Health benefits of papaya you’ll be surprised to know

Papayas contain a range of nutrients, such as antioxidants and potassium. Possible health benefits of eating papaya may include reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more.

Papaya, papaw, or pawpaw, is a soft, fleshy fruit of the plant species Carica papaya.

This article examines the possible health benefits and uses of papaya fruit, its nutritional value, and how to incorporate more papaya into a diet.

Benefits of papaya fruit

A papaya fruit cut in half. -1
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The nutrients in papaya may have a range of health benefits. They may help protect against a number of health conditions.

Vision and eye health

Some of the organic compounds present in papaya may helpTrusted Source prevent inflammation and oxidative stress in age-related eye diseases, such as macular degeneration.

One of these compounds, called lycopene, may help protect the retinal pigment epithelium — a part of the retina essential for healthy vision — against inflammation and oxidative stress.

Papaya also contains carotene, a compound that gives the papaya its distinctive orange color. Carotene has links to vision improvement and the prevention of night blindness.

Zeaxanthin, an antioxidant in papaya, filters out harmful blue light rays. It is thought to play a protective role in eye health and may ward off macular degeneration.


Consuming a high amount of fruits and vegetables lowersTrusted Source the risk of developing asthma and can prevent the condition from worsening.

This may be due to dietary components in fruits and vegetables, such as antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin D. These nutrients can assist the immune system’s typical functioning, which over-responds in people with asthma.

One 2022 studyTrusted Source also linked a higher intake of carotenes, lycopene, and zeaxanthin to a lower risk of developing asthma in adults. Papaya contains all three of these organic compounds.

2017 animal studyTrusted Source also found that papaya leaf extract has an anti-inflammatory effect on the airways of mice. However, more research is necessary into the effect of papaya leaf extract on humans.


Many of the compounds present in papaya — such as lycopene, zeaxanthin, and lutein, may haveTrusted Source anticancer effects.

2022 reviewTrusted Source explained that some studies have shown that lycopene has anticancer properties, particularly against prostate cancer. However, the researchers mentioned more research is necessary to determine the recommended doses.

2020 studyTrusted Source suggested that zeaxanthin may have a beneficial effect on gastric cancer cells.

Another 2018 studyTrusted Source also found that lutein selectively slows the growth of breast cancer cells.

Additionally, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduceTrusted Source the risk of cancer more generally. Generally, plants with the most color — dark green, yellow, red, and orange — have the most nutrients.

Bone health

Papaya is a source of vitamin K. Low intakes of vitamin K have associationsTrusted Source with a higher risk of bone fracture.

Adequate vitamin K consumption is important for good health. It improves calcium absorption and may reduce urinary excretion of calcium, meaning there is more calcium in the body to strengthen and rebuild bones.


Studies have shown that people with type 1 diabetes who consume high fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels. Additionally, those with type 2 diabetes following high fiber diets may have improved blood sugar, lipid, and insulin levels.

One small papaya provides nearly 3 grams (g)Trusted Source of fiber, with only 17 g of carbohydrates.


Papaya is high in fiber and water content, which help prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.

Heart disease

Antioxidants in papaya, such as lycopene, may reduceTrusted Source the risk of heart disease and stroke. Papaya also contains fiber, which research shows may help lower cholesterol.

It is also high in potassium, which can be beneficial for those with high blood pressure.

An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium intake is the most important dietary change someone can make to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Hair health

Papaya is also great for hair because it contains vitamin A, a nutrient necessary for sebum production, which keeps hair moisturized.

Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.

Adequate intake of vitamin C, which papaya can provide, is necessary for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to the skin.

Papaya fruit nutrition

Papayas are a high source of vitamin C. One small fruit provides about 95.6 milligrams (mg)Trusted Source of vitamin C, which meets or exceeds the daily recommended intake for adult males (90 mgTrusted Source) and females (75 mg).

One medium papaya has approximately:

  • 120 calories
  • 30 g of carbohydrate — including 5 g of fiber and 18 g of sugar
  • 2 g of protein

Papayas are also a suitable source of:

They also have B vitamins, alpha and beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, vitamin K, and lycopene, the powerful antioxidant most commonly associated with tomatoes.

Papaya fruit recipes

There are many simple ways to add papaya to a diet. A person can eat papaya on its own, and it has a sweet, buttery interior. The following section provides tips for preparing and eating papaya.

How to eat papaya

When choosing or eating papaya, it is best to look for fresh papayas with soft, reddish-orange skins.

A person can simply cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and enjoy. The seeds of the papaya are edible but have a bitter, peppery taste. Using a spoon, it is possible to scoop out the soft flesh of the fruit.

Papaya is a soft, versatile fruit, meaning a person can incorporate it into many recipes. A person can consider the following simple methods of preparation:

  • Make a tropical fruit salad with fresh papaya, pineapple, and mango.
  • Muddle papaya into a glass of lemonade, iced tea, or water for a burst of fresh, fruity flavor.
  • Make a fresh salsa with papaya, mango, jalapeno, red peppers, and chipotle pepper. Use as a topping for fish tacos.
  • Add a few slices of frozen papaya to smoothies. Combine with pineapple juice, half a frozen banana, and Greek yogurt for a sweet tropical treat.

Possible risks of papaya fruit

Papaya fruit is a common food and is safe to eat when ripe.

However, unripe papaya papaya contains papaya latex, which contains an enzyme called papain. Taking large amounts of this enzyme could damage the esophagus, but this risk is low when consuming ripe papaya.

Additionally, people with a latex allergy may also be allergic to papaya, so they may need to exercise caution around the fruit and products containing papaya.

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