39 Surprising Benefits Of Papaya For Skin, Hair, And Health

Reviewed By Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Written by Tanya Choudhary , ISSA Certified Specialist In Fitness & Nutrition

I don’t know about you, but if there is one fruit that I can hog in any season, it is the papaya. Not apples. Not grapes. Not even bananas. It’s papaya. And there is a reason. In fact, there are many. Benefits of papaya includes managing weight and high blood pressure and even help prevent diabetes. Did you know that a small papaya contains about 300% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C? But that’s not the mind-blowing stuff.

The mind-blowing stuff… Well, read on and find out why you need to incorporate these ‘fruits of angels’ in your daily schedule.

What Is Papaya?

Image: Shutterstock

Scientific Name – Carica papaya
Origin – Central America and Southern Mexico
Other Names – Fruit of the Angels (by Christopher Columbus), Papita (Hindi), Boppayi Pandu (Telugu), Pappali (Tamil), Omakaya (Malayalam), Pappayi Hannu (Kannada), Papaiya (Gujarati), and Papai (Marathi)

Native to the tropical areas of Central America and Southern Mexico, papayas have slowly and steadily attained popularity all around the world. They are used in a number of forms – ripe, unripe, and dried.

Papaya Properties

  • High In Fiber – Papaya is a great source of dietary fiber (1). This nutrient absorbs toxins in the colon that can cause cancer and eliminates them from the body through bowel movements. Fibers from fruit and vegetables like papaya can nourish the beneficial communities of microorganisms within your body. Due to its rich fiber content, papaya aids digestion and imparts a beautiful glow to your skin from its enzymes.
  • Rich In Vitamins And Minerals – Papaya contains abundant amounts of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant (2). It also aids wound healing, can reduce the risk of cancer due to oxidative stress, and boosts your immunity to fight common ailments such as cold and cough. This fruit is also replete with vitamin A and minerals like phosphorus, iron, potassium, copper, manganese, calcium, and magnesium. Vitamin A is required to maintain healthy vision while phosphorus is needed for good heart health.
  • Rich In Antioxidants – The antioxidants present in papaya may help to strengthen immunity and eliminate free radicals that are hazardous to your health. This fruit contains more amount of beta-carotene than in carrots by weight.
  • Abundant In Bioflavonoids – Also known as vitamin P, bioflavonoids are semi-essential nutrients that work as nature’s modifiers and respond to biological changes in the body. The bioflavonoids in papaya modify the reaction of the body to viruses, carcinogens, and allergens, thereby protecting it from harmful and life-threatening diseases.

So, this was about medicinal properties of papaya fruit, now learn what are the benefits of papaya for your overall health.

Note: Consult a dermatologist before using papaya for your skin and/or hair .

What Is Papaya Good For?

Skin Benefits

  1. Moisturizes Skin
  2. Clears Pigmentation
  3. Reduces Wrinkles
  4. Reduces Under-Eye Dark Circles
  5. Helps Treat Eczema And Psoriasis
  6. Treats Melasma
  7. Removes Tan
  8. Controls Acne Breakout

Hair Benefits

  1. Stimulates Hair Growth
  2. Controls Dandruff
  3. Conditions Hair

Health Benefits

    1. Promotes Cardiovascular Health
    2. Prevents Macular Degeneration
    3. Boosts Immunity
    4. Heals Wounds
    5. Aids Digestion
    6. Has Anticancer Effects
    7. Prevents Arthritis
    8. Reduce Inflammation In The Lungs
    9. Treats Throat Disorders
    10. Treatment For Ringworm
    11. Helps In Muscle Tissue Renewal
    12. Activates Human Growth Hormones
    13. Helps Ease Menstrual Pain
    14. Helps Reduce Stress
    15. Aids Weight Loss
    16. Good For Diabetics
    17. Treats Piles
    18. Cures Vitiligo
    19. Prevents Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
    20. Treats Nausea And Motion Sickness
    21. Helps Increase Platelet Count
    22. Keeps Blood Pressure Under Control
    23. Used For Birth Control
    24. Good For Babies
    25. Good For Pregnant Women
    26. Treats Gout
    27. Helps Increase Lactation

Benefits Of Papaya For Skin

Papaya can improve your complexion courtesy of the active enzymes present in it, like papain. It helps reduce pigmentation and controls acne breakouts and wrinkle formation. Read on to know the best papaya benefits for skin:

1. Moisturizes Skin

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Papaya can be a boon for those with dry skin. Using a papaya face pack can make your skin soft and supple. The enzymes present in papaya can assist in treating dry and flaky skin and hydrate it (3).

