Skip to main content

The Many Ways We Use Papaya

Living on a farm in Brazil, I've gained local in-depth knowledge of food, plants, and traditions, which I share through my articles.



Papaya Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Few foods can provide you with as much goodness as papaya. Rich in vitamin c and antioxidants, this fruit is beneficial not just internally but also externally. The term superfood is thrown around a lot these days, and it's difficult to know if we should eat copious quantities to ensure our good health or if it is just another case of media hype.

Before you go racing to the supermarket to stock up on this miracle of nature, you will want to know the whole truth. As with so many natural products, science is still learning just how powerful they can be and how cultures of areas where papaya naturally grows have been using them in their daily lives for many generations.

Papaya as a Digestive Aid

Where papaya is traditionally grown, it's often eaten as a dessert. The reason for this is that papaya contains the enzyme (papain), which breaks down meat fibers and helps the body digest meat more efficiently.1 For some people, their metabolism is slow to break down food such as meat, which often gets worse as we age and are less active. Eating papaya may help with this, reducing that bloated feeling that sometimes happens after a meal when meat is consumed. It's a natural way to help the body's digestion work better.

Tenderize Meat With Papaya

Wrapping meat in papaya leaves or making a paste from the pulp will tenderize it.2 If you check the ingredients on a jar of meat tenderizer, you'll probably see papain, this is the enzyme in papaya that breaks down meat fibers. Papaya has been used for centuries in South America as a natural meat tenderizer.

Where I live in Brazil, cattle are often free-range, and many are quite old before they are sent to market. Both of these contribute to beef which, although tasty, is fibrous and tough. The use of papaya leaves helps to relax and begin to break down the stringy meat. It's still a natural way to soften cheaper cuts of older beef in many parts of rural South America.

Using Papaya as a Hair Conditioner

Because of the moisturizing properties of papaya, it's often found as one of the main ingredients in hair care products. The vitamin A in papaya helps the scalp produce sebum that keeps the hair healthy.3 Although they are available to buy, you can easily make a hair treatment at home.

Use one ripe papaya and natural yogurt. Peel the papaya and remove the seeds. Cut into cubes and place in blender. Add a small pot of yogurt and enough water to make it blend. Apply this to your hair and leave for 30 minutes. You may want to use a shower cap or plastic bag over your hair during this time. Rinse with warm water after 30 minutes.

You will be left with shiny, well conditioned, and enriched hair.

Using Papaya for Acne

Papaya has always been used for skincare. Some claim it helps to clear acne because the enzyme, papain, is sometimes used to heal wounds and prevent scarring.4 Mash the papaya well and apply it as a face mask. This should be left for 10 minutes. Rinse as normal.

There are also papaya soaps made that are used for lightening the skin. These are a traditional type of soap that is used in many countries around the world where lighter skin is preferred. This is something we see a lot here in Brazil as many women and men both prefer to have a European skin tone.

Although papaya can also be used on wounds to encourage them to heal more quickly, care should be taken, especially if you are sensitive to latex.

Papaya Growing on Tree

Papaya Growing on Tree

A Papaya Tree

Here in Brazil, which is the largest exporter of papaya, most people who have a small amount of land have at least one tree growing. The papaya is a popular fruit here in Brazil. The plant is well suited to this area and is quite easy to grow. In fact, you will often see them near the back door where seeds have fallen and sprouted. Brazilians love to have it in a drink with milk and it is called a vitamina. I also have done this and made it into a nutritional smoothie. The recipe is included below.

Papaya Smoothie

Prep timeReady inYields

3 min

3 min

1 glass


  • 1/4 ripe papaya, cubed (no seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon flax seed, ground
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal or oat flour
  • 450ml milk, Nonfat, lowfat, or whole
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1 teaspoon honey, optional


  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and mix until papaya has broken down. The time will vary depending on how big you cut the pieces and how ripe it was.

Nutritional Value for Papaya


Nutrition Facts

Serving size 140g ~Calories 55~ Daily value %

Total Fat 0%

Cholesterol 0%

Sodium 4mg

total carbohydrate 14g ~ 5%

fiber 10%

Sugars 8g

Protein 1 g

Vitamin A 31%

Vitamin C 144%

Calcium 3%

Iron 1%

May Help Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are a painful condition. Eating papaya might help, as it creates a mucous lining that makes it easier on the body to pass hard stools. Also, by increasing fruit in your diet, you will be getting more fiber, which is also beneficial for elimination. A serving portion of papaya gives you 10% of your daily fiber needs. Without the pressure of straining, you may find the hemorrhoids become less of a problem.

