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All about “Papaya”

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Nutritional value of papaya

  Fresh papaya, ½ fruit, 13 cm diameter / 150 g
Calories 59
Protein 0.9 g
Carbohydrates 15.0 g
Lipids 0.2 g
Dietary fiber 2.7 g
Glycemic load  : Moderate
Antioxidant power  : unknown

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2010.

Papaya health profile

The papaya is consumed simply fresh or dried as a snack . Its small black seeds have a slightly peppery flavor . Rich in fiber , it is a highly vitaminized fruit that contains several antioxidant substances .

The benefits of papaya

Several prospective and epidemiological studies have shown that a high consumption of vegetables and fruits decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other chronic diseases , 2 . The presence of antioxidants in vegetables and fruits may play a role in these protective effects 3 . Researchers have shown in vitro and in animals that papaya juice has antioxidant activity comparable to that of vitamin E, a well-known antioxidant 4 . It is best to consume papayaripe if you want to make the most of its antioxidant potential 5 .

  • Cancer . A study has shown that high consumption of vegetables and fruit, particularly the papaya , the watermelon and cantaloupe was associated with a decreased risk of suffering from breast cancer 15 . Other research has found that consuming papaya at least once a week lowers the risk of developing cervical cancer in women with human papillomavirus (HPV) 16 .

What does papaya contain?

The main phenolic compounds (a large family of antioxidants) contained in papaya are catechins 5 . A high intake of catechins is associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease 6 . Their health benefits have mostly been studied with green tea, which is known to be one of the best sources (it has at least twice the concentration of catechins than papaya) 17,18 . The specific effects of catechins in papaya are not yet well known.

Papaya contains beta-cryptoxanthin , an antioxidant from the carotenoid family that gives fruits and vegetables a yellow or orange color. Papaya is believed to be an important source of this carotenoid, which is a precursor of vitamin A (i.e. the body converts carotenoids into vitamin A as needed) 7 . Moreover, regular consumption of papaya could increase the blood level of beta-cryptoxanthin in humans 8 . This carotenoid is also thought to have anticarcinogenic activity observed in vitro and in animals 9 . It could also reduce the risk of atherosclerosis in humans7 .

Papaya also contains lycopene , another pigment from the carotenoid family, red this one. The more ripe the fruit, the more lycopene it contains 19 . Several studies have indicated that increased consumption of foods rich in lycopene decreased the risk of prostate cancer 20 .

The fresh papaya and juice would be better sources of carotenoids bioavailable as papaya dried 14 . Dried papaya, however, remains an interesting source.

Dietary fiber
Papaya is a source of dietary fiber 21 (2.7 g of fiber for ½ fruit) and can help satisfy appetite by quickly bringing a feeling of fullness 12 . A diet high in fiber is associated with a lower risk of colon cancer. It is recommended to consume 25g of fiber per day for women aged 19 to 50, and 38g per day for men in the same age group 13 .

Main vitamins and minerals

Vitamin C Papaya is an excellent source of vitamin C.
Vitamin A Papaya is a source of vitamin A for women , but not for men.
Vitamin B5 ( pantothenic acid) Papaya is a source of vitamin B5.
Vitamin B9 (folate) Papaya is a source of vitamin B9.
Vitamin E Papaya is a source of vitamin E.
Potassium Papaya is a source of potassium.


Papaya and anticoagulants
Papaya is one of the foods that can affect the blood level of anticoagulants 22 . Health Canada recommends that people who take anticoagulants (Coumadin®, Warfilone®, Sintrom®) daily not to consume too much papaya.

Allergy to papaya latex
The latex , a plant substance used in particular for the manufacture of medical gloves, may be associated with an allergy to certain foods, such as papaya 10.11 . It is therefore recommended that people allergic to latex perform food allergy tests. Other foods considered potentially associated with latex allergy include avocado, banana, chestnut, kiwi, apricot, and passion fruit 10 .

