The fleshy and juicy golden yellow papaya is a fruit loaded with nutrients. It is low in calories and fat and a good source of dietary fiber. A medium-sized papaya will give you 300% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C.
However, excess of papaya can lead to certain complications. Papaya is also a fruit that may not suit all individuals. In this post, we will explore the potential side effects of papaya.
Top 13 Side Effects Of Papaya
1. May Cause Abortion
Raw papaya has been used as a natural way to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Rat studies show that consuming unripe or semi-ripe papayas could be unsafe during pregnancy (1).
While ripe papayas are considered a safer option, there are chances of raw ones triggering uterine contractions due to the presence of latex (1).
This, in turn, could cause an abortion, miscarriage, premature labor, abnormalities in the infant, and stillbirth. Papain, the enzyme present in the leaves of papaya, functions akin to oxytocin and prostaglandin (2).
These two hormones are known to induce labor and enhance contractions (2).
Pregnant women may also experience hemorrhagic placentas (3). Hence, avoid consuming raw papaya to safeguard yourself and your baby.
2. Can Cause Carotenemia
If consumed in high quantities, the beta-carotene in papaya may cause discoloration of the skin, medically known as carotenemia (4). Some anecdotal evidence also states other symptoms, like the yellowing of the eye whites, soles, and palms, similar to the symptoms of jaundice.
3. May Cause Respiratory Allergies
Papain, the enzyme present in papaya, is a powerful allergen. Excessive consumption of papaya may, therefore, trigger various respiratory disorders, such as (5):
- Obstructed breathing
- Continuous congestion of the nasal passages/chest tightness
If you have respiratory disorders, such as asthma or any allergic conditions, please exercise caution while using papaya. At times, the pollen from the flowers might stick onto the skin of the papaya.
If you are allergic, make sure you wear gloves while cleaning papaya. Discard the peel and then remove your gloves. You should also cover your nose and mouth with a towel to avoid allergic reactions.
Other allergic reactions to papaya, though rare, include the following (6):
- Itching and burning of the lips, mouth, ears, and throat
- Swelling of the tongue
- Watery eyes
- Swelling of the face
- Rashes on the floor of the mouth and tongue
These allergies are a part of oral allergy syndrome, a condition common with certain fruits, including papayas. Some believe papayas may also cause dizziness, headaches, and difficulty in swallowing in certain individuals.
4. May Increase Risk Of Renal Stones
A small papaya fruit (157 grams) is known to have 96 milligrams of vitamin C (7).
Some studies show that a high intake of vitamin C (in the form of supplements) can increase kidney stone risk in men (8). However, there is no research stating that excess intake of papayas may cause the same.
Though vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and is known to pep up your immunity and potentially safeguard you from cancer, hypertension, blood vessel disorders, and premature aging, its role in stone formation (especially through papayas) is yet to be understood.
5. May Upset The Stomach
Eating too much of papaya might upset your gastrointestinal system. This, in turn, will cause an upset stomach, characterized by stomach irritation. The high fiber content of papaya can cause unrest in the digestive system. The latex of the fruit can also be the culprit (9).
Anecdotal evidence suggests that excess papaya intake may also cause abdominal cramps, bloating, flatulence, and nausea. The fruit may also leave you with an undesirable queasiness. More research is needed to establish these factors.
6. May Not Be Safe During Breastfeeding
Women in Asia are advised to include salads packed with green papaya to improve the flow of breast milk. However, there is a contradictory version as well.
In certain other parts of the world, women who are lactating are advised against including papaya, ripe as well as unripe, in their diet.
There is no data on the safety and efficacy of papaya in breastfeeding mothers or infants (10). Some believe that the enzymes present in the fruit might have an adverse effect on the infant. Hence, check with your doctor before using papaya.
7. May Interact With Blood-Thinning Medications
Studies have proven that the latex in papaya can have the potential to escalate blood-thinning effects (11). Hence, if you are on any blood-thinning medications or anticoagulants, such as aspirin, check with your doctor to shield yourself from unwanted harsh effects.
If you have a surgery due in a few weeks, avoid this fruit due to its anticoagulant nature.
According to various researches conducted on papaya, people affected by blood clotting conditions, such as hemophilia and thrombosis, should also refrain from consuming this fiber delight. Check with your physician in case of any of the aforementioned conditions.