What You Need
  • 1 tablespoon mashed papaya
  • 1 teaspoon honey
What You Have To Do

1. Mix the papaya and the honey.
2. Apply the mask to your face. Keep it on for 30 minutes.
3. Rinse with cold water.

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2. Clears Pigmentation

If a bout of acne has left you with scars, or if you are suffering from uneven pigmentation, papaya can come to your rescue. Papaya has skin lightening properties that help clear blemishes and pigmentation (4). Also, the beta-carotene, enzymes, and phytochemicals present in papaya help promote fairness. The enzyme papain, along with with the alpha-hydroxy acids, acts as a powerful exfoliator and dissolves inactive proteins and dead skin cells (6). This, in turn, can make your skin lighter and softer.

What You Need
  • 1 tablespoon papaya juice
  • Cotton balls
What You Have To Do

1. Soak the cotton balls in the papaya juice.
2. Apply this to the affected areas.
3. Keep it on for 15 minutes and rinse with cold water.

You can also make your skin tone lighter by using the method below:

What You Need
  • 1/4 cup papaya pulp
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
What You Have To Do

1. Mash the papaya pulp to make a lump-free puree.
2. Add lemon juice and honey to the mix and blend well.
3. Wash your face and pat it dry.
4. Apply this paste as a face mask and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Use lukewarm water to gently wipe off the mask.
6. Rinse with cold water and pat dry.
7. Follow this process once a week for fair skin.

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3. Reduces Wrinkles

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Papaya peel can help reduce the signs of aging. Some claim it to be as effective as Retin-A. The peel contains enzymes that remove dead cells from the surface of the skin (5). This helps remove wrinkles and age spots.

What You Need

Papaya peel

What You Have To Do

1. Rub the papaya peel all over your face and neck.
2. After 20 minutes, rinse with cold water.

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4. Reduces Under-Eye Dark Circles

Using green papaya pulp on dark circles is a good way to get rid of them. Since it is a natural bleaching agent, green papaya helps erase skin discoloration.

What You Need

1/4 cup mashed green papaya

What You Have To Do

1. Apply the mashed paste on your dark circles and leave it on for at least 10 minutes.
2. Rub your skin gently with your fingertips and then wipe the paste off with a clean cloth.
3. Wash with lukewarm water.
4. Do this daily to banish those dark circles.

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5. Helps Treat Eczema And Psoriasis

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Our ancestors used papaya to heal scars, burns, and skin diseases.

As discussed earlier, the enzyme papain in papaya exfoliates dead skin cells to cure skin impurities (7). When mashed and applied directly on the affected area, raw papaya can help prevent itching and redness. You can also have a glassful of papaya milk daily to assist in the treatment of skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis.

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6. Treats Melasma

Papaya can help treat melasma due to its exfoliating properties. Apply ripe or unripe papaya on pigmented skin to make it smooth and supple and impart an even skin tone.

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7. Removes Tan

This exotic fruit contains vitamins A and C in abundance. In combination with papain, they help lighten your skin (8). Use the below method to get rid of that annoying tan within a few uses:

What You Need
  • 4 cubes ripe papaya
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey
What You Have To Do

1. Mash the raw papaya cubes.
2. Add turmeric powder and honey.
3. Mix well to form a thick paste.
4. Apply it on your clean face evenly and leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes.
5. Wash it off with lukewarm water.
6. Use this paste once a week for healthy and glowing skin.

[ Read: Home Remedies To Remove Tan Permanently ]

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8. Controls Acne Breakout

Papaya treats acne and prevents future breakouts as well.

Again, the proteolytic enzyme papain makes papaya an effective treatment for acne (9). Apart from the fruit itself, the leaves, skin, and seeds also contain certain enzymes that can diminish scars and blemishes.

Use the thick and even pulp of a ripe papaya as a face mask and leave it on for 15-20 minutes. Wash this paste with cold water. With regular application, you will notice a marked difference.

Note: You can also use the juice of raw papaya on the acne affected area to reduce inflammation and soothe soreness caused by acne.

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Papaya Benefits For Hair

Use papaya to foster hair health. Keep reading to know the amazing papaya fruit benefits for hair:

9. Stimulates Hair Growth

Image: Shutterstock

One of the little-known benefits of papaya.

