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Is Papaya Good for Diabetes? Sugar Content, Glycemic Index
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Is Papaya Good for Diabetes? Sugar Content, Glycemic Index

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 August 7
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5 min

Papaya is a popular tropical fruit many enjoy. However, if you have diabetes, you may wonder if you can eat papaya since it is a fruit that has sugar.

is papaya good for diabetes

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Many individuals on a diabetes diet believe they cannot eat fruit because it has sugar. This is not the case! 

Papaya can be a nutritious and filling fruit for those with diabetes and part of a healthy diet. However, you must consume it appropriately.

Let’s dive into more information about how you can eat papaya with diabetes and even reap some health benefits from it! 

Is Papaya Good for Diabetes?

Papaya is good for diabetes with many health benefits as well. Papaya can be enjoyed in so many ways: from papaya-topped grilled chicken breast and papaya salsa to papaya on a salad or even just eaten completely plain.

Despite many misconceptions that papaya, and fruit in general, will drastically raise blood sugar levels for individuals with diabetes, this fruit is an excellent choice as it has tons of health benefits. Still, it’s suitable for people on a diabetes diet as long as it is consumed in moderation and in appropriate portions.

Although it is a carbohydrate source that needs to be considered when counting calories, it also contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, and more that are part of a healthy diet.

Considering the other foods in your meal or snack is important as well to ensure you are not exceeding the number of carbohydrates allotted in your diet.

Additionally, according to the National Library of Medicine and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, unripe papaya is not safe for everyone to consume, including pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Is Papaya High in Sugar?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one cup of papaya contains approximately 13 grams of sugar. 

This is relatively high. However, the glycemic index does play a role in the usage of sugar in the body – more on this later! 

Additionally, it is essential to consider the many benefits fruit provides rather than just focus on the bit of natural sugar it contains. Many vitamins and minerals in papaya are good for diabetes patients. 

Yet, as someone with diabetes, you might want to limit added sugar significantly. 

Try to avoid consuming papaya that contains excessive amounts of added sugar. This can be done by limiting your consumption of sweetened dried papaya or papaya fruit juice with added sugar. 

Instead, focus on fresh and ripe papaya that is already quite sweet. Keep in mind that unripe or even semi-ripe papaya often lacks sweetness and flavor.

What Is Papaya’s Glycemic Index?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the glycemic index is the measure of how quickly a food can cause someone’s blood sugar levels to rise or spike.

It is important to keep the glycemic index in mind when you have diabetes to help with your blood sugar monitoring.

Fruits higher in fiber, such as apples, pears, and plums, tend to have a lower glycemic index because the fiber slows down the digestion and absorption of the sugars into the blood, which is beneficial for those with diabetes. 

More specifically, papaya has a glycemic index of 60, which is considered moderate. 

Therefore, papaya is a suitable choice for healthy eating. However, a lower glycemic index may be better for fruits consumed more often.

5 Papaya Benefits for Diabetes

Let’s discuss five of the prime health benefits of papaya for individuals with diabetes.

1. High in fiber

Papaya is a good fiber source that can help control blood sugar levels in those with diabetes and support healthy eating. A one-cup serving of papaya contains 2.8 grams of fiber.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that women and men aged 51 and older consume 25 and 38 grams of fiber, respectively, while those aged 50 and younger should consume 21 and 30 grams for a healthy diet.

In addition to blood sugar control, consuming a fiber-rich diet helps you feel full and satisfied with a meal longer. 

Additionally, dietary fiber promotes a healthy digestive system and can reduce constipation. 

To get even more fiber, pair your papaya with a fresh salad rich in vegetables. 

2. Rich in antioxidants 

According to the journal Nutrients, the primary nutrient composition of papaya pulp is vitamins A, E, and C, pantothenic acid, and more.

More specifically, vitamin A is an essential nutrient that functions to support healthy eyes and vision. 

Additionally, vitamin C functions to support wound healing and immune system functioning. 

These vitamins and more all have the potential to work as natural antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds naturally present in foods that act against free radicals.

Free radicals are harmful compounds naturally produced from processes such as digestion. However, free radicals can damage cells. Therefore, a balance of antioxidants in the diet and free radicals in the body is healthy to protect against oxidative stress.

Since oxidative stress in the body plays a role in diabetes, the antioxidants in fruits such as papaya benefit those with the condition.

3. Low in fat and calories 

Fruits benefit those with diabetes since they are naturally low in calories and fat, except for a few, such as avocado

Many with diabetes also struggle with weight, so papaya is a tasty low-calorie snack or side dish, especially when paired with a protein source.

A one-cup serving of cut-up papaya has only 71 calories and less than half a gram of fat. 

4. Potentially reduces blood cholesterol levels

Cholesterol is a type of fat naturally produced in the liver of animals and humans. Since our bodies can make it, we do not need to eat cholesterol in our diets.

However, when excessive amounts of animal products are consumed, cholesterol levels can increase in the blood. Over time, this cholesterol can build up into plaque, narrowing arteries and contributing to atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. 

If the artery gets blocked completely, it will cut off blood flow to the heart or the brain, causing a heart attack or stroke. 

According to Nutrients, researchers found that papaya may have the potential to decrease blood cholesterol levels. It is proposed that the high fiber content of papaya can decrease fat absorption and reduce cholesterol. 

5. May lower blood pressure

Papaya contains flavonoids, a particular class of antioxidants that help fight free radicals. Additionally, studies have supported that flavonoids are beneficial for those with diabetes.

A review in the BMC journal Nutrition and Metabolism found that flavonoids can help reduce blood sugar in those with diabetes. The study even found a potential benefit to preventing and reducing long-term complications of diabetes. 

FAQs

Is papaya good for type 2 diabetes?

While papaya has a moderately high glycemic index of 60, it is still a relatively good choice for those with diabetes as it has fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals. However, ensure you consume an appropriate portion size to avoid high blood sugar spikes.

Does papaya lower blood pressure?

Some animal studies, such as that published in Phytotherapy Research, have demonstrated papaya’s blood pressure-lowering effect. However, more research must be done to confirm this effect in humans.

A Word From a Dietitian

Papaya is a nutritious fruit filled with beneficial vitamins and minerals. In addition, it has healthy antioxidants and flavonoids that have many benefits to human health.

While it contains sugar, the fruit’s fiber helps digest and absorb it more slowly to avoid blood sugar spikes.

When you consume fruit and have diabetes, it is essential to stick with appropriate portion sizes. A serving of fruit is either a small piece of whole fruit or one cup of cut-up fruit.

A portion size contains 15 grams of carbohydrates. Consider this when you are counting your carbohydrates for blood sugar monitoring.

Pairing your fiber-rich fruit with lean protein and healthy fat, such as cheese and almonds, is best. This combination will support blood sugar regulation and feeling satisfied and full. 

Conclusion

Papaya is a healthy fruit good for diabetes. It can benefit those with diabetes because of its high fiber content, antioxidant profile, and much more. 

Papaya does have a moderately high glycemic index; however, the presence of fiber does slow down the digestion and absorption of the sugar it contains.

Antioxidants present in the fruit help reduce cell damage and oxidative stress that play a role in diabetes.

Papaya can support weight loss as well as reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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