Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Papaya (Fruit) + Uses for the Seeds

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Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Papaya (Fruit) + Uses for the Seeds

Papaya is a delicious fruit that has many health benefits because it is full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Eating papaya fruit can help to strengthen your immune system and improve your digestive health. It can also help improve your eyesight, lower cholesterol levels, and give a boost to your skin’s health. Papaya fruit is also a good source of vitamins such a vitamin C, E, and A.


Papaya seeds are also very healthy to eat and can help to kill off intestinal parasites, fight bacterial infections and even protect your kidneys.

Apart from consuming papaya, extracts from papaya fruit, leaves and seeds can also boost your health. Papaya extracts are also full of vitamins and have been linked to managing diabetes and they may also have anticancer properties.

In this article, I will look at scientific research into the health benefits of the papaya fruit and seeds.

What Is Papaya (Pawpaw)?

Papaya (Carica papaya) is a large pear shaped fruit that grows in tropical climates. In some countries, papaya is also called pawpaw or papaw.

Papaya is a fleshy fruit with soft pulp and it has different colors that vary from yellow to red.

Papaya fruit is usually a bright orange color and ripe papaya tastes like sweet melon. A ripe papaya has a slightly sweet smell. If the papaya doesn’t have scent, it’s not ripe yet, however if it has a strong sweet smell, it’s overripe.

You can also eat papaya seeds. The black seeds from the papaya are in a gelatinous substance in the middle of the fruits. Papaya seeds have a peppery, sometimes bitter, taste to them.

There are many ways that you can consume papaya or pawpaw. You can eat papaya fruit raw, extract juice from papaya, or use papaya seeds in salads or delicious smoothies. You know when papaya fruit is ready to eat when it feels slightly soft and the skin has a reddish-orange look.

Papaya Nutrition Facts

Papaya is a fruit that is rich in vitamin C and because of that, it is a healthy addition to your diet. In fact, one cup of mashed papaya fruit (140 g) contains over 230% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C! (1)

The high content of vitamin A in papaya fruit can help to offset vitamin A deficiencies.

Vitamin A and vitamin C are both powerful antioxidants, so the ‘fruit of the angels’, as Christopher Columbus called it, destroys free radicals in the body – the villains behind many chronic diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

There are 43 calories in 100 g of papaya. One small papaya (weighing 157 g) has 68 calories. One big papaya (weighing 781 g) has 336 calories. (2)

Papaya also contains many vitamins and minerals that make it a very healthy fruit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that 100 g of papaya contains the following: (2)

  • 60 mg vitamin C
  • 950 IU vitamin A (22% RDI)
  • 37 mcg folate (10% RDI)
  • 24 mg calcium
  • 257 mg potassium
  • 10 mg magnesium
  • 25 mg omega-3 fatty acids
  • 7 g dietary fiber (7% RDI)

Papaya fruit and extracts also contain important compounds that have medicinal benefits. For example, papaya contains a compound called papain which has been linked to digestive health and it also has anticancer properties. (3, 32)

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Papaya seeds have anti parasitic properties and they have been shown to inhibit cancer. (4)

Benefits of Papaya

Let’s look in more detail that the many benefits you can get from eating more papaya fruit or using papaya on your skin.

Consuming Papaya Can Help to Boost Digestion

Eating more papaya fruit and seeds can have a beneficial effect on your digestive system.

Like all fruits and vegetables, papaya contains fiber that is essential for healthy digestion and to prevent constipation. It also contains an enzyme called papain that helps digestion. The high vitamin and nutrient content of papaya also keeps your body healthy. However, it seems that papaya also contains compounds that specifically improve digestive health.

One study focused on the use of a commercial product that contains extracts of papaya fruit and seeds. The participants in the study took 20 ml papaya extract for 40 days. Researchers found that most people experienced fewer symptoms like heartburn, excess gas, constipation, and bloating. (19)

To keep your bowels happy and moving, your diet should be rich in dietary fiber. Papaya has loads of fiber, and one serving can satisfy a quarter of your daily recommended intake.

Please read this article to find out 8 more ways improve your digestion.

Papaya Fruit is Rich in Antioxidants

One of the most important health benefits of papaya is that it is full of antioxidants. In fact, both the pulp from papaya fruit and the seeds have powerful antioxidants.

The British Journal of Nutrition reported that papaya fruit contains more carotenoids than tomatoes or carrots.

