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Are Papayas Bad For You?

Also Known As: pawpaw



Short answer

Papaya is very healthy for you unless you are pregnant, in which case you would want to limit your consumption. The powerful nutrients in this fruit support many vital organs and systems throughout the body. Not only is papaya great for the internal body it has many benefits for the skin.



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Long answer

Papaya is good for you on many levels but is recently being recognized for its digestive benefits. Papaya contains the powerful enzyme papain which assists with the breakdown of proteins and allows for more efficient digestion and absorption of foods such as meats. Papain supports the intestines, stomach, and pancreas during the digestive process and unlike other pancreatic digestive enzymes does not require stomach acid to do so.  Papaya supplements have shown benefit in people with irritable bowel syndrome, decreasing the abdominal distention, flatulence, pain and irregular bowel patterns associated with this condition. Papaya supplements may also be beneficial in individuals that inflammatory bowel disease-Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Papaya is a nice source of fiber which will help keep the bowels regular and decrease constipation.

Papaya has natural anti-inflammatory properties. Papain has also been effectively used in the treatment of superficial skin wounds like burns, rashes, bug bites, ulcers, and bed sores when used as a poultice.  It can boost the immune system, fighting off infections specifically from fungi. A study from the University of Maryland Medical Center found that papain can even reduce prostate swelling associated with prostatitis. The benefits from this enzyme alone are huge!

Antioxidants in papaya fight free radical oxidative damage in the body that can damage and/or kill off cells and tissues in various regions. Free radical damage can increase inflammation, the risk of cancer development, and the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia. Papaya also contains the antioxidant zeaxanthin which can stave off the development and progression of macular degeneration in the eyes.

Aside from papain and the antioxidants it contains, papaya fights inflammation through the nutrient choline. Choline improves cellular membranes, fights chronic inflammation, reduces fat absorption, and improves sleep, muscle contractions, nerve impulses, learning and memory. It also supports energy and brain function along with B vitamins.

Papaya further contains beta-carotene which works in the body as a powerful antioxidant and precursor to vitamin A. The most notable benefits include fighting off cancers, specifically colon and prostate and decreasing the risk of asthma development.

There is also a good amount of vitamins C and E in papaya that benefits the cardiovascular system in multiple ways. It improves collagen growth which is important to the bones, joints, and cardiovascular structure. Vitamin C can help to reduce the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) by protecting the arteries against plaque formation along artery walls. Vitamin C reduces free radical damage and the oxidation of cholesterol which helps to eliminate LDL cholesterol and boost HDL cholesterol with the assistance of the enzyme paraoxonase.

Papaya also has wonderful topical properties and is very beneficial to our skin cells and hair.  Because papaya contains high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A and other important flavonoids, it is a great way to keep the skin healthy and wrinkle-free.  The nutrients in papaya help prevent free radical damage that can cause premature aging of the skin.  Papaya also removes dead skin cells and excess lipids from the surface of the skin, leaving it soft and smooth. Papain assists with reducing inflammation and helps prevent acne from forming.  The enzymes in papaya along with the vitamins, minerals and flavonoids leave the skin cleansed and elastic.  Papaya pastes have been used to treat viral and fungal infections of the skin, such as warts or ringworm. The papain destroys the protein layer that protects viruses and fungi and reduces their ability to reproduce.

Papaya (especially papaya that is unripe) should be consumed with care in pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant as overconsumption can lead to premature contractions and miscarriage.  Men should also take care not to consume papaya seeds regularly as it can lead to lower sperm count but some cultures actually ingest papaya seeds as a natural herbal birth control. 

Possible long-term side effects

  • overconsumption can cause uterine contractions
  • consuming seeds can decrease sperm count


  • greatly improves digestion, nutrient breakdown, and absorption
  • breaks down toxins
  • prevents free radical damage to cells, tissues
  • decreases the risk of neurodegenerative disease
  • maintains eyes health
  • fights the progression of macular degeneration
  • improves sleep, learning, memory, and muscle and nerve function
  • fights chronic inflammation
  • minimizes fat absorption
  • decreases risk of asthma development
  • fights cancer development
  • improves skin and hair health
  • natural anti-viral and anti-fungal
  • helps with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease
  • anti-aging properties
  • assists with cardiovascular health and blood lipids

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Mavuno Harvest Papaya

  • Organic dried fruit
  • No added sugar
  • Gluten-free snack
  • Vegan & Non-GMO
  • Direct trade sourced
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Dr. Becky Maes
Published on: 10-08-2016
Last updated: 12-01-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Dr. Becky Maes
Published on: 10-08-2016
Last updated: 12-01-2023

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