Papaya for Dogs

Although this article is about the benefits of papaya for human use and consumption, dogs also benefit from it.

Papaya can safely be given to dogs in small quantities. There are a few caveats here.

  • Don't give dogs the seeds, just the peeled fruit.
  • Don't give papaya to dogs that are diabetic
  • Don't give them dried papaya, only fresh. (Dried fruits have a higher sugar concentration and they could be sprayed with a fungicide much the same as raisins are.)

Studies using papaya seeds on dogs that have kidney disease have been conducted in India with promising results.5 Ask your veterinarian for advice.


1. T;, M. C. M. W. E. (2013). Papaya preparation (Caricol®) in digestive disorders. Neuro endocrinology letters.

2. Sanchai Jaturasitha (Chiang Mai Univ., C. M. (T. F. of A. D. of A. H. (1991, January 1). Papain: Extraction and its use as meat tenderizer. AGRIS.

3. Everts H. B. (2012). Endogenous retinoids in the hair follicle and sebaceous gland. Biochimica et biophysica acta, 1821(1), 222–229.

4. Chen, Y. Y., Lu, Y. H., Ma, C. H., Tao, W. W., Zhu, J. J., & Zhang, X. (2017). A novel elastic liposome for skin delivery of papain and its application on hypertrophic scar. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie, 87, 82–91.

5.Ramteke, S. R. (1970, January 1). Studies on Risk Factor Analysis of Renal Disorders in Dogs and Effect of Carica Papaya Seed and Leaves Extracts on Nephrotoxic Rats. Krishikosh.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: How many servings in one papaya?

Answer: I personally get four, but it depends on the size of your papaya. Where I live, they are large.

Question: Is the skin of papaya edible?

Answer: No, don't eat the skin. It contains latex which could irritate the mouth. Always peel the papaya and discard the skin.

Question: Is papaya leaf juice is good for girls?

Answer: There is currently a wave of interest in papaya leaf juice. However, it is normally directed as being beneficial for people with dengue fever. That is a disease that is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes and according the the World Health Organization is endemic in more than 100 countries.

Question: How many grams of fiber are in 140 grams of papaya?

Answer: According to the USDA, there are 1.7 grams of fiber in 100 grams of papaya. If you work your calculations around that number you will know.

© 2012 Mary Wickison


Mary Wickison (author) from USA on March 16, 2018:

Hi Liz,

Thanks for your question. I was surprised to read about the fungus on your papaya. I thought that only occurred here and was a lack of use of a fungicide.

If I were you, I wouldn't eat it. Many types of mould have deep roots and although you may not see them, they can still be dangerous.

This is something that happens quite often here, as a bit of mishandling when being put on the shelf can lead to a damaged area.

Regarding the seeds, I have read stories about this too. I know they have used the seeds as a pepper replacement at times. If I were to have intestinal parasites, I personally would buy an over the counter treatment. Where I live, natural home remedies are widely used but for worms etc, they go the the pharmacy.

When I lived in California, I saw canned papaya. I don't know if it is still the case but Del Monte used to do a tropical fruit cocktail and papaya was one of the ingredients.

I see that you are in Southern California, depending on where, you may have the climate to grow them yourself.

LizBizCA from Southern California on March 15, 2018:

Recently bought my first papaya. In fact I dont believe Ive ever (knowingly) eaten it. Unsure of what they looked like but believing I could spot one, I scoured the produce section & came up empty handed, so asked for assistance. Same went for the clerk. She wound up going tothe produce mgr. I was surprised at just how large the are. I figured something the size of a mango. Its been a couple of days and ive kept it in the plastic produce bag. Went to cut it a few min ago and found 1 inch elongated blk spots abt 7 of them. Is it still edible if i cut the spots out? Im really anxious to try my first papaya!

I dont remember who it was.. Maybe dr oz.. Or 'The Drs" said papaya seeds are an effective natural treatment for intestinal parasites. Interestingly its just the seeds.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on August 31, 2017:

There is no problem with that amount. I eat papaya most days as a dessert after lunch. It is wonderful for the digestion.

Thank you for reading and your comment.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on April 24, 2017:

Hi Betty,

Glad you enjoyed it. The name of the book is Plantas Medicinais no Brasil. Nativas e Exoticas by Henri Lorenzi.

It is in Portuguese though. I am not sure if they offer it in English.

