Papayas, also known as papaws or pawpaws, are soft fruit that is high in nutrients and could reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Papaya is native to Mexico and also grows naturally in the Caribbean and Florida. A sliced papaya has bright orange flesh with black seeds in the center. Some individuals describe its taste as a mix between a melon and mango.
This article will explore how papaya may impact blood sugar levels and the health benefits of including this fruit alternative in your diet.
The glycemic index for papaya is 61, which is considered to be in the medium glycemic index range. This rating means that eating papayas will not immediately raise blood sugar levels, but other fruits (such as peaches and oranges) may be a better fit depending on your own goals and medical conditions.¹ ²
Papayas are an excellent source of vitamin C, with one medium fruit providing 224% of the recommended daily intake. Papayas are also a good source of folate, vitamin A, magnesium, copper, pantothenic acid, and fiber. This nutrition profile is packed with antioxidants that help safeguard the human body against free radicals and provide various other health benefits.
The nutritional information below is for 100 g of raw papaya.²
A (47 µg), B6 (0.04 mg), C (60.9 mg), Folate (37 µg), Lycopene ( 1830 µg).
Eating papaya may be beneficial for weight loss efforts and weight management as it is low in calories and high in fiber, making papaya a nutrient-rich food. High-fiber foods can help control appetite and reduce cravings, supporting weight loss goals.
In one study, fiber intake was said to predict weight loss success regardless of dietary pattern. This means that individuals who eat a high-fiber diet are more likely to achieve weight loss than those who eat less fiber.¹⁷ Adding papaya to your diet may be one way to achieve your daily fiber goals.
Papaya is a medium-glycemic index fruit which means it has a relatively lower impact on blood sugar levels than high-glycemic fruits like pineapple and mango. Papaya has a low amount of natural sugar and a higher fiber content, which helps slow down sugar absorption in the bloodstream, improve digestion, and normalize blood sugar levels.
When eating papaya, various factors can affect its impact on blood sugar levels, including the ripeness of the fruit, individual diet, health status, and medication usage. Ripe papayas are sweeter and may contain a higher natural sugar content. The fruit may also interact with certain diabetes medications, so it is essential to speak to a healthcare provider if you are concerned about adding papaya to your diet.
Symptoms of a papaya allergy include itchiness of the mouth, lips, or throat, swelling, and redness. In severe cases, allergic reactions can cause hives, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis. Please consult a healthcare professional if you suspect an allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance to papaya.
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.
Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.
There is currently no scientific evidence to suggest that papaya spikes insulin levels. In fact, papaya is a low glycemic index fruit, meaning it has a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. However, it is important to note that individual responses to food can vary, and people with diabetes or other medical conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to their diet.
Yes, papaya is considered a low glycemic fruit with a glycemic index (GI) of 60 or less.
Yes, people living with diabetes can eat papaya in moderation as it is a low glycemic index fruit and contains fiber and antioxidants that can help regulate blood sugar levels. However, it is important to monitor portion sizes and consume it as part of a balanced diet.