Papa`ya' or Papa`no'! Is Papaya A Friend Or Is It a Foe!

Papaya, the native of Central America, northern South America and southern Mexico is a fruit which doubles up as a vegetable when it is unripe. We Indians have made both the unripe and ripe variety an essential part of our daily diet, believing that the fruit has enormously beneficial properties. Sorry to disappoint all papaya fans, but papaya is not the repository of all things good only, it also has its share of negatives. Papaya should be eaten in moderation or there lurks the danger of exposing yourself to all kinds of side effects. One would do well to remember the adage that excess of anything is bad. By all means, do go ahead and stock up on dietary fiber, Vitamin C and other essential nutrients by consuming your slice of papaya, but at the same time be aware of the harm it might cause you.

Some of the problems that papaya has the potential to cause, if taken in excess:

  1. 1.Respiratory problems: The enzyme papain which is supposed to be an allergen is found in papaya. Excessive consumption of papaya (and papain) may lead to respiratory disorders like irregular breathing, blockage of the nasal passages, wheezing, hay fever and asthma.
  2. Carotenemia: Too much papaya in your diet can lead to a medical condition called carotenemia, which results in discolouration of the skin. The beta carotene present in papaya may turn the whites of your eyes, palms and soles turn as yellow as a patient of jaundice.
  3. Renal stone: Papaya is a very good source of Vitamin C. But excessive consumption of papaya might result in the accumulation of Vitamin C in excess in the body which in turn paves the way for the buildup of renal stones.
  4.  Constipation: Papaya is known to be an effective natural remedy for constipation, but ironically, its excessive intake might result in constipation.  Papaya is a high fibre fruit, you need to drink a lot of water, if you are having a slice too many.
  5. Unwanted termination of pregnancy: The latex present in papaya has the potential of terminating pregnancy by inducing uterine contractions.
  6. Interferes with Anticoagulant Medicines: Consumption of papaya is a bad idea for people who are on anticoagulant or blood thinning medicines because of the presence of the enzyme papain in it.

In addition to these major risks you may encounter some others too if you are excessively fond of the fruit.

 Well, every coin has two sides and nothing or no one is 100% perfect. So dear readers, have your daily dose of the papaya fruit undeterred. Just see to it that you are not overdoing it. The papaya fruit is said to have “about 88.8% water, 9.8 % carbohydrate, 0.8% fiber, 0.6% protein, 0.6% ash and 0.1% fat. A 100g (3.5 oz.) serving of papaya has 39 calories, compared to banana's 92 calories. Papayas also contain 16% more vitamin C than oranges and are a good source of vitamin A (about half of that contained in mango). Consumption of the fruit is reported to aid digestion because of the papain content.”

If taken in moderation, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Call it papaya, call it mikana or milikana or mapaia or he’i or pawpaw; have it raw or have it curried, don’t be unduly worried. Exercise caution and carry on, you will certainly achieve your mission.

Here’s to a happy and healthy you!


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