Betty, from Texas on April 23, 2017:

Found your artical by searching -PAWPAW. Really enjoyed the variety of information on this interesting fruit as well as your presentation. Would love to read the book your ex Red Cross nurse friend shared with you. Can you share title/author? Great article. Thank you.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on January 10, 2015:

I was just speaking to my friend here in Brazil about the difference between tree ripened and supermarket fruit. There is a huge difference.

Glad you found this page useful.

Have a great weekend.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 10, 2015:

I love papaya and wish I have those plants in my backyard. The ones they sell in the supermarket are not as sweet. Good to know some of the harmful effects of eating papaya.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on October 14, 2014:

Hi Sweetpikez,

In the Philippines as here in Brazil, the people know of these advantages of various fruits, plants and herbs. I find it amazing that some newly termed 'superfoods', the benefits have been known for years.

Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it.

Pinky de Garcia on October 14, 2014:

The side effect of eating too much papaya is like the old adage I remembered which states that "too much of everything is not good". Whether a certain fruit like papaya is tagged as healthy food, moderation of intake must still be observed.

Anyway, I commend the way you discussed the good and bad effects of papaya. This me conclude the reason why people who are observing sexual abstinence always have papaya on their menu. Great article!

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on August 12, 2014:

Hi Dougalbunny,

This was actually mentioned to me from a friend of mine here in Brazil. She is an ex Red Cross nurse and has studied many traditional ways of curing many ailments.

Zoe from London, England on August 12, 2014:

This was a great read with a lot of useful information. The papaya for piles was particularly relevant for me....unfortunately!

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on June 11, 2013:

Hello Archa,

In fact before I started researching it, I wasn't aware of many of the effects either. I do still eat them at least weekly as they are grow abundantly here.

Thanks for your comment.

Archa from India on June 11, 2013:

Nice interesting facts about papaya... I wasn't of most of them.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on June 10, 2013:

Hi Anatomynotes,

For pregnant women and those that wish to become pregnant, papaya should be limited. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, have a great day.

Edmund Custers on June 10, 2013:

This is interesting! I didn't know there was any danger in eating papaya. Thanks for sharing this with us. Voted up!

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 03, 2013:

Hello Rose-the-planner,

I am pleased you found it interesting. Besides the irritants, it can be hazardous for pregnant women.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 03, 2013:

Hi mercuryservices,

There are so many natural remedies, and homeopathic medicines. I think science is still just scraping the surface.

Thanks for your comment.

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on May 03, 2013:

Wow!!!! I know that papayas have many healthy advantages, however, I did not know about the dangers of papaya. Great information, thanks for sharing.

Alex Munkachy from Honolulu, Hawaii on May 02, 2013:

I'd be interested to learn more about papaya and birth control.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 02, 2013:

Hi Casimiro,

I have heard that the seeds were used in place of black peppercorns due to the high price of pepper at times. It is a remarkable plant. Thanks again.

Casimiro on May 01, 2013:

Also, the seeds have a unique flavor, so can be used on their own.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 01, 2013:

Hi Casimiro,

Thanks. I didn't know even the trunk could be used! Thanks for that information.

Casimiro on May 01, 2013:

Great hub. Actually, *any* part of the plant can be used as a meat tenderizer. Here in Costa Rica, it is common to also save the trunk of the tree, peel it, dice the core and use it in pico de gallo.

IslandBites from Puerto Rico on April 25, 2013:

Oh, I forgot the coconuts! LOL We're lucky, indeed.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on April 25, 2013:

We are so lucky, aren't we.

Here on our little farm we too have mangoes, bananas, passion fruit, acerola, cashew, graviola if we are very lucky, a fruit called sapoti, siriguella (these are Portuguese names) and lots of coconuts.

In fact, until I moved here, I didn't realize how many types of fruits there were that I had never heard of!

IslandBites from Puerto Rico on April 25, 2013:

That's true. It's great to have fresh fruit all the time. At my parents we always had mangoes, bananas (and plantains), guava, papayas, passion fruit, pomegranate, acerolas, avocados, breadfruit and custard apples.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on April 25, 2013:

Now it is funny that you mention that. When I first arrived here in Brazil, there were papaya trees in the garden. However, they were the variety that I didn't care for so we pulled them out. I liked the smaller and sweeter variety. Recently I went to a friends house and they brought some cubed papaya out and I loved it. Would you believe it, it was the larger variety that I had removed. If you have the trees, fresh is always better. That is one of the benefits living where we do, an abundance of fresh fruit. Del Monte do a canned tropical mix I believe for those who aren't lucky enough to have trees. My sister in the States makes a wonderful ambrosia with it. Thank you for your comment.

