Fresh papaya is a sweet, juicy tropical fruit that has a bright golden-orange color and a flavor profile similar to melon. The fruit makes a popular ingredient in smoothies, milkshakes, and desserts.
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You can also toss chopped papaya chunks along with a bowl of greens to jazz up your salads. You may be interested to discover that papayas are lower in carbs before they’re fully ripe. In fact, grated green papaya makes a great Keto-friendly salad or slaw. I’ve included a delicious low carb recipe for Keto Thai Papaya Salad later in this article.
Papayas are more than just a sweet treat for the palate, the fruit also contains a plethora of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can have amazingly positive effects on your health.
Did you know that it may also help you in losing weight faster? Keep reading to find out how this fruit can help you on your weight loss journey.
Are Papayas Keto Friendly?
Most tropical fruits are not allowed on the keto diet – after all, they are super sweet, meaning they contain a high amount of natural sugar. If you’re following the keto diet, you should avoid fruits like mangoes, papayas, bananas, and pineapple.
With that being said, if you’re following a more liberal low carb diet, such as “dirty Keto,” you may wish to consume a small half-cup serving of chopped papaya (7.25 grams of carbs) or a quarter cup serving (4.5 grams of carbs).
How Many Carbs are in Papayas?
Fresh: One cup (145 grams) of 1-inch pieces of papaya contains 16 grams of total carbs and 14.5 grams of digestible net carbs after accounting for 2.5 grams of fiber. If you’re following a strict low carb diet, you may wish to limit your serving size to a half-cup, which contains a modest 7.25 grams of net carbs. Avoid juicing the fruit as it removes fiber and is more concentrated in sugar and carbs than the whole fruit.
Dried: A small 40-gram serving of dried papayas contains a whopping 33 grams of net carbs. Fresh papaya is a better choice for individuals trying to limit their carb intake.
Unripe (Green): A 100-gram serving of shredded green papaya contains 10 grams of carbs. Green unripe papayas are less sweet and make a wonderful low carb salad.
How Many Calories are in Papayas?
Fresh: One small papaya (about 157 grams) contains only 68 calories, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Filling up on fresh fruits like papaya is a great way to reduce the calories you consume throughout the day. Be sure to consume fruits whole to ensure you get all of the fiber as juicing can increase calories significantly.
Dried: A 40-gram serving of dried papayas contains 140 calories. Dried papaya is significantly higher in calories than the fresh whole fruit.
Unripe (Green): A 100-gram serving of shredded green papaya contains only 40 calories. Green papayas contain less sugar before they are ripe and provide fewer calories per serving.
|Serving: 1 Small Papaya |
|Total Fat||0 grams|
|Dietary Fiber||2.5 grams|
|Vitamin A||1,492 international units (IU)|
|Vitamin E||0.47 milligrams|
|Vitamin K||4.1 micrograms|
|Vitamin C||95.6 milligrams|
Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Papaya is rich in vitamin C, providing almost twice the required daily needs of this vitamin in one large papaya. This fruit is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, folate, potassium and zinc.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that slows the aging process and repairs bodily tissues. The vitamin C in papayas can boost your immune system and protect your body from a variety of illnesses and infections.
Vitamin A is vital for an excellent nutrient to support healthy vision. It also plays a key role in immune function, reproduction, and cellular health.
Antioxidants to Fight Disease
Papayas are rich in antioxidants, which protect cells from free radical damage and oxidative stress, lowering your risk of cancer and other diseases.
The fruit contains lycopene, an antioxidant characterized by its anti-cancer properties. This carotenoid is responsible for its natural pigment that gives papayas their bright orange color.
Papayas are also rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene. Studies show that beta-carotene offers protection from certain cancers, such as prostate cancer.
Supports Healthy Vision
Papayas contain another antioxidant called zeaxanthin which is linked to the prevention of age-related macular degeneration. For this reason, papayas may assist in the health of your eyes.