Carotenoids are antioxidants linked to good health, preventing disease, improving eye health, and cancer prevention. Researchers recommend a diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables containing carotenoids. (6)

A study compared the amounts of carotenoids in papaya, tomatoes, and carrots. It was found that the body adsorbed carotenoids easier from papaya than the other vegetables. (5)

Papaya also contains an important antioxidant called lycopene. Consuming papaya fruit helps to prevent oxidative stress and, therefore, protect against many chronic diseases. (7)

Researchers have found that extracts of papaya seeds are also an important source of antioxidants and vitamin C. (8)

Papaya Can Strengthen Your Immune System

Strengthening your immune system is another great reason to eat papaya and include the peppery papaya seeds in your diet.

One trial found that eating papaya fruit increased immune cell function in the body. Researchers noted that after consuming papaya, there was a marked increase in white blood cells which play an important role in the immune system. (9)

A study on rats found that papaya extracts boosted their immune system. For example, researchers found that levels of glutathione increased. (10) Glutathione is an important antioxidant that helps to strengthen the immune system.

To learn about other ways of preventing infection, please read my article on ways to instantly boost your immune system.

Papaya Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Papaya fruit can also help prevent chronic diseases from developing because it contains properties that reduce inflammation.

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In general, eating more fruits and vegetables help to lower the body’s inflammatory responses. But, it seems that papaya is especially effective in alleviating inflammatory conditions.

Research has shown that papaya stimulates certain cells in the body that have an anti-inflammatory effect. (11) Also, other studies have shown that carotenoid-rich fruits like papaya release proteins that help to lower inflammatory responses in the body. (12)

Please read my other article for more information on foods that can lower inflammation.

Papaya Can Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

An important benefit of consuming more fresh papaya fruit is that it helps to keep your cardiovascular system healthy.

One study involving adolescents found that compounds in papaya have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system. The study found that antioxidants in papaya like lycopene help to prevent cardiovascular disease. (13)

Other studies on rats have shown that extracts from papaya fruit increase beneficial enzymes in the blood that help to lower blood pressure and reduce oxidative stress. These results had an overall protective effect on the cardiovascular system. (14)

One study found that drinking papaya juice could help to significantly lower blood pressure. (15)

Please read this article for ways to lower blood pressure naturally and reduce your risk of stroke or a heart attack.

Papaya Can Benefit Your Skin

The high levels of antioxidants and vitamins in papaya fruit mean that papaya is an excellent skin care product. For example, papaya contains vitamins A, C, and E – all of which are used in many skincare products.

Dermatologists report that papaya contains lycopene and beta-carotene (β-carotene). Consuming fruits and vegetables containing these antioxidants help to boost the production of collagen in the skin. (16)

Another study in 2016 on humans found that consuming fermented papaya extract supplement helped to improve the skin’s elasticity. The study also found that skin was generally better hydrated and had less appearance of fine lines. When compared with other antioxidant supplements, papaya supplements were more effective. (17)

Papaya Help Wounds Heal Quicker

Because papaya has such a wonderful effect on your skin, it is no wonder that papaya can help wounds to heal quicker.

Papaya also contains the enzymes chymopapain and papain that could help your skin heal faster. In fact, papaya is currently used as a major component in burns dressings. (33)

Papaya contains many antioxidants that promote wound healing. However, one study showed that papaya fruit and seeds also have antibacterial properties. A paste of mashed papaya fruit and ground seeds helped to prevent bacterial infections when applied to open wounds. (18)

The researchers suggested that applying skin preparations containing papaya could help to treat chronic skin ulcers.

Eating Papaya Fruit Can Strengthen Bones

Including more papaya as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet can help strengthen bones and may prevent osteoporosis.

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One study from 2017 on over 3,000 adults (men and women) found that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can benefit bone health. Among the fruits scientists found to be the best for boosting bone health were papayas, citrus fruits, apples, bananas, and mangoes. (20)

Osteoporosis is a common problem in the menopause. Please read my other article to learn about other ways to prevent osteoporosis.

Papaya Can Protect Your Eyesight

Papaya fruit can help protect your eyesight because it contains lutein, beta-carotene, and vitamin A. All of these antioxidants have been connected with protecting eyesight, especially in advanced age.

In a review of necessary nutrients to protect eyesight in advanced age, researchers found that papaya is a rich source of eyesight-protecting antioxidants. The researchers found that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits like papaya can protect against macular degeneration (an eye disease that causes vision loss). (31)

The journal Clinical Interventions in Aging reported that papaya has many important nutrients to prevent age-related eye diseases. Papaya benefits your eyesight because it contains nutrients that are important for your vision such as vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, zinc, and zeaxanthin. (32)

There are other foods that can protect your eyesight.

