While you may or may not like the taste of papaya, you should be aware of the several important ways papaya benefits your health and immunity.
There are certain fruits and vegetables in nature that nourish you from within and help you alleviate certain common health concerns.
Papaya is one such fruit that has significant benefits whether eaten raw, ripe or cooked.
One small papaya contains about 300% of the recommended daily value of the immune-boosting vitamin C.
It is also rich in beta-carotene and antioxidants that protect your body from free radical damage and boost your immunity and skin and hair health.
What Is Papaya?
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.
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 .
Benefits of Papaya for Skin and Hair
More than just a delicious fruit, papaya is a source of nutrients with a number of health benefits.
According to a 2013 paper, the many benefits of papaya can be attributed to the high content of vitamins A, B, and C. Its proteolytic enzymes, such as papain and chymopapain also have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
Papayas have gained popularity as a natural home treatment, and for their use in skin and hair products. Their benefits vary and are summarized in the table below.
|Skin benefits||Hair benefits|
|acne control||hair growth|
|melasma treatment||dandruff prevention|
Papaya is rich in antioxidants, such as lycopene, that may defend against the visible signs of aging.
A 2015 study indicated that much of the skin damage and wrinkling that occurs with aging can be attributed to excessive free radical activity.
According to a later study, these antioxidants can help fight free radical damage which may help your skin remain smooth and youthful.
Papaya may also help improve the elasticity of your skin according to 2012 research on rats. This improvement in skin elasticity could minimize the appearance of wrinkles.
A 2014 study of older women who consumed a mixture of antioxidants including vitamin C and lycopene, had a measurable reduction in the depth of facial wrinkles.
The enzymes papain and chymopapain in papaya can decrease inflammation. The protein-dissolving papain can be found in many exfoliating products. These products help reduce acne by removing dead skin cells that can clog pores.
Papain can also remove damaged keratin that can build up on the skin and form small bumps. A 2017 study suggested that papain is a viable treatment for scarring.
Papaya is also rich in vitamin A. Although it’s believed that vitamin A might play a role in the development and treatment of acne, the impact of diet on acne remains unclear.
Retinol, a topical form of vitamin A, can help treat and prevent inflammatory acne lesions.
Papaya is a popular home remedy for melasma. Proponents of natural healing suggest that the enzymes, beta-carotene, vitamins, and phytochemicals in papaya have skin lightening properties.
Although unsubstantiated by clinical research, they claim that these qualities — combined with the clinically proven action of papain in dissolving inactive protein — can lighten and soften the skin.
Daily application of cold-pressed papaya seed oil may help lighten dark spots. Buy it online.
According to a 2012 study, the vitamin A in papaya can have positive effects on hair by helping your scalp produce sebum which nourishes, strengthens, and protects your hair.
You can create a papaya hair conditioning mask by mixing together:
- 1/2 ripe papaya
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1 tbsp. honey
Apply the mask to damp hair and let it sit for 30 to 40 minutes. Then rinse, shampoo, and condition your hair as you normally would.
One of the main causes of dandruff is a yeast-like fungus known as malassezia. A 2011 article indicated that the antifungal properties of papaya seeds can assist in both controlling and preventing dandruff.
Try a papaya deep treatment hair mask for dandruff control. Buy one online, like this one from Papaya & Pineapple.
Papaya can offer benefits for both skin and hair, including:
- wrinkle reduction
- acne control
- melasma treatment
- hair conditioning
- hair growth
If you’re considering using papaya for your skin or hair, talk with a doctor or dermatologist before using. This is always a good idea prior to starting any new skin or hair treatment. Your doctor can recommend products and treatments that work well for your hair and skin type.
Top 10 Health Benefits of Papaya
Here are the Health Benefits of Papaya:
1. Food for the skin:
Skin whitening products are on the rage in the market. While glutathione is gaining more and more popularity, a lot of people still go for products with papaya extracts.
But who wants only whitening when youcan get so much more. Did you know that acup of papaya a day can give you a more vibrant and glowing skin? Thanks to the high amounts of vitaminin A and C papaya help you gain just that.
Apart from this two power vitamins, papaya also contains Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that fights of the effects of UV damage.
Last but not the least, Papaya is rich in papain. It is an enzyme that is good for exfoliating dead skin cells. Imagine what you can get with just a cup of papaya a day.