Papaya has folic acid that helps improves circulation to the hair follicles and promotes hair growth (10).

Include papaya in your meals and get ready to flaunt long and healthy hair.

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10. Controls Dandruff

One of the best papaya seeds benefits is that it can help reduce dandruff when used in a hair pack.

One of the main causes of dandruff is a fungal infection. The antifungal properties of papaya seeds help in controlling and preventing dandruff (11).

What You Need

½ papaya with the seeds intact

What You Have To Do

1. Peel the papaya and blend the pulp and the seeds to make a smooth paste.
2. Massage the paste into your scalp and apply it to the rest of your hair as well.
3. Leave it on for one hour and then shampoo as usual.

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11. Conditions Hair

Papaya can restore the life of your hair and make it soft and hydrated.

Due to its high vitamin A content, papaya promotes the production of sebum (12). Sebum is your body’s natural oil, and its production keeps your hair conditioned.

What You Need
  • ½ ripe papaya
  • ½ cup yogurt
What You Have To Do

1. Remove the skin and the seeds of the papaya and blend till a smooth paste is formed.
2. Add yogurt to the papaya paste and mix well.
3. Apply this mixture to your hair, starting from the roots to the very ends.
4. Keep it on for an hour and rinse using a mild shampoo.

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Health Benefits Of Papaya

Did you know that there are a host of papaya health benefits to your heart, memory, digestive system, and eyes? Here’s how this amazing fruit can help you:

12. Promotes Cardiovascular Health

Papaya is one of the healthiest fruits available, and it can help keep your heart healthy.

This exotic fruit is rich in vitamins A and C. They help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, which stops it from clogging the blood vessels (13). This helps reduce the risk of heart attacks.

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13. Prevents Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the gradual loss of vision that usually affects the elderly. Papaya can help stop this loss in vision.

Papaya has an antioxidant called zeaxanthin that filters out rays that harm the retinas (14). This reduces the risk of macular degeneration.

Additionally, papayas contain vitamin A and flavonoids like beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, and lutein. These keep the mucus membranes in the eyes healthy and protect them from damage (23).

So, it is a good idea to have a papaya daily to potentially improve your vision.

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14. Boosts Immunity

Do you often fall sick? It is possible that you have low immunity.

No worries, eating papayas can boost your immune system.

Papaya is rich in antioxidants that scavenge the free radicals that have a negative impact on your immune system (15). This should theoretically boost your immunity (along with adequate sleep, exercise, hydration, stress management, and overall diet quality).

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15. Heals Wounds

Applying crushed papaya seeds to wounds can help in their faster healing.

Papaya seeds show significant antimicrobial activity that helps kill the bacteria in the wound and promotes faster healing (16).

The juice you get from green papayas is a wonderful natural remedy to prevent swelling and pus formation when applied to wounds.

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16. Aids Digestion

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Papaya can help keep your digestive system healthy. In folk medicine, it was used to treat all kinds of stomach ailments, including indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, and stomach ulcers.

Papaya is a rich source of dietary fiber, which is very good for your digestive system (17). Also, as explained earlier, papaya contains a protein-dissolving enzyme called papain that eases many stomach ailments and aids digestion.

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17. Has Anticancer Effects

Studies show that papaya seed extracts can have chemotherapeutic effects.

Papaya seeds are rich in flavonoids that can reduce the risk of cancer by arresting the development of cancerous cells (18).

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18. Prevents Arthritis

Arthritis is a painful disorder that causes inflammation in the joints.

Papaya has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the pain that results from arthritis (19).

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19. Reduce Inflammation In The Lungs

Smokers, both active and passive, can develop lung inflammation. Papayas have vitamin A that can help prevent and reduce this inflammation, though anyone who smokes should seek help to quit.

Drink a glass of papaya juice if you experience bouts of coughing.

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20. Treats Throat Disorders

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When green papaya juice is mixed with honey, it can help reduce the inflammation of tonsils – a symptom of diphtheria and other problems related to the throat. It helps dissolve the membrane and prevents the spread of infection.

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21. Treatment For Ringworm

Papaya milk contains carotene, and this compound, if consumed daily, can help treat ringworm infection (21), along with traditional medical interventions. Thanks to papaya milk’s anti-inflammatory properties, it eases inflammation and redness caused by the infection.

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22. Helps In Muscle Tissue Renewal

Papaya milk not only revitalizes your body but also helps in the renewal of muscle tissues. This is because it is a rich source of protein, which is required for optimal muscle health and repair.