Promotes Heart Health
Papayas contain vitamin C, potassium, antioxidants, and fiber, which supports the health of your arteries and promotes blood flow. These nutrients can also lower cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Digestive and Gut Health
The fiber in papayas aids in digestive health by pulling toxins and cholesterol out of the body. Fiber also increases satiety so that you are less likely to overeat and become obese. Studies show that individuals who consume adequate amounts of fiber are at a lower risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers.
Additionally, papayas are good for the health of your gut as they contain an enzyme called papain, which aids in digestion. Their high water content ensures healthy water balance in the body and hydration to prevent constipation.
Supports Brain Health
A study conducted by the Geriatric Unit at the University of Palermo in Palermo, Italy found that extracts of fermented papaya powder may help counteract the effects of oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s patients to slow the progression of the illness.
Some people may be allergic to papayas. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology claims that if you are allergic to mango, pistachio, or cashews, you may also have an allergy to papaya.
One study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reports that there is a link between allergy to latex and allergy to a variety of fruits, including papaya.
If you suspect an allergy to papaya or to one of the other substances noted, contact your healthcare provider for an allergy screening before consuming the fruit.
Keto Thai Papaya Salad Recipe
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- juice from 2 limes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tablespoon sweetener
- 2 small tomatoes
- 1 small handful toasted peanuts, crushed
- 1 red chili, crushed
- 1 tablespoon dehydrated shrimp, crushed (optional)
- Crush chili and garlic in a pestle and mortar or mince by hand.
- Add peanuts, tomatoes cut into wedges and dried shrimp.
- Add fish sauce, lime juice and sweetener. Stir until sweetener dissolves.
- Taste. Adjust the amount of lime juice, fish sauce and sweetener to taste. Set aside and begin preparing the salad.
- 1 medium-sized rutabaga
- 1 small green papaya (unripe)
- 1/2 cucumber
- 5 parboiled haricot verts (thin French green beans)
- Peel the rutabaga and green (unripe) papaya and coarsely grate both into long thin slices.
- Cut the cucumber into thicker sticks.
- Cut haricot verts into 1/2 inch long pieces.
- Place vegetables in a bowl, pour in dressing and toss to fully combine. Leave to soak in dressing to allow the flavors to mingle for about an hour in the refrigerator before serving.
Are Papayas Good for Weight Loss?
Papaya is a low-calorie fruit that is completely fat-free. Eating papaya as a healthy snack between meals helps you stay full for longer, making it easier to resist overeating. You’ll also get the benefit of a little sweetness, to help curb sugar cravings.
Enjoy a bowl of chopped papaya for breakfast or toss a few chunks into your morning smoothie to increase taste, satiety and nutrients. Papaya will also help your body absorb protein, so it is especially helpful if you like to add protein powder to your smoothie.
What is the Best Way to Pick and Store Papayas?
The best way to determine ripeness is by the color of the fruit, not softness. Select papayas with more yellow skin than green. While green papayas are unripe and not as sweet, they do have their place in the culinary world, such as in green salads.
Avoid papayas that contain blemishes and choose those that are plump and smooth.
Papayas can be stored at room temperature until completely ripe (like on a sunny window sill). The fruit can then refrigerated, where they can be stored for up to a week.
Are Papaya Seeds Edible?
The papaya’s seeds are completely edible. They give off a slightly peppery flavor and deliver a nice crunch. They can add flavor to salads or used as a seasoning to garnish main dishes.
Simply scoop out the seeds and rinse them in water in a strainer to remove any residue. Then place them on a towel or a baking sheet to air-dry or toast them for a few minutes in the oven. Seeds can be added to food whole for crunch or you may prefer to grind them down before adding them to your dishes for a peppery flavor.
When are Papayas in Season?
Papayas peak from April to June, but they are usually available all year long. The fruit is grown in warm climates and imported from tropical locations to other countries with colder climates.