The papaya is a fruit with a mild to fairly sweet taste and soft texture with the consistency of butter. When it is ripe, this tropical fruit literally melts in your mouth, and it brings out its tropical notes. The most common way people enjoy this fruit is freshly cut. However, some people use it to make desserts, appetizers, or even ferment it.
Still, when you are on the keto or a low-carb diet, you count every carb you ingest. And, the topic of fresh fruits on the keto or a low-carb diet can get complicated. Which one can you have, and which one is an absolute NO?
Can you eat papaya on the keto or low-carb diet? Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know!
What Is Papaya?
Other than papaya, people also call this tropical fruit papaw or pawpaw. Its scientific name is Carica papaya, and it belongs to the genus Carica. This fruit originates from somewhere in the tropics of America. Most likely from somewhere around Central America and southern Mexico.
Today this tropical fruit has been naturalized throughout the Caribbean Islands, California, Hawaii, Florida, Texas, and other tropical and subtropical regions around the globe. Today, India is the leading country in the production of this fruit. India produced the most papaya in 2018 with over 6 tonnes.
The papaya fruit is a berry that has orange flesh and black seeds in the center. How do you know if it is ripe enough to eat?
You can feel it and it should feel soft- as soft as a ripe avocado or softer. The colors usually vary from amber to an orange hue. It has a sweet taste that can range from mild to strong. It has a slightly tangy smell and a soft consistency. Its consistency gives you the impression that it is melting in your mouth.
Papaya nutrition facts
Below, we have the nutritional information on 100 grams of papaya. This is a little more than ⅔ of a small papaya which is 157 grams. (*)
Is papaya healthy?
Just like most tropical fruits, fresh papaya and papaya seeds are also rich in vitamins and minerals. It also contains the enzyme papain which traditionally people used to tenderize meat for thousands of years.
When it is ripe, you can eat it raw. However, the green unripe papayas contains latex, therefore you should always cook it. Some people love shredded green papaya. It is especially dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause contractions. (*)
It also contains antioxidants. It is particularly rich in a group of antioxidants called carotenoids. Antioxidants are compounds that bind to harmful free radicals and prevent oxidative stress. In one study, scientists discovered that the carotenoids from papaya are more bioavailable than those from other sources. (*)
Another study, which included people with biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease and a control group, also has some promising results. They gave fermented papaya for 6 months to one group and noticed a 40% drop in the biomarkers for Alzheimer’s in that group. (*)
Scientists think that the antioxidative effect of this tropical fruit is because of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that has anticancer and radioprotective properties. Fermented papaya also has the ability to remove excess iron from the serum. (*), (*)
Another unique thing about papaya is that it has anticancer effects on breast cancer. (*)
Can You Have Papaya On Keto Diet?
This tropical sweet fruit is nutritious and has many health benefits and essential nutrients. About ⅔ of one small fruit has 43 calories, and out of those, 0.5 grams of protein, 0.3 grams of fat, about 11 grams of total carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and 9 grams of net carbs.
It also has a medium glycemic index, depending on its ripeness. That means that it does elevate blood sugar levels, but not as quickly as high glycemic index foods do. Still, the 9 grams of net carbs are not a joke. It is almost half of the amount of a strict keto dieters’ carb allowance. Yet, this fruit has many health benefits, including cancer-fighting properties supported by numerous studies.
So, let’s answer the question. Can you eat papaya on the ketogenic diet? The answer is- it depends. Generally, the answer would be NO for strict dieters, as this fruit has moderate GI. However, people often consume the low carb fruit raw and unprocessed. It is very healthy, nutritious, and has unique cancer-fighting properties. So, if you really wanted to, you could get away with a bite or two, and still be in ketosis. But, as always- moderation is key here.
Additionally, fermented papaya would be much lower in carbs than raw. That is because of the bacteria that they use in the fermentation process. The bacteria use the sugars in the fruit for energy, which leaves the final product with much less net carbs. This is the keto-friendly way of eating papaya.
Raw and ripe papaya is not strictly keto-friendly. However, fermented papaya is much lower in carbs.
This fruit originates from the tropicals of America. Probably in Central America or southern Mexico. Today people produce it all around the globe- Caribbean Islands, California, Hawaii, Florida, Texas, and other tropical and subtropical regions. The country that produces the most of the fruit is India- with 6 million tonnes in 2018.
It is low in calories, protein, and fats, and it is moderately high in carbs. It also falls just above the middle of the glycemic index scale. People also ferment this fruit. During the process of fermentation, the bacteria will consume some or most of the carbs.
Therefore, in regards to the keto or a low-carb diet, raw papaya may be too high in carbs. Consuming it will increase your chances of being kicked out of ketosis. Of course, if you are not on a strict low carb diet you can have it in moderation.
If you want to get the benefits of fresh papaya and still be in ketosis, you can try fermenting the papaya.
*image by ThaiThu/depositphotos