Recipe ideas

Papaya with lime and ginger
  • You can stuff papaya halves with pieces of banana, slices of kiwi and seasonal berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries). Cover the fruit with yogurt topped with honey or maple syrup. If desired, garnish with mint leaves.
  • Mix papaya pieces in a blender with yogurt or soy milk or coconut milk. Drink well chilled .
with papaya
  • The dried papaya can replace or accompany dried fruits in many recipes.
  • Fresh . Cut it into pieces and serve it with a lime or lemon wedge, or add it to a fruit salad . In this case, add it only when ready to serve, because it has the effect of softening the other fruits.
  • Firm papayas can be cooked and served like squash or sweet potatoes.
  • In mashed in cakes, pies, ice creams and sorbets.
  • Dip pieces into a chocolate fondue .
  • In vegetable salads . With avocado and sweet onion, all served on a bed of lettuce. With watercress, artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Add a dash of lime juice and chopped cilantro leaves.
  • The black seeds have a slight peppery flavor. Eat them as they are or put them in a blender with lemon juice and oil to make a salad dressing.
  • Papaya and crab salad . Mix cooked crab meat with finely chopped celery and chill in the refrigerator. Add the juice of half a lime, as well as slivered almonds, previously dry roasted in a pan. Stuff the peeled half-papayas with this preparation.
  • Original dessert . Serve pieces of papaya with couscous that will have cooked in the fruit juice of your choice.
  • Spring rolls with papaya . Cover rice leaves, previously soaked in water, with fresh basil leaves, mint and cilantro, papaya and cucumber strips. Roll up and chill in the refrigerator. Serve with a peanut butter sauce.
  • In French Guiana , it is stuffed into chicken breasts. Split these in the direction of the thickness so as to form a pocket which you will fill with pieces of papaya. Dip everything in a mixture of flour, beaten egg, grated coconut and breadcrumbs. Brown in oil. Season with chili and curry, deglaze the pan with white wine and serve with rice.
  • To tenderize tough meat , marinate it between two layers of papaya slices. Drizzle with a mixture of soy sauce, honey, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight if it’s beef, a few hours if it’s chicken. Then cook according to the recipe of your choice.

To access other recipes, you can go to the cooking recipes site, which offers the following recipes, among others: papaya gratin, papaya juice, green papaya salad

In sauces and salsas  :

  • Mix diced cucumber and diced papaya, sprinkle with a dash of lemon juice, season with fresh dill and pepper. This sauce goes perfectly with baked fish .
  • Cook tomatillos in chicken broth until tender. Add the chopped onion and sautéed in oil as well as the coriander leaves. Go through a blender with diced papaya, add a squeeze of lemon juice and serve with fish, chicken or seafood.
  • Combine fresh cilantro leaves, lime juice and hot pepper and let stand. Peel the papaya and dice it, mix with minced onion and garlic, as well as thin strips of red and yellow bell pepper. Add the preparation to the cilantro and let stand a few hours at room temperature. Serve with shrimp, scallops or fish .
  • Mix diced papaya and mango, add garlic, hot peppers, cilantro, olive oil and lime juice and let stand 1 hour before serving.
  • Caribbean salsa . Combine diced papaya, onion, and red and yellow bell peppers, cooked black beans, hot pepper, pineapple and lime juice, coriander leaves and ground cumin seeds.

Choice and conservation

Dried papaya

To choose

The papayas are in the year in trading since the papaya produced continuously. The skin of the fruit should be orange or green with traces of yellow. It should show no signs of browning, be smooth, and give way slightly under pressure. Avoid completely green and hard fruits, which will not ripen well unless you want to cook them.

Dried papaya is also found , but it usually has sulfur dioxide added and possibly sugar and a yellow coloring. Look for organic merchants.

To preserve

If the papaya is not perfectly ripe, store it at room temperature until fully ripe, then place it in the refrigerator where it will keep for a few days.

