Papayas are fruits that grow on trees that are native to the tropical regions of North and South America. When the fruit is ripe, the flesh can be eaten raw. It is sweet and juicy. Unripe green papayas are usually cooked or stir-fried; they are a common component in many stews and curries. Papaya flesh is extremely high in vitamin C and an excellent source of folate, potassium, vitamin A and dietary fiber. Payaya seeds are also edible and offer several potential health benefits.
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The United States Department of Agriculture recommends a serving size of 1 cup for cubed raw papaya flesh. However, there is no recommended serving size for papaya seeds. The USDA also has no listing of the nutritional composition of papaya seeds, but research has shown that the seeds are high in fat and protein and a good source of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Because of their high fat content, it is best to consume papaya seeds in moderation. A 1 ounce serving of papaya seeds counts as a protein serving, according to ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Papaya Seed Benefits
According to the July 2011 issue of the journal "Molecules," papaya seeds contain phenolic and flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant properties. The April 2011 issue of the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" reports that the seeds may contain immunomodulatory compounds that can slow tumor growth. Papaya seeds also contain compounds that may kill parasites, according to the June 2011 issue of the "Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine."
Papaya Seed Risks
Benzyl isothiocyanate, a compound found in papaya seeds, may induce toxicological damage in animals at high doses, according to the December 2003 issue of "Life Sciences." Research presented in the February 2010 issue of the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" shows that extracts from papaya seeds have a contraceptive effect in animals, but it is not known if the same is true for humans. However, the levels of these compounds in a normal serving of papaya seeds pose little health risk.
Culinary Uses of Papaya Seeds
After you cut a papaya in half, scoop out the seeds with a large spoon. They are encased in a gelatinous substance that can be rinsed away in a strainer under running water. They are slightly bitter and have a spicy, peppery flavor. The seeds can be added to salad dressings or eaten as is. They can also be sprinkled on salads or soups or added to any dish as a substitute for black pepper.