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Health Benefits Of Raw Papaya And Why It Is Better Than Ripe Ones

Raw papaya or unripe papaya is the papaya fruit picked when they are unripe and green, unlike the ripe ones which are picked when orange-yellow in colour. The prior has crunchy white pulp and has quite a different taste and texture than the latter.

People prefer raw papaya fruit due to the multiple benefits it provides, sometimes even more than the ripe ones. Also, raw papaya is easy to consume and make for the best snack in dishes like salad, dessert, pickle or smoothie.

In this article, we will discuss some of the amazing health benefits of raw papaya and how, in some ways, it is better than ripe papaya. Take a look

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According to the USDA, 100 g of raw papaya contains 88.1 g of water and 179 kJ of energy, It also contains the aforementioned nutrients.

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Raw Papaya Vs Ripe Papaya

Raw papaya is better than ripe papaya in ways like:

  • It is low in sugar. The concentration of sugar increases as it ripens. [1]
  • It provides a high amount of energy.
  • It has high fibre and low-fat content.
  • It is high in mineral potassium and magnesium, followed by phosphorus and sodium. [2]
  • It is high in active enzymes papain and chymopapain that has multiple functions in the body.
  • Raw papaya naturally contains latex that has great cleansing properties.
  • It is high in beta-carotene and lycopene compared to ripe papaya, carrot and tomato. [3]
  • The moisture content in unripe papaya is low that indicates it could be stored for a longer period without spoilage.
  • It is less susceptible to microbial growth.
  • It is high in phytochemicals like alkaloids, saponins, cardenolides, tannins and anthraquinones.[2]
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Health Benefits Of Raw Papaya

1. Promotes good digestive health

Raw papaya is used as a natural remedy to treat many gastrointestinal problems, as said in a study. It may help treat abnormal digestion, heartburn, bloating, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal worms and many dysfunctions of the digestive tract. This could be because of the presence of two potent natural enzymes papain and chymopapain, and an abundance of dietary fibre. [4]

2. Boosts immune system

The immunomodulating effect of raw papaya is mainly due to the presence of vital antioxidants like saponins, tannins, beta-carotene, magnesium and flavonoids. These antioxidants help maintain the body's defence system by increasing the levels of IgG and IgM antibodies which effectively help fight against pathogens entering the body. [5]

3. Reduces the risk of heart diseases

Cardenolides and saponins in raw papaya fruit may help treat congestive heart failure by strengthening the contraction of the heart muscles. Also, beta-sitosterol and quercetin in raw papaya may help promote absorption of cholesterol by the intestines, thus reducing its amount in the blood and the risk of heart diseases like stroke and heart attack. Magnesium also helps maintain a healthy heartbeat. [6]

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4. Has chemopreventive properties

A study has shown that unripe papaya can inhibit activity against tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha) with 71.2 per cent due to its anti-inflammatory activities. TNF alpha is responsible for signalling the cells to induce acute inflammation leading to apoptosis or risk of cancer. With potent anti-inflammatory properties, raw papaya may help the proliferation of cells and prevent cancer risk. [7]

5. Cleanses colon

Papain, vitamins and dietary fibre in papaya act as great cleansing agents and help cleanse the body and remove toxins. Studies say that when raw papaya is consumed on an empty stomach, it clears the gastrointestinal tract and flushes out toxins. Avoid eating anything for at least an hour after consuming raw papaya for better results.

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6. Manages diabetes

Studies say that high amounts of minerals like potassium, magnesium, zinc, chromium and calcium in raw papaya can help maintain glucose levels in the body and property stimulate the release of insulin. Also, raw papaya inhibits the key enzymes in the body responsible for type 2 diabetes and thus, help in the management of diabetes. [8]

7. Helps in weight loss

Compared to ripe papaya, raw ones are low in calories and high in dietary fibre and resistant starch. It helps lower the total cholesterol levels and promotes a healthy weight. Essential enzymes like papain in unripe papaya also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress which is responsible for triggering obesity. [9]

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8. Protects against infections

According to a study, the pulp of raw papaya fruit is a popular traditional herb with antimicrobial properties against bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus and many others. This helps protect against various infections such as urinary tract infections. [10]

9. Helps in wound healing

Would healing is among the many essential properties of raw papaya. In people with diabetes, wound healing is significantly slow and are difficult to manage despite proper care. Some studies say raw papaya can be used as a concoction or herbal medicine to effectively manage wounds caused due to high glucose levels in the body. Raw papaya also helps heal other wounds types when followed by medications. [11]

10. Increases breast milk

Some studies mention that proteolytic enzymes papain and chymopapain in raw papaya may benefit nursing mothers and help increase the production of breast milk. Also, papaya is often considered ‘SAFE' by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Other vital vitamins and minerals in raw papaya also help maintain the quality and supply of breast milk and benefit newborns too. [12]

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11. Good for skin

A study has shown that topical application of unripe papaya can help promote healing and desloughing of chronic skin ulcers and treat it effectively. Raw papaya is also good for many skin problems and may help treat blemishes, sun damage, acne and ageing problems. It may help promote lightning of the skin and maintain skin moisture. [13]

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Side Effects Of Raw Papaya

  • When taken in large amounts, the papain in raw papaya can cause damage to the oesophagus.
  • The latex in raw papaya can cause burn to the skin, rashes, itching or other allergic reactions when applied topically.
  • Raw papaya has more contraceptive potential than ripe papaya. The enzymes in the prior may induce uterine contraction and increase the risk of abortion in pregnant women. [14]
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    How to Include Green Papaya In Your Diet?

    Green papaya, though less sweet than ripe papaya, has unique flavours and is crunchy and has crispy pulp. It can be included in foods such as:

    • Fruit salad
    • Soups
    • Pickles
    • Tangy candies
    • Curries
    • Pancakes
    • Chutneys
    • Meat dishes
    • To Conclude

      Both raw and ripe papaya are good for health. Raw papaya is rich in certain essential enzymes which are not found or found in minimal amounts in ripe papaya and vice versa. Therefore, it leaves you to choose which one you like the most depending on your taste preference and the health benefits you desire. The best way is to include both of them equally in your diet. Consult a dietician or a medical expert for any clarifications.

Is raw papaya good for health?

Yes, raw papaya is good for health and in some ways, even nutritious than ripe papaya. Raw papaya contains large amounts of active enzymes papain and chymopapain, dietary fibre, magnesium, beta carotene and latex which provides an abundance of health benefits. These compounds are absent or low in ripe ones.

Can we eat raw papaya?

Yes, raw papaya, similar to ripe papaya, can be eaten in many ways such as salads, curries, soup, jams and chutneys. However, avoid eating raw papaya in excess as the latex and enzymes in the fruit may damage the oesophagus. Also, avoid consumption when you are pregnant as it may increase the risk of miscarriage. 

Who should not eat papaya?

Although raw papaya fruit is considered SAFE by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for many groups of people, some people like pregnant ladies, people on blood-thinning medications, people with certain allergies and people with hypoglycemia are suggested to avoid the fruit or consume after consulting a medical expert.