Papaya Can Reduce Symptoms Related to Diabetes

You can also use extracts from the papaya plant to help reduce the symptoms of diabetes.

Research on rats found that papaya leaf extract preparations were able to significantly lower blood glucose levels. The study revealed that the leaf extracts of papaya also lowered cholesterol and increased levels of antioxidants in diabetic subjects. (21)

Interestingly, researchers also noted that the papaya leaf extracts improved liver and pancreas function in all subjects.

Papaya Leaf Extracts Can Increase Red Blood Cell Count (RBC)

Extracts from papaya leaves also have a positive effect on blood and can increase the number of red blood cells.

Scientists observed the effect of fresh papaya leaf extract on mice. They discovered that, in a 3-week period, papaya helped to increase platelet and red blood cell count. They summarized that papaya leaf extract could be used to treat conditions that result in fewer than normal red blood cells. (22)

Papaya Extracts Have an Anticancer Effect

Extracts of the papaya plant have an anticancer effect and may prove useful in helping to treat certain types of cancer.

For example, in 2017 scientists found that papaya leaf extracts can help to inhibit the spread of breast cancer. In some cases, the papaya extracts even killed off cancerous cells. (23)

Labs experiments found that pectin (a soluble dietary fiber) extracted from papaya fruit has anticancer properties. (24)

It’s important to remember that current research on using papaya as a cancer treatment is in early stages. Most research involves using specific extracts of papaya was done in laboratory conditions.

However, most doctors agree that a diet containing fruits and vegetables with high levels of antioxidants can help to protect against various cancers. (25)

The Benefits of Papaya Seeds and How to Use Them

When you cut a papaya, the insides look very inviting, and the seeds can easily be scooped out.

Papaya seeds are high in fat and protein, and contain plenty of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

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Think twice before you discard them, as they can be used in many ways.

The seeds have a distinct, slightly peppery flavor. They can be eaten as they are, or you can sprinkle them over salads and other dishes, just as you would use pumpkin seeds. Those who are not afraid of the spicy flavor, can try them in a smoothie.

Papaya seeds also have many health benefits.

Papaya Seed Extracts Can Kill Off Intestinal Parasites

One of the many medicinal uses of papaya seeds is to eliminate intestinal parasites (anthelmintic and anti-amoebic properties).

One study on the use of dried papaya seed extracts found that they were effective in treating human parasites. Children who had intestinal parasitic infections took 20 ml of papaya seed extract per day. After 7 days results showed that around 71% of the children no longer showed signs of parasites. (26)

Please read my other article to learn about other natural ways of getting rid of intestinal parasites.

Seeds of Papaya Can Help to Treat Gastric Ulcers

Papaya seeds can also help treat gastric ulcers because they have a protective effect on the stomach lining.

A 2015 study on rats found that papaya seed extracts were effective in treating gastric ulcers. The results of the study showed that the seed extract of papaya reduced ulcers by up to 84%. Papaya seed extract also stimulated mucus production in the stomach which also reduced levels of stomach acid. (27)

Please read my article on how to reduce stomach acid naturally to find out other ways to reduce a sensation of stomach burning after a meal.

Papaya Seeds Help Fight Bacterial Infections

Extracts from papaya seeds also have antibacterial activity and can help fight certain bacterial infections.

One study published in 2014 found that extracts of papaya seeds and papaya leaves can kill off certain bacterial pathogens. For example, papaya extracts were effective against strains of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli, and Salmonella typhi. (28)

This means that eating some papaya seeds daily can not only improve your digestion but also help prevent gastrointestinal infections.

Papaya Seeds Can Help Protect Kidney Function

The antioxidant effect of papaya fruit and papaya seeds can help to protect your kidneys against kidney damage.

One trial on rats showed that papaya seed extracts helped to protect kidney function. After 8 days in the trial, blood test results showed that papaya seed extract prevented damage to kidneys. (29)

Papaya Seeds Have Antifungal Activity

Extracts from papaya seeds can help to kill off fungal infections in the body.

Researchers found that components isolated from papaya seeds are effective enough to destroy strains of Candida albicans and other types of fungus. (30)

Candida infections can occur in the body when there is an imbalance of healthy bacteria in your gut. This can cause various symptoms including vaginal thrush, oral thrush, and itching around the genitals.

Please read this article to learn about more ways to get rid of a candida infection naturally.

