnesium
- 25 mg omega-3 fatty acids
- 7 g dietary fiber (7% RDI)
Papaya fruit and extracts also contain important compounds that have medicinal benefits. For example, papaya contains a compound called papain which has been linked to digestive health and it also has anticancer properties. (3, 32) Advertisement
Papaya seeds have anti parasitic properties and they have been shown to inhibit cancer. (4)
Benefits of Papaya
Let’s look in more detail that the many benefits you can get from eating more papaya fruit or using papaya on your skin.
Consuming Papaya Can Help to Boost Digestion
Eating more papaya fruit and seeds can have a beneficial effect on your digestive system.
Like all fruits and vegetables, papaya contains fiber that is essential for healthy digestion and to prevent constipation. It also contains an enzyme called papain that helps digestion. The high vitamin and nutrient content of papaya also keeps your body healthy. However, it seems that papaya also contains compounds that specifically improve digestive health.
One study focused on the use of a commercial product that contains extracts of papaya fruit and seeds. The participants in the study took 20 ml papaya extract for 40 days. Researchers found that most people experienced fewer symptoms like heartburn, excess gas, constipation, and bloating. (19)
To keep your bowels happy and moving, your diet should be rich in dietary fiber. Papaya has loads of fiber, and one serving can satisfy a quarter of your daily recommended intake.
Please read this article to find out 8 more ways improve your digestion.
Papaya Fruit is Rich in Antioxidants
One of the most important health benefits of papaya is that it is full of antioxidants. In fact, both the pulp from papaya fruit and the seeds have powerful antioxidants.
The British Journal of Nutrition reported that papaya fruit contains more carotenoids than tomatoes or carrots.
Carotenoids are antioxidants linked to good health, preventing disease, improving eye health, and cancer prevention. Researchers recommend a diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables containing carotenoids. (6)
A study compared the amounts of carotenoids in papaya, tomatoes, and carrots. It was found that the body adsorbed carotenoids easier from papaya than the other vegetables. (5)
Papaya also contains an important antioxidant called lycopene. Consuming papaya fruit helps to prevent oxidative stress and, therefore, protect against many chronic diseases. (7)
Researchers have found that extracts of papaya seeds are also an important source of antioxidants and vitamin C. (8)
Papaya Can Strengthen Your Immune System
Strengthening your immune system is another great reason to eat papaya and include the peppery papaya seeds in your diet.
One trial found that eating papaya fruit increased immune cell function in the body. Researchers noted that after consuming papaya, there was a marked increase in white blood cells which play an important role in the immune system. (9)
A study on rats found that papaya extracts boosted their immune system. For example, researchers found that levels of glutathione increased. (10) Glutathione is an important antioxidant that helps to strengthen the immune system.
To learn about other ways of preventing infection, please read my article on ways to instantly boost your immune system.
Papaya Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Papaya fruit can also help prevent chronic diseases from developing because it contains properties that reduce inflammation. Advertisement
In general, eating more fruits and vegetables help to lower the body’s inflammatory responses. But, it seems that papaya is especially effective in alleviating inflammatory conditions.
Research has shown that papaya stimulates certain cells in the body that have an anti-inflammatory effect. (11) Also, other studies have shown that carotenoid-rich fruits like papaya release proteins that help to lower inflammatory responses in the body. (12)
Please read my other article for more information on foods that can lower inflammation.
Papaya Can Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
An important benefit of consuming more fresh papaya fruit is that it helps to keep your cardiovascular system healthy.
One study involving adolescents found that compounds in papaya have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system. The study found that antioxidants in papaya like lycopene help to prevent cardiovascular disease. (13)
Other studies on rats have shown that extracts from papaya fruit increase beneficial enzymes in the blood that help to lower blood pressure and reduce oxidative stress. These results had an overall protective effect on the cardiovascular system. (14)
One study found that drinking papaya juice could help to significantly lower blood pressure. (15)
Papaya Can Benefit Your Skin
The high levels of antioxidants and vitamins in papaya fruit mean that papaya is an excellent skin care product. For example, papaya contains vitamins A, C, and E – all of which are used in many skincare products.