2. Sharp vision:
Papaya is one of the fruits with the highest Vitamin A content.
Vitamin A is an important vitamin for the eyes, especially for those who are already aging and suffering from macular degeneration.
Vitamin A is important in manufacturing the pigments of the retina.
This very essential layer of the eyes maintains the functions of photoreceptors which are enables you to see colors in both the light and dark.
3. Hearty fruit:
Papaya is one the most heartiest food in the planet.
Researches show that Vitamin C is found to prevent arterial damage. Which is why Papaya is commonly attributed to a good and healthy heart.
Apart from this benefit, studies also claim that Vitamin C can also help slow down the formation of plaques inside the arteries.
This beneficial effect can help minimize your risks to atherosclerosis, a deadly disease that can lead to another serious heart ailment.
Don’t forget that it is also high in Lycopene, a hundred grams of papaya contains at most 2 mg of Lycopene, that’s already a healthy dose of an antioxidant that could reduce the amount of oxidized cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood stream.
4. Hello to weight loss:
Have you ever noticed that you easily feel full after eating a small piece or slice of papaya? Well that’s because of its soluble fiber.
When we feel full, of course we tend to lessen our food consumption which in turn [if coupled with a healthy lifestyle and plenty of exercise] could help us loose a few pounds.
Furthermore, soluble fiber helps you get rid of cholesterol in the body. So you get to munch all the papaya’s you want since there’s basically zero fat, low energy density but high in minerals and vitamins, which in layman’s term would just mean, you get all the healthy benefits without the added calorie and fat guilt.
5. Aids the Digestive system:
As mentioned earlier, papaya is also rich in soluble fiber, a key component to a healthy digestive system, it provides mucilage to ensure the smooth flow of the bolus.
Aside from the rich soluble fiber content, researches also claim that the papain enzyme of the papaya aids in digesting proteins, especially that of the meat that we ingest.
So it would be great to have a slice of papaya after a heavy protein meal.
6. Great against arthritis:
Papaya is also packed with anti-inflammatory powers thanks to papain.
This enzyme helps reduce the redness and irritation brought about by Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
It can also help soothe the inflammation of the joints as well. Now, Papaya’s are not only beneficial for those with RAs but also those who are affected, or at high risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that affects the cartilage areas of our joints. With the high Vitamin C content of the papaya, the damaged cartilages have increased chance of repairing themselves.
7. Prevents Cancer:
Having mentioned that papaya is blessed with glorious amounts of essential vitamins and antioxidants, it surely wouldn’t surprise you that this fruit is also one of the top fruits to eat to prevent cancer.
By combining papaya as well as other anti-cancer food and a healthier lifestyle with plenty of exercise and ample sleep then one can avert himself from this disease.
8. Healthy and Shinny hair:
If you think that papaya is only great for the skin, then think again, because it also works quite well with our hair.
The Vitamin C content ensures that your hair would grow healthy. It can prevent split ends, and dry hair brought about by stress.
It also works well for preventing hair loss as Vitamin C functions by reversing adrenal gland fatigue, the major cause of hair fall.
While it was already debunked that Vitamin C can fight off the colds, Vitamin C still remains to be one of the most popular immunoboosters out there.
It is seen to stimulate the body’s prime defenders, the leukocytes. It also functions in increasing the bodies mechanism against viral infections.
Vitamin C in papaya is very high, in fact you can get as much vitamin C in papaya as in oranges and other citrus fruits.
10. Natural Anti-aging agent:
Powerful antioxidants such as Vitamin C, and Lycopene are among the top ingredients and secrets of beauty products that fight against aging.
These antioxidants fight off cell damage and promotes faster cell growth.
Antioxidants are also very protective against the potential damages of the free radicals that we acquire from our day to day activities.
Side Effects Of Papaya
A few side effects of papaya might make you reconsider consuming it. Golden yellow papayas are a healthy source of dietary fiber.
They are low in calories and fat, and if you consume medium-sized papaya, you will receive 300% of the daily recommended vitamin C intake.
However, excessive papaya consumption can result in complications. The fruit is also not suitable for everyone.
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.
Certain people may experience allergies to papaya that may involve rashes (12). The rashes could be attributed to the latex allergy caused by papaya (13).
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 nontoxic 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.