Papaya is a fruit that grows in tropical countries like India, Thailand, Philippines along with sub tropical countries like Brazil and Mexico. It is a round or pear-shaped fruit that is usually orange or yellow when it is ripe. Papaya is a very healthy fruit because it contains vitamins and minerals.
In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis on the potential for papaya to help manage diabetes. It is due to the fruit being a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin C, and other nutrients and its traditional use to treat various health conditions.
This article will examine the scientific evidence backing the use of papaya for diabetes management and look into this approach’s potential risks and limitations.
Nutritional Values of Papaya
According to the USDA, one hundred grams of raw papaya contains the following nutrients.
- Energy: 43kCal
- Carbohydrates: 10.8g
- Fibre: 1.7g
- Protein: 0.47g
- Sugars (Glucose + Fructose): 7.82g
- Calcium: 20mg
- Vitamin C: 60.9mg
- Vitamin A: 47µg
- Beta Carotene: 274µg
- Lycopene: 1830µg
- Vitamin K: 2.6µg
Various factors impact the nutritional value of papaya. Some examples are variety, ripeness, and size. For instance, unripened papayas contain less vitamin C and more carbohydrates than ripe ones.
Additionally, papayas produced through organic or sustainable farming practices may have slightly different nutrient levels than those grown conventionally.
The HealthifyMe Note
Papaya is an incredibly nutritious fruit rich in essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and protects the body from infections. In addition, vitamin A in papaya is suitable for healthy vision and skin. Beta-carotene helps protect the skin from UV ray damage. Additionally, papaya is an excellent source of folate, dietary fibre, potassium, magnesium, papain, antioxidants and phytochemicals. All these can reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and protect the heart.
Glycemic Index of Papaya
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a diet increases blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI are absorbed and digested quickly, leading to a sharp rise in blood sugar.
On the other hand, foods with a low GI take longer to digest and absorb, resulting in a slower and more gradual increase in blood sugar.
Data shows that papaya has a glycemic index (GI) of 60, which classifies it as a medium-GI food, and a glycemic load (GL) of 5.5, which classifies it as a low-GL food. While GI is helpful, it is not the only factor affecting blood sugar levels.
Serving size, other nutrients, and other factors can also play a role in determining how much papaya affects blood sugar levels. Nevertheless, people with diabetes can still enjoy papaya in moderation.
The following sections will provide further insight into papaya’s impact on blood sugar levels.
Papaya for Diabetes – An Overview
The impact of papaya consumption on blood sugar levels can depend on several factors, such as the ripeness of the fruit and the individual’s overall diet and health status.
In general, papaya is a medium-glycemic food, which means that it has a relatively lower effect on blood sugar levels than high-glycemic foods like white bread or sugary desserts.
That is because papaya contains a low amount of sugar and some fibre, which can help slow down sugar absorption into the bloodstream.
Papaya’s reasonable fibre content can help improve digestion, regulate the digestive process, and maintain normal blood sugar levels. However, it is essential to note that ripe papayas contain some sugar, which can affect blood sugar levels, especially for those with diabetes.
Therefore, people with diabetes should consume papayas in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. Moreover, they should also monitor blood sugar levels as advised by a healthcare professional.
Can Papaya Raise Blood Sugar Levels?
When consuming papaya, it is essential to remember that various factors can affect its impact on blood sugar levels. Some factors are the ripeness of the fruit, individual diet and health status, and medication regimen.
In addition, ripe papayas are usually sweeter and may contain a higher sugar content, which could affect blood sugar levels. Thus, it is essential to consume papaya in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
It is crucial to remember that people who take blood sugar-lowering medications should consult their healthcare provider before adding papaya to their diet or increasing their consumption.
That is because the fruit may interact with the medicines and lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Despite this, papaya can be a healthy, mid-glycemic option for many people. Therefore, it is essential to consider any personal health conditions and speak with a healthcare professional if necessary.
Papaya Benefit for Diabetes Patients
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterised by high blood glucose (sugar) levels. It results from either a lack of the hormone insulin, which is responsible for controlling blood sugar levels or by the body not responding to the insulin produced.
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1, which is caused by the body attacking the cells that make insulin in the pancreas, and type 2, which is caused by the body not responding correctly to the insulin produced.
Both types of diabetes can have serious consequences, such as heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, blindness, and amputations. For this reason, people with diabetes need to manage their blood sugar levels effectively.
Papayas may offer some benefits to those with diabetes, such as:
Low Glycemic Index
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels.
For example, papaya has a moderate glycemic index, which means it is less likely to cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. Furthermore, papaya has a low glycemic load, meaning it is safe for people with diabetes to consume it in moderation.
Adequate Fibre Content
Papaya is high in fibre, which helps slow down sugar absorption into the bloodstream.
As a result, it can help to keep blood sugar levels stable and prevent blood sugar spikes after meals.
Papaya contains antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. As per research, these antioxidants can help protect cells against the damage caused by high blood sugar levels.
As a result, it can help reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease and nerve damage.
Papaya contains an enzyme called papain which can help break down protein and improve digestion. It may also help to lower blood sugar levels by inhibiting the absorption of carbohydrates.
Research has indicated that modest weight loss is essential for individuals who are overweight/obese or have been diagnosed with prediabetes. This weight loss can have a positive effect on diabetes management.
Eating papaya may be beneficial for weight management, as it contains low-calorie and high-fibre levels and is a nutrient-rich food.
Eating high-fibre foods like papaya can also make you feel full, reducing the chances of overeating and gaining weight. In addition, it is vital for people with diabetes, as being overweight can lead to serious long-term health issues.
