The papaya fruit is native to Central and South America. It has a green or yellow exterior that varies depending on how ripe it is. On the outside, papayas resemble mangoes. However, once they’re cut open, their orange flesh and tiny black seeds can allow you to differentiate them from mangoes easily. These sweet fruits are well known for their beneficial nutrients and medicinal properties. In general, papaya is considered to be a healthy, nutritious food with few side effects.
The Side Effects of Papaya
Consuming papaya doesn’t have many negative side effects. In fact, its wide range of positive benefits means that this fruit is generally considered to be very healthy.
However, the papaya does have specific properties that can cause issues to certain people or have side effects in large doses. For instance, Papaya is known for its fiber content. Each serving has 10 percent of your daily recommended amount of fiber. Usually, this would be considered a positive. However, like with any fiber-rich food, eating a lot of papaya could lead to digestive discomfort.
Papaya has a variety of nutrients and compounds that change with the ripening process. Many of these can impact the uterus and fertility of men and women. These include chemicals like latex, which is found in high quantities in the unripe papaya fruit. The latex in papaya can affect the uterus and menstrual cycle. In particular, latex can cause contractions that make consumption of a lot of papaya, especially unripe papaya, dangerous to pregnant women. These contractions could result in undesired, spontaneous abortions and alter the menstrual cycle.
Eating papaya in excess can also cause issues with fertility. This is due to the papain found in papaya. Papain is an enzyme that can help facilitate digestion. However, it may also impact reproductive health. In large amounts, it can suppress progesterone, making it a natural contraceptive. Regular, long-term consumption of papaya can cause decreased sperm counts and lead to infertility.
However, these side effects aren’t permanent; they should go away once papaya consumption stops. It can take several months for issues with fertility to cease, though. In general, you should avoid eating papaya if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Otherwise, in moderation, papaya is a perfectly safe, healthy food to consume.
Papaya is well-known for being a nutritious, sweet fruit that's low in calories. Each cup-sized serving of papaya is rich in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and potassium. In fact, each cup of papaya contains 144 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C. This makes papaya one of the most vitamin C-rich foods, not far off from oranges and red peppers.
The vitamin C in papaya acts like an antioxidant and can also help your body heal wounds, make collagen, and absorb iron. Papaya also contains small amounts of many B-complex vitamins, vitamin E and vitamin K, as well as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.
In addition to having so many beneficial nutrients, the papaya contains enzymes like papain that can help break down proteins and other nutrients. The benefits and nutrients of the papaya can also be found in the papaya plant’s leaves, roots and seeds. These parts of the papaya plant and fruit have also been consumed for many years. However, like apple seeds, these can contain cyanide and should be consumed with caution.
- International Research Journal of Pharmacy: Basketful Benefits of Papaya
- Self: Nutrition Data: Papaya
- Plant Physiology: Postharvest Variation in Cell Wall-Degrading Enzymes of Papaya
- The Pharma Innovation Journal: Natural Remedies to Increase Platelet Count
- Asiaweek: The Natural Way. A Tropical Contraceptive.
- MedlinePlus: Papaya
- NIH: Vitamin C