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    Papaya in Pregnancy: Is it Safe or Should You Avoid This Fruit?

    Diet & Nutrition

    Papaya in Pregnancy: Is it Safe or Should You Avoid This Fruit?

    Updated on 3 November 2023

    Medically Reviewed by

    Savita

    Diabetes, Weight Loss, Thyroid, PCOS - Masters in Food & Nutrition

    View Profile

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    Pregnancy is a delicate time for any woman as every decision she makes can impact the health of her unborn child. One of the most common questions that expecting mothers ask is whether certain foods are safe to eat during pregnancy. Papaya is a tropical fruit that is rich in nutrients and has many health benefits. However, there is some confusion about whether it is safe to eat papaya in pregnancy.

    In this article, we will explore the potential risks and benefits of this fruit during pregnancy and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.

    Is Papaya Good for Pregnancy?

    Eating papaya during pregnancy is a controversial topic. Some sources suggest that papaya can cause miscarriage or premature labor, while others claim that it is safe in moderation. The truth lies somewhere in between. Let us understand why papaya is not good for pregnancy.

    Papaya contains an enzyme called papain that can stimulate contractions and soften the cervix, which may lead to complications during pregnancy. However, the risks associated with eating papaya seem to be limited to unripe or semi-ripe fruit, which contains higher levels of papain.

    Ripe papaya, on the other hand, is considered safe for most pregnant women to consume but only in small amounts ( a small bowl). Ripe papaya is high in vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber, which can provide health benefits for both the mother and the developing baby. Furthermore, one should be mindful while eating papaya and not consume too much of it as it can lead to an increased bowel movement.

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    What Are the Benefits of Eating Ripe Papaya in Pregnancy?

    There are various papaya benefits in pregnancy. One should note that the following benefits are associated with ripe papaya and not with raw papaya in pregnancy.

    1. Improves immunity

    Papaya is full of nutrients and essential minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, beta carotene, and potassium. These vitamins and minerals improve the immunity of the mother and the child, saving them from any potential infection during pregnancy.

    2. Relieves nausea

    Papaya may also help relieve morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy due to its high water content and digestive enzymes. These enzymes, papain, and chymopapain, can help break down proteins and aid digestion.

    3. Prevents constipation

    Fibers present in ripe papaya play a huge role in preventing digestive problems in pregnant women. So if a woman is facing minor constipation during pregnancy, they can handle it by eating some ripe papaya. However, if the constipation is serious, it is advised to contact a healthcare professional.

    4. Alleviates heartburn

    The enzymes present in papaya can help improve digestion and reduce inflammation in the stomach. As a result, papaya can also be used as a home remedy against heartburn or acid reflux caused due to pregnancy.

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    5. Provides folic acid

    Papaya is a good source of folic acid. Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B-vitamin that is important for the proper development of the fetus during pregnancy. It helps in the formation of the neural tube, which later develops into the brain and spinal cord of the baby.

    However, it's important to note that unripe papayas contain high levels of latex, which can cause contractions and may be harmful during pregnancy. It's best to avoid unripe papaya in pregnancy.

    Why Papaya Latex Should Not Be Consumed?

    Papaya latex is a milky substance that is found in the leaves, stems, and fruit of the papaya plant. While the fruit itself is generally safe to eat, consuming papaya latex may cause a range of adverse effects, including stomach irritation, allergic reactions, and even food poisoning in extreme cases. It's important to avoid the latex present in raw papaya in pregnancy because of the following reasons:

    • The papaya latex can trigger uterine contractions that can lead to early labor. Furthermore, it can also lead to an abnormal rise in menstrual flow, leading to miscarriage during pregnancy.
    • Raw papaya also contains papain, which the pregnant body often mistakes for prostaglandins, a hormone that induces labor. In addition to these side effects, papain can also disrupt implantation and cause serious harm to the embryo.
    • Moreover, papain with pepsin present in raw papaya can also stop the development of the fetus. These chemicals also weaken the vital membranes in the uterus that support the fetus, increasing the chances of miscarriage.
    • The chemicals present in raw papaya can also induce internal hemorrhage due to an increase in vascular pressure. It can also lead to bleeding in the placenta, causing harm to the growing baby by exposing them to harmful infection.
    • Eating raw papaya in pregnancy can also cause premature birth and can also cause some post-delivery complications in the baby.
    • Latex in raw papaya is a very common allergen and is known to cause dangerous reactions in the body.

    The Bottomline

    In a nutshell, papaya in pregnancy can be a beneficial food to consume, as long as it is ripe. It's important to choose papayas with yellow skin that are soft to the touch. Avoid consuming papaya leaves or seeds, as they may have adverse effects. Additionally, be sure to steer clear of papayas that have bruises or black spots on their skin, as they may cause health complications. By following these guidelines, you can safely enjoy the many papaya benefits in pregnancy.

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    References

    1. Adebiyi A, Adaikan PG, Prasad RN. (2002). Papaya (Carica papaya) consumption is unsafe in pregnancy: fact or fable? Scientific evaluation of a common belief in some parts of Asia using a rat model. Br J Nutr.

    2. Gopalakrishnan M, Rajasekharasetty MR. (1978). Effect of papaya (Carica papaya linn) on pregnancy and estrous cycle in albino rats of Wistar strain. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol.

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    Medically Reviewed by

    Savita

    Diabetes, Weight Loss, Thyroid, PCOS - Masters in Food & Nutrition

    View Profile

    Written by

    Roohi Kalra

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