The little story of papaya


Common name: papaya.
Scientific name: Carica papaya.                                                                       Family: caricaceae.


The term ”  papaya  ” appeared in the language in 1579. It comes from papaya, a word belonging to the Caribbean spoken in the West Indies.

Unknown in the wild, the species Carica papaya probably arose from a spontaneous cross between two other native species. It seems that she comes from the lowlands of eastern Central America. The Amerindians would have introduced it to Mexico and South America. Its domestication and spread certainly happened a very long time before the Conquest, as when the Spaniards arrived it occupied an area from Mexico to Panama and displayed many different types. The Spanish and Portuguese will introduce papaya to the Philippines, India and parts of Africa. At the end of the XVII th  century, it was cultivated in all tropical regions of the globe.

About fifty countries produce papayas, the main ones being Brazil, Nigeria, India, Mexico, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Congo, Peru, China and Colombia. In many places, in addition to the ripe fruit , the immature fruit , young leaves and flowers are eaten . Other species of Carica are grown at high altitudes, where the common papaya cannot survive. Their fruits are generally unattractive when fresh and are mostly eaten cooked .

Papaya is also cultivated for the production of papain , a proteolytic enzyme found in the latex of leaves, stems and fruit. This enzyme has many industrial uses: treatment of meat to tenderize it, clarification of juice and beer, extraction of tuna liver oil, treatment of silk and wool before dyeing, hair removal on skin to be tanned, preparation of facial creams and cleansing creams, in particular for contact lenses. In addition, chymopapain , another enzyme obtained from this plant , is used medicinally .

Ecology and environment

Since 1998, the new papaya trees planted in Hawaii consist mainly of 2 genetically modified varieties. They have the virus gene for a disease called ”  ring spots  “, which has the effect of immunizing the plant against this disease. These varieties were created by researchers with the aim of saving the American papaya industry which, since the mid-1990s, had been threatened by the virus in question.

However, the results did not live up to expectations. The gene gave plants good resistance to ring spot disease, but on the other hand, it made them more susceptible to other diseases, including black spot disease , caused by a microscopic fungus. This forces growers to resort to more treatments against fungi.

There is also a very real problem of contamination of non-transgenic papaya trees by pollen from transgenic papaya trees . This happened in Hawaii, and organic growers had to destroy their plantations for this reason.

In Thailand, green papaya is a ubiquitous food. Papaya trees are found not only in orchards, but also in private gardens, schoolyards and other public places. The risk of contamination of local varieties by transgenic varieties is very high. In 2004, independent analyzes revealed that seed lots intended for sale and produced by the research station of the Ministry of Agriculture contained genetically modified (GM) papaya seeds. It should be noted that tests on these genetically modified organisms were banned in 2001, precisely in order to avoid the risk of genetic contamination.

GM papaya trees were also found at a grower who had obtained his seeds at the research station. This contamination occurred as a result of negligence on the part of the research station. The latter had isolated the experimental orchard of transgenic papaya trees from its other orchards only by a banana hedge and a barbed wire fence. This protection is clearly insufficient to prevent pollen from circulating from one place to another. In principle, the Thai government ordered the destruction of all transgenic papaya trees , but in practice, they were found again in 2005 in the northeast of the country.

A tall grass that bears fruit
Just like the coconut palm and the banana tree, the papaya is not a tree, but a giant semi-woody grass. The plant grows quickly, but lives a short time. The fruit, which has the particularity of growing directly on the trunk , can weigh, depending on the variety, from 250 g to 10 kilos.

In addition to the risk of contamination of local varieties, some fear that the widespread use of genetic modification could lead to the formation of new strains of virus which could have disastrous effects on the environment.

To limit the spread of the virus that affects papaya, Thai growers do not practice intensive monoculture, as is done in Hawaii. Rather, they traditionally grow it with other plants – mango, coconut, citrus and vegetable plants. This technique makes it possible to control the insect vectors of the virus by ecological means.

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