Papaya Nutrition Facts & Benefits
Papaya is a fruit that is rich in valuable nutrients, and it has a delicious taste. Papayas are pear-shaped and contain carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate (vitamin B9), potassium, a trace amount of calcium, magnesium, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin E and vitamin K.
This fruit also contains healthy antioxidants called carotenoids and they are exceptionally high in a type of carotenoid called lycopene. Free radicals that are created during your metabolism can be neutralized by these antioxidants found in papaya so that they can no longer harm your body.
There is a number of advantages of eating papaya, such as lycopene in papaya can reduce cancer risk, the antioxidants in papaya may improve heart health, papaya fights inflammation, may improve digestion and it also protects against skin damage.
However, this delicious and versatile fruit is avoided during pregnancy because it is believed that papaya can cause miscarriage or even natural abortion.
The Effect Of Papaya on Pregnancy
Ripe papaya is harmless during pregnancy. According to a research done by British journal of nutrition in 2007 reviled that the ripe papaya is harmless for pregnant rats and it didn’t cause any unnatural contractile effect on uterine. But it seems that unripe papaya is unsafe for pregnant women.
Ripe papaya can be eaten raw; however, unripe papaya is best consumed cooked, especially during pregnancy. This is because the unripe papaya is known to contain a high latex content, which can stimulate contractions.
However, all women are supposed to be very careful while consuming papaya during pregnancy. Unripe or even semi-ripen papaya has latex which may start uterine contractions; this will encourage synthetic labor which leads to miscarriage and natural abortion in pregnant women.
Another reason to consider papaya as unsafe fruit during pregnancy is that it contains pepsin and papain which can reduce the growth and development of your fetus. Sometimes papain can wreck the possibility of the fetus’s survival and also having papaya during pregnancy can cause anti-implantation, increased chances of post-implantation pregnancy loss and toxicity for the embryo.
Papaya or papain is sometimes recommended to treat indigestion, which is a common side effect of pregnancy. Anyhow, a fully ripe papaya is not thought to be a problem for pregnant women.
However, it is not known for sure whether papaya is completely safe during pregnancy. Because of the bad effects that occur by consuming papaya during pregnancy, you will definitely want to avoid it from your daily meal.
But if you are a hard papaya lover and just can’t wait for nine months to have it, you can have papaya, but with a lot of extra care, because as a conceived mother you have to take care of your unborn child.
The Effect Of Papaya on Menstrual Cycle
Because of these uterine contractions caused by the unripe fruit, papaya is usually advised to be eaten when women have irregular menstruation. This means that papaya is a powerful emmenagogue known to regulate the menstrual cycle.
Every woman has different cycles of periods. Some women get their period every 28 days like clockwork, and this might not be the same for the others. Sometimes, menstruation may skip months while for some it might come at different times in a month.
Many young women also complain about having shorter or longer cycle than 28 days. These irregularities can occur for a variety of reasons; some inconsistencies can be normal while the others may be due to a lifestyle that can be changed or may be a sign of a medical problem that needs treatment.
If you are having delayed period, shorter period, irregular period or painful period, you can have papaya to solve all your menstrual problems. You can either use ripe or raw papaya for period problems. By eating papaya regularly, you can witness the change in your menstrual problems.
Raw papayas contain a lot of substances that help in stimulating the production of estrogens in the body, which results in normalizing the menstrual cycle. Also, raw papaya helps in increasing the blood flow during menstruation as it enables the proper functioning of the uterus muscles, and this helps your body to perform menstruation naturally.
However, it is important to know that raw papaya can help you in normalizing your menstrual cycle, but ripe papaya won’t show a significant change.
Unripe papaya contains the enzyme papain which helps to prevent the production of progesterone hormone, which is needed to prepare the uterus for conception and maintain pregnancy, and papain can break down the integrity of a membrane vital to the development of the fetus.
That is why it is always safe to seek advice from your family doctor before adding something to your pregnancy diet.
Dr. Nuwanthi Fernando, MD
Member of the European Medical Writer’s Association