Papayas are a soft, fleshy fruit that some people may consume to try and lose weight. While more research is necessary to explore the potential weight loss benefits of papayas, preliminary evidence suggests the fruit may have anti-obesity properties.
Papaya, also known as papaws or pawpaws, is a popular fruit that people can use in various culinary ways. Proponents of papaya suggest that as it is a low-calorie fruit, rich in fiber, and may aid digestion, it can help fill people up and make them feel less bloated.
Keep reading to learn about papaya’s nutritional information and potential health benefits.
While researchers need to conduct more studies on whether papayas help with weight management, early research in animal studies shows promising results.
In a 2020 study, scientists fed rats a high fat diet, resulting in weight gain and high cholesterol levels. After adding fresh papaya juice to the rats’ diet, the rodents lost weight and had healthier cholesterol levels.
A 2019 article evaluated the effect of papaya pulp, leaves, and seeds on metabolic syndrome in rats and risk factors that may raise the risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
The authors found that the pulp, leaves, and seeds of papayas reduced blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, which, in turn, may help prevent obesity.
While more research in human models is necessary, a 2013 study notes that papaya exhibits characteristics that may help with the management of obesity and maintaining body weight.
If people would like to include papaya in their diet, the following tips suggest how they may incorporate them into a daily eating plan:
- eating a dish of papaya chunks mixed with berries at breakfast
- including papaya chunks in oatmeal or a breakfast cereal
- adding papaya chunks to a fruit salad
- mixing papaya chunks in a vegetable, tuna, or chicken salad to add a little sweetness
- having a serving of papaya slices for a snack instead of chips
- mixing papaya chunks with plain yogurt for a dessert
- putting slices of papaya on a whole grain waffle
- blending papaya chunks, yogurt, and a banana to make a smoothie
A 2015 review notes that papaya contains lots of vitamins and enzymes and a wide range of pharmacological properties.
Potential health benefits may include:
Preventing cardiovascular disease
Research suggests that eating fruit is inversely related to the risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2017 study notes that papaya, in particular, may be beneficial due to its antihypertensive effects, which may help lower blood pressure.
Help digestive disorders
Many people may use papayas or the enzymes present in papayas to remedy digestion problems. While there is not much evidence on this, research does show that papaya may help reduce constipation and bloating.
While research is scarce and more human studies are necessary, a 2016 review suggests that papaya displays anti-inflammatory properties.
Reduces risk of eye conditions
A 2013 article suggests that a compound commonly found in some fruits, such as papaya, may promote eye health. It may help lower the risk of macular degeneration, which is the loss of central vision, and cataracts, which cause clouding of lenses in the eye and decreased vision.
Improve general health through fiber
Fiber is one of the main constituents of papayas. Consuming fibrous foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, has many potential health benefits, such as protecting against diabetes, colorectal cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
As there is limited research on papayas and diet, there is not much information on potential risks. However, some anecdotal reports suggest that papaya extract or supplements may cause nausea or vomiting.
Researchers have not fully investigated the safety of papaya supplements, so people should be cautious if they start taking them. As with any supplement, it is advisable to discuss taking them with a doctor before use.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggest the following tips for using supplements safely:
- Beware of bold health claims about the effectiveness or safety of the product.
- Remember that just because the product is natural, that does not always mean it is safe.
- Use reliable sites for information, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the FDA.
- If using supplements, the FDA recommend choosing high-quality products that have undergone third-party testing.
It is unlikely that people will experience any adverse effects if they incorporate the recommended amount of papaya fruit into their diet.
Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise are key components of weight loss. Below are recommendations from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) for a healthy diet:
- focus on eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products
- include nuts, eggs, beans, lean meat, poultry, and fish in the diet
- avoid salty and sugary foods
- limit foods with saturated and trans fat, such as fatty meats and processed baked goods
- be careful with portion sizes
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, many people can maintain their weight with 150–300 minutes of moderate exercise per week. An example of this type of physical activity is brisk walking.
A person may do the recommended daily exercise in one session or several sessions. It is best to check with the doctor before starting a regular exercise routine.
Some research suggests the value of papaya for weight loss. Papayas contain many beneficial compounds, such as vitamins A and C, which may help promote aspects of health.
Try consuming papaya as a snack, in a smoothie, or as part of a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet.
However, it is important to note that just eating papaya will not lead to weight loss. Instead, people should incorporate papaya as part of a healthy diet and include physical activity to manage weight.