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23. Activates Human Growth Hormones

Papaya nourishes the endocrine system and promotes the production of arginine in the body. Arginine is a type of essential amino acid that is known to activate the human growth hormones (HGH) (22). These hormones play a key role in rebuilding bones, muscles, skin, and liver cells, and promote overall cell rejuvenation.

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24. Helps Ease Menstrual Pain

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While menstruation is a natural process and a part of every woman’s life, the painful cramps Aunt Flo brings along every month can leave you tossing and turning in bed until the pain goes away. Over the counter drugs can help to a certain extent, but they can mess with your menstrual cycle when taken on a regular basis. Hence, I suggest you opt for a natural solution like papayas.

Papayas are often recommended to those who have painful and irregular periods.

The papain enzyme helps regulate and ease the flow of blood during menstruation. Papaya also stimulates the production of estrogen, thereby helping to assist in normalizing the period cycle (24).

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25. Helps Reduce Stress

We all face stress on a daily basis in different areas of our life – relationships, work, kids, etc. Having a plateful of papayas can help reduce stress. This sweet fruit contains active enzymes as well as vitamin C that can help restore your energy levels.

Several studies have shown that our body needs about 200 mg of vitamin C to regulate the flow of stress hormones, and one large papaya contains a whopping 476 mg vitamin C!

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26. Aids Weight Loss

Looking for a natural and effective way to lose weight? Snack on a bowl of papayas.

How many calories in papaya? Well, 100 grams of papaya contains only 43 calories – making it an ideal weight loss food. The fiber content in papaya will make you feel full and may regulate bowel movements. This may facilitate weight loss. The presence of powerful antioxidants can contribute to inflammation control, and obesity is associated with inflammation (25).

[ Read: Papaya Diet – How Papaya Aids Weight Loss ]

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27. Good For Diabetics

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Papaya can be an amazing option for those who have diabetes since it is low in sugar (only 8.3 grams in a cup of diced papaya) (26). It is ideally consumed alongside some fat and protein to attenuate a glycemic response

Many studies have concluded that papaya extract can actually slow down the development of type-II diabetes, where the pancreas completely loses its ability to make and secrete insulin.

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28. Treats Piles

Hemorrhoids (also called piles) are swollen and inflamed veins that are found in and around the rectum or anus.

Having papayas on a regular basis may soothe the swollen blood vessels in that area, offering relief from those painful hemorrhoids.

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29. Cures Vitiligo

Approximately 1.5% of the world’s population is suffering from vitiligo – a condition where white patches appear on the skin. Papayas are one of the most effective home remedies to help mediatevitiligo.

Applying a paste of ripe papaya on the affected area will boost the melanin production, helping skin to restore to its normal color.

You can also consume papaya juice to aid the internal healing of vitiligo.

Note: You can use papaya juice instead of mashed papaya. It will be less messy to apply and easier to wash off.

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30. Prevents Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Papayas contain 12% fiber, with 60% of it being soluble fiber. This soluble fiber can help prevent the symptoms of IBS.

Papayas are also rich in a number of proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes that aid proper bowel movements (27).

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31. Treats Nausea And Motion Sickness

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Papaya is beneficial for pregnant women when it is consumed in small quantities. It can help ease morning sickness, nausea, and motion sickness due to the presence of vitamins C and E and folate (28).

Note: Even though a small portion is unlikely to cause harm, consult your doctor before taking papaya for nausea and morning sickness if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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32. Helps Increase Platelet Count

Consuming papaya and papaya leaf juice can help increase the platelet count of those suffering from dengue fever.

Use papaya plant in the following ways to cure dengue:

  • Have papaya salad, or have a glass of fresh papaya juice with a dash of lemon juice twice or thrice a day.
  • You can also extract fresh juice from papaya leaves using a mortar and pestle. Drink two tablespoons of it twice a day for aiding recovery.

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33. Keeps Blood Pressure Under Control

Touted to be one of the ‘silent killers’, high blood pressure can be caused due to lifestyle and dietary factors like high sodium intake and less or no physical activity. Low levels of potassium in the body also lead to high blood pressure. 100 grams of papaya contains 182 mg of potassium, which is an essential mineral to keep your blood pressure under control (30).

Potassium counteracts the effects of sodium, thus ruling out the chances of a sudden hike in the blood pressure.