Dermatologists report that papaya contains lycopene and beta-carotene (β-carotene). Consuming fruits and vegetables containing these antioxidants help to boost the production of collagen in the skin. (16)
Another study in 2016 on humans found that consuming fermented papaya extract supplement helped to improve the skin’s elasticity. The study also found that skin was generally better hydrated and had less appearance of fine lines. When compared with other antioxidant supplements, papaya supplements were more effective. (17)
Papaya Help Wounds Heal Quicker
Because papaya has such a wonderful effect on your skin, it is no wonder that papaya can help wounds to heal quicker.
Papaya also contains the enzymes chymopapain and papain that could help your skin heal faster. In fact, papaya is currently used as a major component in burns dressings. (33)
Papaya contains many antioxidants that promote wound healing. However, one study showed that papaya fruit and seeds also have antibacterial properties. A paste of mashed papaya fruit and ground seeds helped to prevent bacterial infections when applied to open wounds. (18)
The researchers suggested that applying skin preparations containing papaya could help to treat chronic skin ulcers.
Eating Papaya Fruit Can Strengthen Bones
Including more papaya as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet can help strengthen bones and may prevent osteoporosis. Advertisement
One study from 2017 on over 3,000 adults (men and women) found that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can benefit bone health. Among the fruits scientists found to be the best for boosting bone health were papayas, citrus fruits, apples, bananas, and mangoes. (20)
Osteoporosis is a common problem in the menopause. Please read my other article to learn about other ways to prevent osteoporosis.
Papaya Can Protect Your Eyesight
Papaya fruit can help protect your eyesight because it contains lutein, beta-carotene, and vitamin A. All of these antioxidants have been connected with protecting eyesight, especially in advanced age.
In a review of necessary nutrients to protect eyesight in advanced age, researchers found that papaya is a rich source of eyesight-protecting antioxidants. The researchers found that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits like papaya can protect against macular degeneration (an eye disease that causes vision loss). (31)
The journal Clinical Interventions in Aging reported that papaya has many important nutrients to prevent age-related eye diseases. Papaya benefits your eyesight because it contains nutrients that are important for your vision such as vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, zinc, and zeaxanthin. (32)
There are other foods that can protect your eyesight.
Papaya Can Reduce Symptoms Related to Diabetes
You can also use extracts from the papaya plant to help reduce the symptoms of diabetes.
Research on rats found that papaya leaf extract preparations were able to significantly lower blood glucose levels. The study revealed that the leaf extracts of papaya also lowered cholesterol and increased levels of antioxidants in diabetic subjects. (21)
Interestingly, researchers also noted that the papaya leaf extracts improved liver and pancreas function in all subjects.
Papaya Leaf Extracts Can Increase Red Blood Cell Count (RBC)
Extracts from papaya leaves also have a positive effect on blood and can increase the number of red blood cells.
Scientists observed the effect of fresh papaya leaf extract on mice. They discovered that, in a 3-week period, papaya helped to increase platelet and red blood cell count. They summarized that papaya leaf extract could be used to treat conditions that result in fewer than normal red blood cells. (22)
Papaya Extracts Have an Anticancer Effect
Extracts of the papaya plant have an anticancer effect and may prove useful in helping to treat certain types of cancer.
Labs experiments found that pectin (a soluble dietary fiber) extracted from papaya fruit has anticancer properties. (24)
It’s important to remember that current research on using papaya as a cancer treatment is in early stages. Most research involves using specific extracts of papaya was done in laboratory conditions.
The Benefits of Papaya Seeds and How to Use Them
When you cut a papaya, the insides look very inviting, and the seeds can easily be scooped out.
Papaya seeds are high in fat and protein, and contain plenty of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Advertisement
Think twice before you discard them, as they can be used in many ways.
The seeds have a distinct, slightly peppery flavor. They can be eaten as they are, or you can sprinkle them over salads and other dishes, just as you would use pumpkin seeds. Those who are not afraid of the spicy flavor, can try them in a smoothie.
Papaya seeds also have many health benefits.
Papaya Seed Extracts Can Kill Off Intestinal Parasites
One of the many medicinal uses of papaya seeds is to eliminate intestinal parasites (anthelmintic and anti-amoebic properties).
One study on the use of dried papaya seed extracts found that they were effective in treating human parasites. Children who had intestinal parasitic infections took 20 ml of papaya seed extract per day. After 7 days results showed that around 71% of the children no longer showed signs of parasites. (26)
Please read my other article to learn about other natural ways of getting rid of intestinal parasites.