IslandBites from Puerto Rico on April 25, 2013:

Good information. I have never liked papaya. IMO it tastes/smells like perfume. But my dad loves it, specially in smoothies. There are some papaya trees at my parents' so I have never seen it canned.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on April 25, 2013:

Hello Rumana,

The meat here in Brazil can be tough. I think they slaughter the animals when they are quite old and as such it is akin to chewing a boot sole! We use papaya and also meat tenderizer and I pound it to break up the fibers.

I also tend to marinate a lot.

Thank you for the vote.

Rumana from Sharjah, UAE on April 25, 2013:

Hi Blond Logic,

You have given a lots of information on Papaya. We do use unripe papaya as a meat tenderizer. But you have given brief information on it benefits.

Voted up Useful !

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on January 18, 2013:

Hello Dancing Water,

I too eat often although not daily. No I have never tried it as a face mask. It is relatively low-priced for the large mangoes over here .

I haven't tried it as a face mask but it is something I will try.

Yes, with lime juice it is very nice. Yum.

Glad you enjoyed the hub.

Thanks for the comment.

Dancing Water on January 17, 2013:

I lived in Thailand for 20 years, and ate papaya daily. Also, I used it as a face masque. Lovely hub with excellent information. Papaya is a wonderful fruit, and I thank you for enlightening us about its many uses. By the way, do you eat it with lime juice squeezed on it? Delish! Again, a great hub! Thank you!

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on November 15, 2012:

Hell LemonKerdz,

Thank you for your vote. I have heard of people using the seeds. Sometimes as a replacement for black pepper. I have never tried it. The leaves are supposed to be great for wrapping meat to tenderize it as well. A truly amazing plant.

Thank you for your added information.

lemonkerdz from LIMA, PERU on November 14, 2012:

thanks for the hub. it is very true papaya has some very good uses. living in peru we have used it so many times especially the black seeds blended into yogurt to help kill parasites, but the leaves of the papaya are even stronger if you put them in a salad. it's not my favorite fruit but ithas some great benefits. voted up by me.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on November 14, 2012:

Hello Robie2,

I am glad you found it interesting. You will find a papaya smoothie will keep you feeling full until lunch time.

Thanks for your comment.

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on November 14, 2012:

What a fascinating compilation of papaya history and lore-- there is a lot I didn't know about papayas and I certainly didn't know that it had soooo many varied uses.... I think I just might have to try a papaya smoothie-- thanks for the heads up on papaya. Thumbs up from me.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on November 08, 2012:

I read this in a book my friend loaned to me. She is a retired nurse and the book was about the plants we have in Brazil. It was fascinating the plants I thought were weeds, the natives have been using them to cure all sorts of maladies. When I speak to my neighbors, they say things like, "this is good for the hair" etc.

There is still so little we know about the natural world.

I am pleased you found it useful.

Thanks for stopping by.

healthylife2 on November 08, 2012:

Very useful information! I had no idea there were any adverse effects from papaya such as causing abortion and lowering the sperm count but I have heard it is good for hair. Voted up!

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on October 30, 2012:

Hello Teaches12345,

I have been reading a friend's book about tropical plants in Brazil. It is so interesting the different trees and shrubs they use here. I think people don't realize just how potent some plants can be.

Always a pleasure to hear from you.

Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on October 30, 2012:

I took Papaya for years to aid in digestion. I had no idea that it could also be used for birth control.

Dianna Mendez on October 29, 2012:

I didn't know it could possibly harm pregnancy, this is good information for those who are expecting, or planning for it. I like the face mask idea for teens, this would be a natural remedy for them, much safer. Great post and well done.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on October 29, 2012:

Hello Thelma,

Thank you for the vote. I am glad you found out something that was useful to you and your family.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on October 29, 2012:

WoW! This is an informative hub. I know most of the positive health benefits of papaya but not the negative sides of it. I have to tell my sister-in-law to not eating much of papaya because she is pregnant. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on October 28, 2012:

Hello Btrbell,

I am pleased you found it interesting. I normally have a ripe one that we are eating, in the refrigerator, and one in the fruit bowl.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on October 28, 2012:

Hello Bill,

Before arriving in Brazil, I believe I only had it in canned form or dried. I believe some granolas have these as an ingredient. Here, they are everywhere.

As for the sperm count, well I am not going to touch that with a barge pole or perhaps even a pencil. : )

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on October 28, 2012:

We love papayas in our house and while I was aware of many of it's great qualities and benefits, you have opened my eyes to many more! Thank you for an interesting and informative hub!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 28, 2012:

Great information! I have never had it, and at my age, I guess the sperm count thing isn't important. LOL