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34. Used For Birth Control

Papaya fruit and seeds have been used as a form of birth control since ages, especially in the Indian subcontinent and some parts of Southeast Asia.

Women consume a large quantity of unripe green papaya to avoid pregnancy across the globe. It is also known to cause abortion when directly applied to the uterus.

Of course, papaya alone is not an effective birth control. Consult your physician to determine the ideal birth control method(s) for you.

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35. Good For Babies

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This easily digestible fruit is also considered to be good for babies, which is why it is one of the first foods introduced to them (31). It is usually introduced to infants when they are 7 to 8 months old.

Papaya assists proper bowel movement and keeps babies healthy and happy.

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36. Good For Pregnant Women

As explained earlier, papaya is considered to be nourishing for pregnant women due to its high vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate content, but only when taken in moderate quantities (31). It helps relieve acidity, heartburn, constipation, and several other stomach disorders and promotes the growth of the fetus (32).

Many women consume a tonic made of ripe papaya, milk, and honey. This mixture is a rich source of nutrients for pregnant women and lactating mothers.

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37. Treats Gout

Gout is caused by the accumulation of uric acid in the blood. This excess acid forms crystals, inducing swelling, redness, and pain in the joints.

Papaya may aid in symptom relief to treat gout. Papain is an enzyme found in papaya that is a natural anti-inflammatory agent (33).

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38. Helps Increase Lactation

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Lactating mothers may want to include raw papaya – a galactagogue – in their diets to improve breast milk production (34).

Raw papayas also act as sedatives and can help you relax and feed the baby with more calm.

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Papaya Nutrition Facts

Check out here the nutritional value of papaya in detail.

NutrientUnitValue per 100 gcup 1″ pieces
cup, mashed
fruit, small
fruit, large
Total lipid (fat)g0.260.380.600.412.03
Carbohydrate, by differenceg10.8215.6924.8916.9984.50
Fiber, total dietaryg1.
Sugars, totalg7.8211.3417.9912.2861.07
Calcium, Camg20294631156
Iron, Femg0.250.360.580.391.95
Magnesium, Mgmg21304833164
Phosphorus, Pmg1014231678
Potassium, Kmg1822644192861421
Sodium, Namg812181362
Zinc, Znmg0.
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg60.988.3140.195.6475.6
Vitamin B-6mg0.0380.0550.0870.0600.297
Folate, DFEµg37548558289
Vitamin B-12µg0.
Vitamin A, RAEµg476810874367
Vitamin A, IUIU9501378218514927420
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)mg0.300.440.690.472.34
Vitamin D (D2 + D3)µg0.
Vitamin DIU00000
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)µg2.
Fatty acids, total saturatedg0.0810.1170.1860.1270.633
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg0.0720.1040.1660.1130.562
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg0.0580.0840.1330.0910.453
Fatty acids, total transg0.0000.0000.0000.0000.000

Selection And Storage

Benefits Of Papaya

Image: Shutterstock

Papaya ripens even after it has been plucked. If it has reddish-orange skin, it means it is ripe, and should be consumed within a few days. Papaya that has yellow tinges on the skin needs a few more days to ripen.

Ripe papayas should be stored in the refrigerator. Once they have been sliced, they should be consumed within a day or two.

A Word Of Caution

Though there are plenty of benefits of eating papaya, listed below are a few points you should keep in mind before consuming papayas:

  • Papaya is considered to be safe when consumed in moderate amounts. Consuming large amounts of it can damage the esophagus (35).
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid consuming excessive papaya. Papaya contains unprocessed papain and high latex content that may poison the fetus, stimulate contractions, or cause congenital disabilities.
  • Papaya can also cause allergic reactions in some people, which might due to papain or the latex.
  • Diabetics and hypoglycemics should avoid consuming fermented papaya as it can reduce blood sugar.
  • Those using anti-blood clotting medication should consult their doctor before having papaya as it may interact with those medicines.
  • Avoid consuming the black seeds of papaya as they contain traces of an enzyme carpine – a potentially toxic substance. Its overconsumption can cause paralysis or cardiac depression.

Now you know how to eat papaya in a healthy way. Add papaya to your diet, and enjoy all it has to offer. This easily available fruit can do wonders for you. If you are aware of any other benefits of papaya, please share them with us in the comments section below.

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Monica Auslander Moreno

(MS, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist)
Monica Auslander Moreno is the lead dietitian for a group dietitian practice (Essence Nutrition) in Miami. Her practice provides both... more