8. May Cause Skin Rashes
The rich presence of papain enzyme and antioxidants make papaya a sought after ingredient in anti-aging creams. However, not every skin type reacts to the topical application in a positive way.
Other reported symptoms include itchy and dry skin. A few women have reported rashes after using papaya-infused moisturizing and/or massage creams.
9. Can Be Toxic When Consumed In High Amounts
The leaves, seeds, and flesh of the papaya are abundant with carpaine, the anthelmintic alkaloid. While this chemical is effective in flushing out parasitic worms from your tummy, excess intake can cause undesirable effects. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a high intake of carpaine may cause the pulse rate to fall to dangerously low levels (potentially leading to a malfunctioning of the nervous system). However, there is not much research to back this up.
In a study, 2 grams/ kg of papaya leaf extract was found to be relatively non-toxic in rats. However, further studies are needed to understand the toxicity of papaya (14).
10. May Result In A Slower Heartbeat
It is believed that people with cardiac disorders should avoid using papaya. The papain present in this golden-orange flesh fruit is thought to slow down the rate of heartbeat in a precarious way, possibly triggering serious cardiovascular conditions. However, research is limited. If you have any cardiovascular issues, do consult your doctor before consuming papaya.
11. Can Aggravate Diarrhea
Like all other fibrous fruits, papaya may also aggravate diarrhea if consumed in large amounts. The fiber may bind with the stools and worsen the condition, leaving you at the risk of dehydration. However, more research is warranted here.
12. Can Be Unsafe For Infants Below 1 Year
No data exists in this regard (10). But people advise mothers not to feed papaya to infants below the age of 1. This could be due to the presence of fiber in abundance. Excessive fiber intake has two major negative impacts:
- It could trigger loose stools.
- Without adequate water intake, it could harden the stools, leaving the baby constipated (15).
Hence, check with your pediatrician before you give your baby this fruit in any form, raw or ripe.
13. May Cause Constipation
While papaya is known to be an effective natural remedy for constipation, excessive intake may affect your body negatively. Excess fiber intake can lead to constipation (15).
You should drink at least 10 to 12 glasses of water a day to keep constipation at bay. When your fiber intake is high, the quantity of water should also increase. Otherwise, the stools can harden, leaving you constipated.
More direct research on papaya is needed to understand how it may lead to constipation.
Papaya is a healthful fruit with important ingredients. But given its latex and high fiber content, excess intake of papaya may cause complications. Though some of the side effects of the fruit are yet to be proven, it is important you be aware of them. If you have any health condition, do consult your doctor before consuming papaya.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How much papaya can you eat in a day?
There is no exact information available on the right dosage of papaya. However, some believe that eating 150 to 200 grams of the fruit should be safe. If you have a health condition, consult your doctor for the ideal dosage for you.
Does papaya make you gassy?
Yes, it may. Excess intake could lead to bloating and the formation of stomach gas. However, there is no research to support this.
- Papaya (Carica papaya) consumption is unsafe in pregnancy: fact or fable? Scientific evaluation of a common belief in some parts of Asia using a rat model, The British Journal of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Mechanisms of the Oxytocic Activity of Papaya Proteinases, Pharmaceutical Biology.
- Review on nutritional and medicinal values of “Carica papaya”, Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry.
- Carotenemia Associated With Papaya Ingestion, California Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Papain Induced Occupational Asthma with Kiwi and Fig Allergy, Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Oral Allergy Syndrome: An Update for Stomatologists, Journal of Allergy, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Papayas, raw, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Ascorbic Acid Supplements and Kidney Stone Incidence Among Men: A Prospective Study, JAMA Internal Medicine.
- Traditional and Medicinal Uses of Carica papaya, Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies.
- Papaya, Drugs and Lactation Database, National Center for Biotechnology Information.
- Anticoagulant and antiplatelet properties of the latex of unripe fruits of Carica papaya L. (Caricaceae), ResearchGate.
- Papaya, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Preventing Allergic Reactions to Natural Rubber Latex in the Workplace, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Repeated Dose 28-Days Oral Toxicity Study of Carica papaya L. Leaf Extract in Sprague Dawley Rats, Molecules, Open Access Journals.
- Stopping or reducing dietary fiber intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms, World Journal of Gastroenterology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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