Seeds of Papaya Can Help to Treat Gastric Ulcers
Papaya seeds can also help treat gastric ulcers because they have a protective effect on the stomach lining.
A 2015 study on rats found that papaya seed extracts were effective in treating gastric ulcers. The results of the study showed that the seed extract of papaya reduced ulcers by up to 84%. Papaya seed extract also stimulated mucus production in the stomach which also reduced levels of stomach acid. (27)
Please read my article on how to reduce stomach acid naturally to find out other ways to reduce a sensation of stomach burning after a meal.
Papaya Seeds Help Fight Bacterial Infections
Extracts from papaya seeds also have antibacterial activity and can help fight certain bacterial infections.
One study published in 2014 found that extracts of papaya seeds and papaya leaves can kill off certain bacterial pathogens. For example, papaya extracts were effective against strains of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli, and Salmonella typhi. (28)
This means that eating some papaya seeds daily can not only improve your digestion but also help prevent gastrointestinal infections.
Papaya Seeds Can Help Protect Kidney Function
The antioxidant effect of papaya fruit and papaya seeds can help to protect your kidneys against kidney damage.
One trial on rats showed that papaya seed extracts helped to protect kidney function. After 8 days in the trial, blood test results showed that papaya seed extract prevented damage to kidneys. (29)
Papaya Seeds Have Antifungal Activity
Extracts from papaya seeds can help to kill off fungal infections in the body.
Researchers found that components isolated from papaya seeds are effective enough to destroy strains of Candida albicans and other types of fungus. (30)
Candida infections can occur in the body when there is an imbalance of healthy bacteria in your gut. This can cause various symptoms including vaginal thrush, oral thrush, and itching around the genitals.
Please read this article to learn about more ways to get rid of a candida infection naturally.
Digestive Enzyme Smoothie Recipe
This is one of my favorite smoothies that has many health benefits. This smoothie consists of pineapple and papaya which contain digestive enzymes that help ease digestion.
Papaya and pineapple enzymes digest proteins, and because of their protein dissolving properties, it is no wonder that pineapple and papaya juices work wonderfully as meat tenderizers.
Nowadays people consume in their diet a large amount of meat and plant protein, and we don’t have enough enzymes needed to digest them properly. Although our body produces many enzymes needed for digestion, we also depend on our food to provide the rest.
These enzymes can be found in large quantity in raw foods, but because we consume processed foods in excess amounts, we lack the quantity necessary to enable healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Here comes the detox smoothie with papaya and pineapple: papaya enzymes are called papain and are extracted from the leaves and fruit of the papaya plant. Pineapple enzymes are called bromelain, and can be found in all parts of the fresh plant and fruit.
Both enzymes are reputed to provide a wide variety of health benefits. Bromelain and papain are traditionally used for their anti-inflammatory properties and are consumed orally and topically for minor skin irritations or burns.
The papain also acts as a diuretic, and has anti-microbial and anti-ulcerative properties. As such, papaya enzymes are believed to help relieve a variety of gastrointestinal complaints, as well as stomach ulcers and pancreatic enzyme deficiency.
Pineapple enzymes are also used to treat digestive problems, as well as heartburn.
The plain bio yogurt in this recipe also aids digestion as it contains “friendly bacteria” that are naturally present in the digestive system, and can help boost the immune system and promote a healthy digestive tract.
Now let’s get to the detox smoothie recipe:
2 slices pineapple
1/2 papaya, cubed
2 tablespoons plain bio yogurt
1/2 lemon (optional)
1 sprig of mint
Put all the ingredients in a blender and whiz until smooth. You can add a little bit of water if you want a thinner consistency. Enjoy this detox smoothie after any meal to help your digestive system do its important role.
Enjoy your next papaya experience!
Side Effects of Eating Papaya
Papaya is a natural fruit that is high in vitamin C and other beneficial nutrients. Consuming more papaya fruit in your diet rarely causes an adverse effects.
Doctors on WebMD say that consuming papaya for medicinal purposes shouldn’t cause any side effects. However, some people may develop allergic reactions. Papaya latex may also irritate your skin. (31)
Fermented papaya supplements can lower blood glucose levels. You should consult with your doctor before taking papaya supplements for their health benefits.