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Papaya Seeds: Nutritional Health Benefits & Side Effects

By Shabana

A variety of fruits vegetables and other plant produce have always been a huge part of our ancestors' diets. And this must have been the main reason for the life expectancy being high during those times.

Nature is filled with goodness at every step. Everything that is offered by nature to us is indeed to some use and nothing goes waste. This statement is reinstated with the fact that even the seeds of the fruits are of nutritious value. Though most of the seeds of the fruit are usually discarded by us, the recent trends on healthy eating have increased the awareness towards the seeds of certain fruits being quite healthy and jam-packed with nutrition. Here we will be talking about the seeds of papaya.

Papaya seeds are thrown away by people who think that they are inedible. In fact, papaya seeds are completely edible and are full of nutrition as well. If you have heard of your elders saying that these seeds are bad for your health, then it is important for you to know that they can indeed harm your health, if consumed in excess quantities.

Nutritional Information

Papaya seeds are an excellent source of nutrients such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, fibre, protein and antioxidants [1] . They are high in fat and contain monounsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid. The seeds also contain traces of the mineral iron.

Based on a study by Godson E. NWOFIA, Philippa. C. Ojimelukwe and Chinyere in the year 2012 [2] , the nutritional composition of 100 g of papaya seeds (oblong red variety) in five Paw paw morphotypes were reported as follows:

  • 2.63 per cent protein
  • 43.61 per cent carbohydrates
  • 46.76 mg calcium
  • 10.40 mg magnesium
  • 241.50 mg phosphorus
  • 11.73 mg vitamin C
  • 0.26 mg niacin
  • 0.05 mg thiamine
  • 0.05 mg riboflavin
  • 65.64 IU beta-carotene

Amazing Health Benefits Of Papaya Seeds

1. Prevent cancer

The ingredient commonly found in papaya seeds called benzyl glucosinolate is known to prevent the spread of cancer cells and curb their activity [3] . This is one of the most important and widely known qualities of papaya seeds. The extracts of these seeds are also extensively studied and used to treat various types of cancer in present times.

2. Reduce inflammation

Inflammation is said to be the main cause of various diseases in humans such as cancer and diabetes. Studies have found that the phytochemicals extracted from papaya seeds are known to reduce inflammation, thereby, decreasing the chances of illnesses [4] .

3. Curb the growth of bacteria and other pathogens

Papaya seeds are known to possess strong antibacterial powers, which can prevent bacterial infections from spreading in the body [5] . They also contain an alkaloid 'carpaine' which alkalises intestines and kills amoeba, parasites and worms.

4. Prevents the body from oxidative stress

The juice made from the seeds of papaya is efficient in curbing the effects of free radicals in our body and prevent it from oxidative stress and damage [6] .

5. Cures liver cirrhosis

Papaya seeds contain certain important nutrients that help to detoxify the liver and treat liver cirrhosis [7] . Around 5-6 papaya seeds can be ground to make juice. Consuming this daily with help you manage the condition and also aid in liver detoxification.

Side Effects Of Eating Papaya Seeds In Excess

1. May irritate the stomach

Papaya contains some compounds which can upset the stomach if consumed in excess quantities. These compounds can further damage the inner linings of the stomach and increase the acidity. When these compounds reach the intestines in concentrated quantities, they cause impairment of the intestinal functions. [8]

2. May lead to a miscarriage

It is a well-known fact that papaya should be consumed in extremely limited quantities during pregnancy and the same goes for the papaya seeds as well. An active ingredient present in the papaya seeds, called benzyl isothiocyanate, may cause premature contractions, which may most certainly lead to an early delivery [9] . Consuming the seeds early on in the pregnancy can lead to a miscarriage as well.

3. Cause damage to the uterine walls

Studies have found that the active phytochemicals present in the papaya seeds can cause irreparable damage to the uterine walls in women [10] . It is also known to contribute to an irregular menstrual cycle, making it quite difficult to conceive.

4. Decrease fertility in men

Regular consumption of papaya seeds is known to inhibit sperm production in men and result in infertility [11] . Though it can be used as a natural contraceptive, people usually do not have an idea regarding the safe amount of papaya seeds to be consumed. Therefore, it leads to high chances of overdosing and giving way to infertility.

5. Can cause allegies

The pollen of the papaya and its seeds are known to contain a biochemical which can cause allergies in individuals with allergies [12] . People with asthma are more prone to these flare-ups. Certain symptoms of such allergic reactions are swelling of the face or itching sensation on the throat.

6. Has blood thinning qualities

The common enzyme found in papaya seeds called papain is known to have blood thinning properties [13] . This can be very harmful to individuals who are already on blood thinning medications. Thinning of the blood unnecessarily may lead to excess blood loss even through a cut or a bruise. It can also have an adverse effect on the functions of the heart, eventually.

7. Cause discolouration of the skin

The high levels of carotene found in the seeds of papaya can cause discolouration of the skin, if consumed in excess quantities [14] . This condition called carotenemia leads to yellow-orange pigmentation of the skin. Though the condition is not harmful in any way, it is often confused with jaundice.

8. Increase the toxicity levels in the urinary bladder

The benzyl isothiocyanate present in the papaya seeds is known to have a toxic effect on the urinary bladder [15] . This can have a direct effect on the normal functioning of the organ and can have devastating long term effects on our health.

9. Lead to DNA damage

The active ingredients of the papaya seeds can be quite harmful to the delicate DNA cells of our body [16] . In fact, it can even lead to alterations in the DNA structure of the cells, which can be quite toxic in the long run.

10. May be harmful to the unborn baby

Papaine, an active ingredient found in papaya seeds, can be quite harmful to the unborn baby if consumed in excess quantities. It can lead to foetal impairment or even embryotoxicity [17] . Thus, pregnant women are advised to stay away from consuming papaya seeds.

How To Properly Extract And Store Papaya Seeds

Buying fruits seeds from stores can be quite expensive. But you can always extract them and store at home. The seeds of a freshly cut papaya can be scraped, air-dried and stored in an airtight jar. It is important to ensure that the seeds do not have any amount of moisture in them before storing. You need to keep them frozen in order to prevent them from spoilage. They can be stored this way for months. Do remember to thaw them before consuming.

If you haven't tasted papaya seeds before, they can taste a bit strong. But once you get used to their taste, they offer you a host of benefits.

How To Consume Papaya Seeds

So how much papaya seeds are considered to be safe to consume? Well, a small teaspoon of papaya seeds can be consumed every alternate day. Do remember to consult your dietician if you are on certain medications as they may interfere with its functions.

There are many different ways in which you can use papaya seeds. The most popular method of consuming papaya seeds is in the powder form. Sun-dried papaya seeds can be ground into a fine powder and used to top salads. You can even sprinkle the powder on your favourite drink or smoothie. In fact, you can be as creative with them as you want.

Adding them to your soups, eggs or morning cereals are some other ways to add these nutrient-rich seeds in your daily diet. However, it is suggested never to go overboard with the suggested quantity. Knowing the safe amounts will let you enjoy the amazing benefits that papaya seeds have to offer, without worrying about the numerous side effects.

View Article References
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