The Food Coach

Healthy Food Database - Papaya (see also red papaya)

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The papaya is thought to be indigenous to the West Indies and northern South America. When the Europeans first saw it they called it a tree melon as many varieties are melon shaped. In Australia, the papaya is sometimes referred to as papaw, although there is some confusion with some people only using the term papaya (or Hawaiian papaya) for the smaller variety with slightly wrinkled, yellow skin and sweet red flesh.

Papaya has distinct orange-red flesh and is pear-shaped with a yellow-orange coloured skin. Different to papaw, it has a sweeter flavour so is great in desserts or on its own.

Papaya contains papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins. Papain is especially high when the fruit is unripe and may be beneficial to those with digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome. Papain is also often extracted from the fruit to make digestive enzyme dietary supplements.

Papaya is a good source of vitamin C, folate, potassium, vitamins E, C, A and K as well as antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene.
Category: Fruit
In Season: all year
To Buy: When selecting a papaya examine it for bruises, soft spots and any other indications of damage. The fruit should be firm, but not too hard. Don't be put off by the smell, it's characteristic of the fruit. Papaya will ripen at room temperature so if you don't need it for a few days buy one that is slightly green.
To Store: Store unopened at room temperature for up to a week - opened it can be wrapped in plastic and kept in the fridge for 48 hours.
Tips & Tricks: Some sensitive individuals may experience respiratory difficulties from papaya. For most of us papaya is an extremely healthy food with antibacterial and antifungal properties. Aside from its health benefits, papain is also used in the following ways:
  • As a meat tenderiser
  • As an agent to filter and purify beer
  • To cleanse, soothe and heal the skin
  • As a home remedy for the treatment of jellyfish, bee and wasp stings when made into a paste with water.
  • Nutrition (Per serve):

    Weight (grams): 89
    Carbohydrates, g: 6.1
    Moderate GI 55 - 70: Glycaemic Index refers to the rate at which carbohydrate rich foods are converted to glucose for energy by the body; A moderate GI will release glucose into the bloodstream at a moderate rate.
    Fat (g): 0.1
    Monosaturated Fat , g: 0.0
    Vitamin C: Antioxidant, anti inflammatory and immune-boosting, this vitamin has a range of uses. Is essential for collagen formation, therefore plays a role in wound healing. Fights infection and protects against free radical damage. Vitamin C helps maintain normal cholesterol levels, promotes the absorption of iron and counters the effects of stress as it is concentrated in the adrenal glands.

Contraindications:
Large doses can cause diaorrhea or gas.
    Vitamin K: Vitamin K is used in the body to control blood clotting and is essential for synthesizing the liver protein that controls the clotting. It is involved in creating the important prothrombin, which is the precursor to thrombin - a very important factor in blood clotting. It is also involved in bone formation and repair. In the intestines it also assists in converting glucose to glycogen, this can then be stored in the liver. There are some indications that Vitamin K may decrease the incidence or severity of osteoporosis and slow bone loss. 

Contraindications:
Be careful not to take too much Vitamin K in the last stages of pregnancy, since it could be toxic for the baby.
    Potassium: Needed for normal growth and muscle and nerve contraction. Together with sodium regulates water and fluid balance in the body.
    Salicylates: Naturally occurring plant chemicals found in several fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs and spices, jams, honey, yeast extracts, tea and coffee, juices, beer and wines. Also present in flavourings, perfumes, scented toiletries and some medications.

For those with sensitivities, low foods are almost never a problem, moderate and high foods may cause reactions, depending on how sensitive you are and how much is eaten. Very high foods will most often cause unwanted symptoms in sensitive individuals. Moderate
    Energy (kJ): 125
    Low GI < 55: Glycaemic Index refers to the rate at which carbohydrate rich foods are converted to glucose for energy by the body; Low GI carbohydrtes release glucose is released slowly into the bloodstream and help to regulate energy levels and insulin production.
    Protein (g): 0.4
    Saturated Fat, g : 0.0
    Vitamin A: Often called the "anti-infective" vitamin, it protects the mucous membranes of the body, reducing chance of infection and enhancing the immune system's response. Necessary for growth and maintenenance of bones, teeth and body tissues and healthy foetal development, this vitamin is also important for night vision.

Contraindications:
Taken in excess will accumulate in the body.
    Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant and immune system stimulator, this vitamin is composed of a group of compounds called tocopherols. Protects the body from free radicals, improves oxygen and blood supply to the muscles and heart for better stamina, reducing blood pressure and imroving circulation. Prevents the oxidation of harmful LDL cholesterol and inhibits scar tissue formation in arteries and skin, and counters the effects of ageing.

Contraindications:
Taken in excess may cause toxicity. Not advised for patients taking Vitamin K or anti-coagulant medicine as it may counter or exacerbate effects.
    Folic Acid: Important during pregnancy as this vitamin is involved in the duplication of chromosomes, preventing birth defects. Lowers the risk of heart disease and is necessary for proper brain and gut function.
    Amines: Amines come the breakdown or fermentation of proteins. High amounts are found in cheese, chocolate, wine, beer and yeast extracts. Smaller amounts are present in some fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, avocados, bananas.

For those with sensitivities, low foods are almost never a problem, moderate and high foods may cause reactions, depending on how sensitive you are and how much is eaten. Very high foods will most often cause unwanted symptoms in sensitive individuals. Moderate
    Glutamates: Glutamate is found naturally in many foods, as part of protein. It enhances the flavour of food, which is why foods rich in natural glutamates such as tomatoes, mushrooms and cheeses are commonly used in meals. Pure monosodium glutamate (MSG) is used as an additive to artificially flavour many processed foods, and should be avoided, especially in sensitive individuals as it can cause serious adverse reactions. n/a

    Cooking:

    Cooking Tips: Slightly underripe papaya can be used to make refreshing salsas in the summer. Grate the flesh and mix it with sprouts, cucumber, chilli and lemon juice. Serve under grilled or BBQ'd fish. Also tastes great with a squeeze of lime juice and some cinnamon to complement the flavour.

    Benefits the Following Health Conditions:*

    Aches & Pains
    Cold and Flus
    Eye Problems
    Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    Arthritis
    Digestive Disorders
    Inflammation

    * This information is sourced by a qualified naturopath. It is non prescriptive and not intended as a cure for the condition. Recommended intake is not provided. It is no substitute for the advice and treatment of a professional practitioner.

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