Papaya milk is a refreshing frothy drink, popular in many Southeast Asian countries such as Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Essentially a tropical milkshake, it is typically made by blending together fresh papaya, milk, sweetened condensed milk and ice.
Papaya milk is a good source of vitamins A, C and D, folate, calcium, phosphorous and potassium. However, because of its high sugar and fat content, it should not be consumed in large quantities.
Papaya, also known as pawpaw or paw paw, is native to Central and South America and grows in tropical climates such as Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. According to the University of Arkansas, there are two main types of papaya: the Hawaiian, also known as Solo, and the Mexican, sometimes called the Caribbean or Asian.
When ripe, papaya has a soft yellowish, pinkish or orange-red interior, depending on the variety. The flesh resembles melon in taste and is juicy and sweet. Black, gelatinous seeds fill the center, which you should scoop out before eating. There are numerous health benefits to consuming this delicious fruit.
According to the USDA, one cup of cubed papaya contains:
- 62.4 calories
- 0.7 grams of protein
- 2.5 grams of fiber
- 11.3 grams of sugar
Papaya is low in calories and is a good source of fiber. Additionally, papaya can be a great option for those watching their fat or salt intake, as it contains nearly zero fat, cholesterol and sodium. However, keep in mind, papaya milk has a higher fat content than papaya eaten alone, as two of the other ingredients in the blended drink — whole milk and condensed milk — are both high in fat.
Read more: 3 Side Effects of Eating Too Much Papaya
Papaya is also rich in vitamins and minerals. One cup contains:
- 88.3 milligrams of vitamin C
- 1,380 international units of vitamin A (28 percent of daily value)
- 53.6 micrograms of folate (13 percent of daily value)
- 264 milligrams of potassium (8 percent of daily value)
- 29 milligrams of calcium (3 percent of daily value)
- 30.4 milligrams of magnesium (8 percent of daily value)
Vitamin C Powerhouse
Papaya is one of the best sources of vitamin C in the plant world, according to the USDA and the National Institutes of Health. One cup of the cubed fruit contains more vitamin C than a medium orange — 147 percent of the recommended daily allowance. Since your body does not produce vitamin C, you need to get it from your diet.
According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin C helps carry out a slew of bodily functions. For one, it is needed to build cartilage, muscle and collagen in your bones. Vitamin C also supports your body's healing process and helps your body absorb and store iron.
In a November 2017 review published in the journal Nutrients, researchers concluded that vitamin C is a powerful immunity booster due to the various cellular processes it helps carry out. One important role vitamin C plays in boosting immunity is that it supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens and enhances microbial killing. Epithelial cells are those that compose the body's surfaces, cavities and tubes such as the skin and the respiratory, genital and gastrointestinal tracts, according to Yale University.
The researchers also note that taking vitamin C in supplement form seems to prevent and treat systemic and respiratory infections. Because it is so high in vitamin C, drinking papaya milk might help you build a strong immune system.
Read more: The Nutritional Value of Papaya Seeds
Benefits of Pawpaw and Milk
Like papaya, both milk and condensed milk provide a wide variety of essential nutrients. The USDA recommends consuming 3 cups of dairy daily. Since most papaya milk recipes call for 1 cup of cow milk, the smoothie will supply about a third of the dairy you should be consuming each day.
One cup of whole cow milk contains:
- 149 calories
- 7.9 grams of fat (12 percent of daily value)
- 7.7 grams of protein (15 percent of daily value)
- 12.3 grams of sugar (25 percent of daily value)
- 24.4 milligrams of cholesterol (8 percent of daily value)
- 275.7 milligrams of calcium (21 percent of daily value)
- 322.1 milligrams of potassium (7 percent of daily value)
- 205 milligrams of phosphorous (16 percent of daily value)
Read more: Nutrition Facts for Cow Milk
If you are watching your fat intake, you can substitute whole cow milk with skim or 1 percent milk when making papaya milk. You can also skip using sweetened condensed milk — which contains 3 grams of fat per tablespoon, most of which is saturated fat — in the recipe altogether.
Though condensed milk is high in sugar and fat, it also supplies essential minerals. One tablespoon contains:
- 65 calories
- 1.5 grams of protein
- 1.5 grams of fat
- 11 grams of sugar
- 65 milligrams of potassium
- 56.5 milligrams of calcium
Risks and Considerations
Due to both milk and papaya nutrition, papaya milk will supply you with many essential vitamins and minerals. Though that is the case, the beverage might not be a good option if you are watching your sugar intake. If you use 1 cup of cubed papaya, 1 cup of whole milk, and a tablespoon of condensed milk in the recipe, your papaya milk smoothie will contain about 34.6 grams of sugar per serving.
The American Heart Association recommends not exceeding 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women. For men, the recommended maximum daily amount is 9 teaspoons, or 38 grams. Though most of the sugar in the papaya milk smoothie is naturally occurring, Harvard University recommends decreasing all sources of sugar, with the exception being whole fruit.
Drinking papaya milk as a treat once in a while will supply you with plenty of nutrients and health benefits, such as increased immunity. But better yet, eat unblended papaya alone, without the added fat, cholesterol and sugar found in milk.
- USDA FoodData Central: "Papayas, Raw"
- National Institutes of Health: "Vitamin C"
- Mayo Clinic: "Vitamin C"
- Angel Wong's Kitchen: "Papaya Milk Smoothie (Taiwanese Style)"
- University of Arkansas: "Papaya - A Strange Name But Sweet Flavor"
- Nutrients: "Vitamin C and Immune Function"
- Systems Cell Biology @ Yale: "Epithelia Lab"
- USDA: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans: 2015-2020 Eighth Edition"
- My Food Data: "Nutrition Comparison of Unsweetened Soy Milk, Low-fat Milk 2%, Whole Milk, Low-fat Milk 1%, and Skim Milk"
- USDA: "Basic Report: 555980, Condensed Milk"
- Harvard University: "Natural and Added Sugars: Two Sides of the Same Coin"