Digestive Enzyme Smoothie Recipe

This is one of my favorite smoothies that has many health benefits. This smoothie consists of pineapple and papaya which contain digestive enzymes that help ease digestion.

Papaya and pineapple enzymes digest proteins, and because of their protein dissolving properties, it is no wonder that pineapple and papaya juices work wonderfully as meat tenderizers.

Nowadays people consume in their diet a large amount of meat and plant protein, and we don’t have enough enzymes needed to digest them properly. Although our body produces many enzymes needed for digestion, we also depend on our food to provide the rest.

These enzymes can be found in large quantity in raw foods, but because we consume processed foods in excess amounts, we lack the quantity necessary to enable healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Here comes the detox smoothie with papaya and pineapple: papaya enzymes are called papain and are extracted from the leaves and fruit of the papaya plant. Pineapple enzymes are called bromelain, and can be found in all parts of the fresh plant and fruit.

Both enzymes are reputed to provide a wide variety of health benefits. Bromelain and papain are traditionally used for their anti-inflammatory properties and are consumed orally and topically for minor skin irritations or burns.

The papain also acts as a diuretic, and has anti-microbial and anti-ulcerative properties. As such, papaya enzymes are believed to help relieve a variety of gastrointestinal complaints, as well as stomach ulcers and pancreatic enzyme deficiency.

Pineapple enzymes are also used to treat digestive problems, as well as heartburn.

The plain bio yogurt in this recipe also aids digestion as it contains “friendly bacteria” that are naturally present in the digestive system, and can help boost the immune system and promote a healthy digestive tract.

Now let’s get to the detox smoothie recipe:

2 slices pineapple
1/2 papaya, cubed
2 tablespoons plain bio yogurt
1/2 lemon (optional)
1 sprig of mint

Put all the ingredients in a blender and whiz until smooth. You can add a little bit of water if you want a thinner consistency. Enjoy this detox smoothie after any meal to help your digestive system do its important role.

Enjoy your next papaya experience!

Side Effects of Eating Papaya

Papaya is a natural fruit that is high in vitamin C and other beneficial nutrients. Consuming more papaya fruit in your diet rarely causes an adverse effects.

Doctors on WebMD say that consuming papaya for medicinal purposes shouldn’t cause any side effects. However, some people may develop allergic reactions. Papaya latex may also irritate your skin. (31)

Fermented papaya supplements can lower blood glucose levels. You should consult with your doctor before taking papaya supplements for their health benefits.

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49 Responses to Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Papaya (Fruit) + Uses for the Seeds

  1. Jennifer says:

    Is there a remedy on papaya for weight loss?

    • Jenny says:

      Papaya is full of both water and fiber, which benefits your digestive system, and also help you feel full for longer. A healthy digestive system helps with proper excretion of waste and maintaining a proper body weight.

    • maggie says:

      Papaya is also considered a laxative.it helps in digestion of food and drink lots of water.you will surely feel the effects of eating papaya.

  2. mathuvi says:

    Usually I eat papaya n those seeds I just throw it away, but u say can eat.

  3. Betty says:

    is it harmful to eat too much sunflower seed?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Betty, you wrote sunflower seeds, but I guess you meant papaya seeds as the article talks about papaya seeds. While papaya seeds are considered safe to eat, consuming anything in large quantities when your stomach is not accustomed to it can cause digestive upset. Start slowly with 1/4 tsp for several days then work up to 1/2 tsp, and finally to 1 tsp daily.

      • brad mayeux says:

        papaya HELPS digestion.
        so, no, eating 2 or 3 teaspoons of seed will not harm you at all.
        i do it all the time
        they are high in protein, minerals, fight cancer and also kill parasites.

        they ahve a nice peppery flavor that offsets the sweetness of the papaya.
        so i eat a few seeds with the fruit, and one or 2 teapoons as a medicinal after

      • Veena says:

        What about eating raw papaya

  4. shweta says:

    Can we dry papaya seeds and then use it after powdering it?

  5. B Rajesh Shenoy says:

    Hi, u said there is fat in papaya seeds, so is it not good for fatty ppl

  6. Susan Leigh Forbes says:

    My father had a dark growth on his lung showed up in a xray which they thought was caused by chemicals he was using in commercial cleaning. I had heard about papaya seeds for cancer growths and took a jar of the seeds up to him in hospital and made him eat them. The next test was done soon after and the growth had gone. True story.