Inflammation is a significant factor in the onset, progression, and consequences of diabetes.
The antioxidants in papaya have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help reduce inflammation in people with diabetes. Research also shows that papaya contains anti-inflammatory and anti-modulatory properties.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that people with diabetes are at a higher risk of cardiovascular issues. Therefore, adequate blood sugar management is crucial for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Papaya is an excellent source of beneficial antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene, which protect the heart by neutralising free radicals that can cause cell damage.
It is also high in fibre, which helps to reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease. Additionally, papaya is rich in potassium, a mineral that helps to reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
Papaya contains phytochemicals such as lycopene, which can reduce inflammation and protect the heart. The high potassium content in papaya also helps to lower blood pressure, reducing the chances of developing heart disease.
The HealthifyMe Note
Papaya may help manage diabetes, a chronic condition marked by high blood sugar levels. Potential advantages of papaya for diabetes include blood sugar control, greater insulin sensitivity, decreased inflammation, and improved cardiovascular health. In addition, ripe papayas have a low to moderate GI, whereas unripe papayas have a moderate to high GI.
Ways to Consume Papaya for Diabetes
There are many healthy ways to incorporate papaya into a diabetic-friendly diet. Here are a few Indian-style recipes and serving suggestions:
1. Papaya Salad
- Grate or finely chop ripe papaya and mix it with some chopped onions, tomatoes, and cilantro
- Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt to taste
- Enjoy the refreshing and low-calorie salad high in fibre and antioxidants
2. Papaya and Curd
- Mix mashed ripe papaya with some beaten curd
- Add a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and a sprinkle of roasted cumin powder
- Enjoy your nutritious and light snack low in sugar and high in probiotics
3. Papaya and Sprouts
- Mix mashed ripe papaya with some sprouts (like moong, chana or matki) and chopped onions and tomatoes
- Season with Himalayan pink salt, lemon juice, and freshly chopped cilantro
- You can enjoy a high-fibre, protein-rich dish low in sugar as a side dish or even a main course
4. Papaya and Vegetable Smoothie
- Blend ripe papaya with some greens of your choice like spinach, mint and some vegetables like cucumber, carrots, and a bottle-gourd
- Do not strain and serve the nutritious and refreshing drink low in sugar and high in vitamins and minerals.
5. Papaya and Oats
- Mix mashed ripe papaya with some cooked oats, and add some chopped nuts
- Eat a nutritious and filling breakfast or snack low in sugar. It is also your portion of food high in fibre and healthy fats.
The HealthifyPro Tip
If you are considering using papaya to help manage diabetes, it is essential to consult a nutritionist.
A nutritionist can advise you on the right amount and frequency of papaya intake based on your individual needs and goals. They can also discuss how papaya might interact with any medications you are taking and any dietary restrictions you may have.
A HealthifyMe nutritionist can help you incorporate papaya into your diet healthily and sustainably and suggest other methods for controlling blood sugar levels.
In addition, HealthifyMe Pro can be your companion in managing diabetes like a Pro. For example, the Continuous Glucose Monitor can alert you if papaya consumption leads to a significant spike in your blood sugar levels.
Papaya can be a beneficial food choice for those with diabetes due to its low glycemic index and high fibre content. These nutrients can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve digestion.
In addition, the antioxidants in papaya can further protect against cell damage from high blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.
It is vital to consume papaya in moderation as part of a balanced diet and monitor blood sugar levels. Additionally, people taking blood sugar-lowering medications should speak with their healthcare provider before adding papaya to their diet, as it may affect their medications and lead to hypoglycemia. All in all, when consumed in the right way, papaya can be a delicious and nutritious addition to a diabetic-friendly diet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: How much papaya can a diabetic eat a day?
A: There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as it depends on various factors, including the individual’s health status and other medications they are taking. Generally, however, a person with diabetes may be able to consume ½ to 1 cup of papaya per day. Speaking with your healthcare provider to find out what is best for you is crucial.
Q: Does papaya have a lot of sugar?
A: Although papaya contains a reasonable amount of natural sugar, it is an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C, and vitamin A. However, the amount varies depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Additionally, it is essential to remember that natural sugars in whole foods like papaya are typically less damaging than added sugars in processed foods.
Q: Can papaya raise blood sugar?
A: Papaya can only raise blood sugar levels if consumed excessively. That is because it contains a moderate amount of natural sugar. Furthermore, it has a medium glycemic index. However, the benefits of consuming papaya, such as its high vitamin, mineral, and dietary fibre content, can outweigh the risk of a temporary rise in blood sugar levels. Therefore, eating papaya in moderation and alongside other foods can help balance out its sugar content and make it a healthy addition to your diet.
The Research Sources
1. The U S Department of Agriculture
2. The Glycemic Index Information
3. Mohammad Rahimi-Madiseh, Afsaneh Malekpour-Tehrani, Mahmoud Bahmani, Mahmoud Rafieian-Kopaei, The research and development on the antioxidants in the prevention of diabetic complications, Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, Volume 9, Issue 9, 2016, Pages 825-831, ISSN 1995-7645, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apjtm.2016.07.001.
4. Franz MJ. Weight Management: Obesity to Diabetes. Diabetes Spectr. 2017 Aug;30(3):149-153. doi: 10.2337/ds17-0011. PMID: 28848305; PMCID: PMC5556579.
5. Saurabh Pandey, Peter J. Cabot, P. Nicholas Shaw & Amitha K. Hewavitharana (2016) Anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties of Carica papaya, Journal of Immunotoxicology, 13:4, 590-602, DOI: 10.3109/1547691X.2016.1149528
6. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention