Papaya fruit nutritional properties

Health benefits of papaya fruit (Carica papaya)

What does papaya fruit mainly contain?

Papaya fruit is a tropical fruit rich in sugars, fiber and beta carotene.

In addition to being a nutritious, it contains papain, a substance that can be used for medicinal purposes.

What is papain from papayas?

Papayas are rich in a compound called papain or papayotin. Papain is an enzyme with properties similar to pepsin (an enzyme that is part of the gastric juices) or trypsin (enzyme which forms part of pancreatic juice).

Like these enzymes, papain attacks proteins producing their destruction.

This type of enzymes that disaggregate proteins are known as proteolytic enzymes, such as bromelain occurs with pineapple, actidine in kiwi or ficin in figs.

  • Proteolytic enzymes are very interesting because they help break up proteins in food and promote digestion, avoiding gastritis and flatulence.

Papaya, a nutritious and very digestive fruit

Open fruit of papayaPapaya opened fruit

Therefore, papaya, besides being very vitaminizing, it is highly digestive and an interesting fruit for old people who often have digestive problems digesting too much fatty food.

No wonder that the Mexican culinary variety uses to present the meat dishes wrapped with papaya leaves in order to make them more tender and digestible.

In the Caribbean cuisine, many cooks prepare hard meat wrapped with leaves or wet with papaya juice to soften it. The food industry uses to treat meat with papain to make it more chewy.

Papaya to digest very high fat meals

Fats are healthy foods in their fair amount. Foods that are very high in fat, such as at Christmas parties or celebrations, delay gastric emptying and produce slow and difficult digestions. A natural way to help our stomach digest the excesses of the diet is by taking papaya, well chewed, after these meals.

Antioxidant properties of papaya: Depurative and anti-aging

Papayas in a market

Papayas in a market

Papayas are noted for its vitamin C and vitamin A content. Vitamin A appears in papayas as carotene, mainly beta carotene, gamma-carotene and epsilon-carotene.

Vitamin C and carotenoids are two of the major antioxidants that help eliminate free radicals generated by the body itself, as well as those produced by external factors.

A medium papaya contains about 190 mg of vitamin C, an amount that doubles the recommended daily dose for an adult, which is 90 mg in men and 75 in women. 140 g of this fruit (A cup of papaya pieces) provide 86.5 mg of vitamin C, so it virtually covers the recommended dose.

Ingestion of this food is a natural way to take profit of antioxidants whose many benefits include, for example:

  • Prevention of many cancers, such as those affecting the breast, bladder, colon, or cervix.
  • They can also prevent or delay premature aging,
  • Prevent visual degeneration
  • Protect the heart
  • Supply need for increased intake of vitamin C in smoking or alcoholism.

Papaya to treat the negative effects of tobacco

Main properties of papaya

Main properties of papaya

Papayas are especially recommended for smokers who need a higher dose of vitamin C. Smoking tobacco, for its oxidizing properties, consume plenty of antioxidants by forcing the smoker to a higher intake of vitamin C – (120 mg daily). Eating a papaya surpasses the required amount.

Papaya for weight diets

Papayas are very light fruits. They only have 39 calories per 100 g. Besides, they are very rich in potassium and low in sodium. Taking this into account, papayas become very convenient to treat liquid retentions, being very suitable to lose weight.

Papaya for male fertility

Papayas can often be a good resource to increase fertility of men. It has been proved that sperm has been declining in quality or in quantity, or in their mobility in men who inhabit certain geographical areas, especially in large cities. It is thought that pollution and stress consume more antioxidants and decrease body levels of vitamin C.

Supplements of this vitamin have been able in most cases to reverse the problem in a short period of time. Eating this food from time to time may be a nicer way to overcome infertility or increase the reproductive capacity of Man.

Can papaya be responsible for women infertility?

Despite containing much vitamin C, that possesses fertilizing properties, it appears that papaya papain inhibits estrogen production, therefore it could not very suitable for fertility in women.

It is said that eating plenty of these fruits can produce infertility or low reproduction in women, such as it happens in certain villages where women consume this fruit abundantly. The truth is that there are not determining enough studies on this subject

How to choose and eat papayas?

Photo of some papayas in a papaya tree

Photo of some papayas in a papaya tree

  • If purchased mature, they should have not any skin mark indicating that they may be rotten inside.
  • When you buy them green, you have to choose those that have begun to mature, so they will show some yellow tones. The best ones are those having a yellowish color in three quarters of their surface. They must be firm when pressed gently, not flabby below.
  • Maturation has to take place out of the refrigerator, something that will normally happen in four or five days. If placed in the refrigerator once mature, they can withstand up to a week, although they will lose their aroma and sweetness, so it is better to eat them in a couple of days after they have matured.
  • They must not be purchased when completely green, except if we want to use them medicinally, since in many cases they will not ripen. One trick to accelerate maturation is to put them into a plastic bag with some bananas. In their native place, they are eaten both green and ripe.
  • When green, they can be cooked as if they were zucchini. In fact, they taste very similar to them. Green papayas are ideal for baking, which requires a baking period of about 20 to 25 minutes at a temperature of about 300 º C.
  • In the United States, it is very common to eat them at breakfast with a squeeze of lemon. In other parts of the world, they are eaten as fruit, in cakes, in salads or they are used to prepare beverages.
  • The most common way to eat a papaya is as a fresh fruit. To do this, you should split it along in half. Remove the seeds and eat the pulp with the help of a spoon.
  • We can also cut it into slices, cubes or shaped as desired. The advantage of this fruit is that, after cutting it, it does not become black.
  • Normally, we despise the papaya seeds though they are edible and can be used crushed for salad dressings. In this case, they have a very spicy flavor reminiscent of mustard.


Composition of raw papayas per 100 g
Water88,8 g
Calories39 Kcal
Fat0,14 g
Carbohydrates8,81 g
Fiber1,8 g
Potassium257 mg
Sodium3 mg
Phosphorus5 mg
Magnesium10 mg
Calcium24 mg
Vitamin C61,8 mg
Vitamin A284 IU
Vitamin B 10.027 mg
Vitamin B 20,0 32 mg
Niacin0, 338 mg
Folic acid38 mg

Contraindications and toxicity of papayas

  • We must be very careful in handling this fruit when green because it produces a milklike juice that is irritating to the eyes, and could lead to vision loss.
  • Papayas can not be used with preparations needing coagulation, since this fruit, in the same way as pineapple, prevents coagulation of blood.

punto rojoMore information on papaya.

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

1 July, 2019

Other interesting articles

This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.
"Botanical-online" is not responsible for damages caused by self-medication.