  7. Darlene says:

    Wow I had no idea Papaya had so many health benefits. Is there a recipy for a skin cream? Can papaya be grown from the seed? How do you grow papaya?

  8. AngEng says:

    Colourful fruits are rich in vitamins. The seeds are eaten too.

  9. M Lokman Farrukh says:

    Benefits of papaya are quite well known to people. But things about papaya seed is quite new. We shall have to try out. Please specify difference of benefit between ripe & green papaya, and their seeds.
    Thanks

    • Jenny says:

      I have read that even the unripe papayas are loaded with health benefits, but I couldn’t find further information that compares between the green and ripe papaya as for nutritional value and phytonutrients, so unfortunately I cannot be of much help.

      • Trevor says:

        Hi Guys, I am from South America. Papaya is an extra ordinary fruit. I have known of the anti-helminthic (anti worm) properties since childhood. we also cook and eat Green Papaya like you would squash, we add a small amount of coconut milk/cream to it. Simply Delicious, plus the added benefits of the nutrients and medicinal qualities. You should try it some day

  10. Paul Costello says:

    A few chunks of green papaya in any meat stew will soften the meat. Most meat tenderizer is made from papaya = Papain the main ingredient in most meat tenderizer.

  11. Nancy Lee says:

    I eat Papaya almost everyday and love them. It makes my skin youthful. Of course not only papaya. Green tea and veggies are loaded with enzymes essential for anti oxidants.

  12. Helen says:

    You can also use unripe papaya to treat malaria. Just slice, soak in water for 24hrs and its ready to drink. As contraceptive the root. For typhoid fever the male specie etc

  13. Karen says:

    Is papya also good for diabetes

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Karen, diabetics can eat papaya in exchange for other sources of carbohydrate in their meal plan. See more information in the American diabetes Association in its page about fruits, as well as here. If you are in doubt about the exact amount you can consume, consult with your doctor.

  14. Randi Beall says:

    So how can we tell so we do not buy genetically modified papaya. I live in Oregon so hehe I know it is not grown here. I did once find seeds in a papaya that were rooted and planted them. They grew great until my big dog decided he really like the plant for his desert. He was band from the green house after that.

  15. aminat says:

    Plsss Can the seed b sun dried for preservations purposes!?

    • Jenny says:

      Papaya seeds can be stored in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container for preservation. They can also be dried on a windowsill in the sunlight for several days or using dehydrator.

  16. Victoria Medina says:

    My mother always says eat the seeds they are good for the worms.

  17. Erin says:

    Hi, how do i find out the origin of the fruit sold at the grocery store? also in the organic section, is that an okay place to purchase them?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Erin, many times there is a sticker on the fruit which states country of origin. If not – this article gives information about GMO and non-GMO papaya types – see here. As for your second question – have a look at this article “Is Organic Always GMO Free?

  18. Ann R says:

    So if the papaya is from Hawaii does that mean it’s GMO?…how do you know if the papaya is safe to eat?

  19. Angie says:

    Do I have to crush or break the seed shell or can I swallow them whole?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Angie, the seeds need to be chewed or crushed or ground to be effective. The shells of papaya seeds are tough and unlikely to be broken down during digestion so swallowing them whole probably won’t have much benefit.

  20. Bhausaheb Nevarekar says:

    Thanks for good information, My question is whether Papaya is suitable for Critical Kidney
    Disorder Patients Diet.

    • Jenny says:

      I don’t know. If you have any special condition, it’s best to consult with a doctor and be on the safe sides of things.

  21. Tin Aung says:

    morning papaya
    evening banana!
    this is Myanmar(Burma) tradional practice.
    anyone who take papaya early morning n
    one banana b/4 bed time daiiy. no doctor for him.

  22. Steve says:

    Do you get the same benefits from dried Papaya?

  23. pinky says:

    how do we used the papaya seeds..explain pls .do we have to dried it the sun ..

    • Jenny Hills says:

      You don’t have to dry them. You can eat them as is or crush them and add them to dishes. If you want however you can dry them in the sun for a few days or in a dehydrator which is much quicker (usually few hours).

  24. Robin says:

    Do the seeds give the same effect if you put them in a smoothie or do you have to eat them plain like they are to get the effect

    • Jenny Hills, Medical Writer and Researcher says:

      You can mix them with other foods, such as yogurt or smoothie. You don’t have to eat them alone.

  25. Christy Ejabena says:

    Thanks Jenny, Very informative article, l love papaya and my family eat them often but never new has these much benefits they are grow in my husband little farm – Nigeria.

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