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Is Papaya Good For Diabetes?

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Fruits are a source of nutrition and are a favorite all year long. As a juicy, delicious summer fruit, Mrs. Savita loves adding ripe and unripe papayas to her meals. Her husband and kids crave chilled papaya salads after work; she also makes papaya sabzis and desserts. The sad side of this juicy journey is her recent diagnosis of diabetes; she’s unsure about indulging in her favorite fruit now. Are papayas good for diabetics? Is papaya for diabetics a not-so-good idea?

All diabetics are sceptical about sweet fruits. Diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition affecting millions worldwide. While the traditional medical fraternity juggles between medicines, strict diets, exercise and stress control, integrative and functional medicine offer a refurbished take on the disease. It aims to rebalance the body’s underlying physiology and ability to cope with chronic diseases without cutting down on your favourite foods, like papaya. 

Yes, papaya is good for diabetes; we will help you understand why. 

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Understanding Diabetes and Dietary Needs

We will quickly take a look at the ins and outs of diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease where diabetics are unable to control blood sugar levels. There are different types of Diabetes, which is important to understand. Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas produces insufficient insulin to lower blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is primarily caused by insulin resistance, which is when our body cells cannot use insulin adequately (it’s not a lack of insulin; rather, it’s not being used properly). Type 1.5 diabetes, on the other hand, is a combination of Type 1 and Type 2 that typically affects older, non-obese people.

Your diet takes center stage in managing diabetes. All foods we eat, digest and metabolize affect blood sugar levels in some way. The glycemic index (GI) shows how fast a food raises blood sugar. Glycemic load (GL) offers more detailed data. It evaluates the rate at which a meal raises blood sugar and its overall effect on blood sugar levels. Dietary recommendations for diabetics include low GI and GL, high-fiber foods, good-quality protein and healthy fats in the right frequency and recipe. 

Papaya 101

Papaya is power-packed with nutrients that are super good for the body. Here is an overview of its nutritional profile per the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Macronutrients per 100 g of papaya include:
Nutrients in 1 cup (per 100g)Amount
Energy43 cal
Carbohydrates9.8 g
Protein0.47 g
Sugar4.09 g
Fat0.26 g
Fibre1.7g
Micronutrients per 100 g of papaya include:
Potassium182 mg
Vitamin A42 ug
Magnesium21 mg
Vitamin C60.9 mg
Vitamin E0.3 mg
Folate37 ug

The Papaya glycemic index is 60, making it a moderate GI food. But here’s the good news—papaya’s GL is only 5.5, making it a low GL food. GL considers the overall carbohydrate content of a food for a specific quantity. Is papaya ok for diabetics? Papaya has a moderate GI but a low GL, making it safe for diabetics.

Papaya and Diabetes Management

Every slice of papaya is a burst of tropical goodness—flavorful, juicy, satiating and healthy. Papaya and diabetes are sweet, provided you know the ‘how.’ Is papaya good for diabetes— Yes!

Here’s why:

  • Does Not Spike Blood Sugar Levels after Consumption

Moderate GI and low GL are the real game changers in diabetes management. The zero grams of sucrose, maltose, lactose, galactose & starch, as well as only 4.09 grams of glucose and 3.73 grams of fructose per 100 grams of papaya, make the overall carb content of the fruit manageable and safe for diabetics. So even though it has a moderate and not low GI, the bigger picture of a papaya’s impact on your blood glucose levels is diabetes-friendly

  • Has an Abundance of Fibres

Unlike other carbs, fibre takes time to digest, isn’t absorbed or broken down by the body, and adds to the bulk of your stools. It prevents sudden spikes in blood sugar and cleanses the gut for better diabetes management.

Fiber is the food for the good gut bacteria—hence a prebiotic. Regular, diverse fibre intake will help nurture the diversity of the gut microbiome and maintain gut health. The result? It slowly solves metabolic diseases like diabetes from within.

  • Rich in Antioxidants and Vitamin A

This happy orange fruit is loaded with the orange pigment carotenoids (the beta-carotene of vitamin A) and flavonoids, which are antioxidants.  It also has vitamin C, another antioxidant that actively fights the free radical load (oxidative stress) and inflammation, as seen in diabetics. 

  • Controls Inflammation in the Body

Inflammation is your body’s natural way to fight off germs and keep you healthy. However, persistent inflammation worsens complications that affect other organs in the body. It eventually leads to high cholesterol levels (hyperlipidemia), diabetic retinopathies (damaged blood vessels to the eye), neuropathies (damaged nerve endings), etc. Is papaya good for diabetics? Yes, because the papain in papaya can reduce inflammatory states in diabetes. 

  • Boosts Gut Health

Papain (the origin of the name ‘papaya’) also helps keep the gut healthy. It aids in protein digestion by breaking down amino acids. Papain is like the enzymes in our pancreas that digest meat, but it works without acid. 

  • Helps Manage Weight

A healthy gut with no inflammation in the body supports a healthy weight. The juicy fruits offer substantial energy and fibre in smaller quantities, keeping you full for longer and are a great addition to your breakfast smoothies or in-between meals to keep you from mindless munching. 

 

How to Incorporate Papaya into a Diabetic Diet

 

When you rightly add papaya, diabetics can get the best benefits out of the fruit. Along with support from your healthcare providers, who closely understand your diabetes type, body physiology and what suits you the best, you can manage the disease like a pro. Here are some creative ideas to add papayas to your meals.

Ripe, peeled, and sliced papaya cubes can be added to fruit salads, sprout mixtures, breakfast bowls or low-fat yoghurts. Blending papaya to make a shake or smoothie is another way to drink it up. You can squeeze a lemon to heighten the sweet-sour flavour and vitamin C quotient. 

A study showed that fermented papaya preparation (FPP) helps insulin work better and brings down blood sugar levels by improving the insulin sensitivity of the body cells. Though we need more research, these findings open doors to different papaya recipes.

Pick papayas that are ripe but not too soft, bright orange in colour and sweet in smell. Avoid ones that are mushy or have spots. Peel and chop the fruit, then soak it in salty water. Let it sit at room temperature for a few days until it tastes and feels right. 

Peeled raw papayas can be added to dals (lentil soups), tenderized meat curries (when cooking), your salads, and are an addition to sabzis.

Considerations and Precautions

Like every food, especially as a part of a diabetic diet, functional medicine highlights that papayas are to be taken in moderation. 1-2 cups (145 grams – 290 grams) of freshly peeled and diced papaya can be eaten by diabetics in a day. We suggest you try making this a part of your routine, alongside the other diabetes management methods, and see yourself heal functionally & sustainably. 

Functional medicine also reminds you to focus on when to have papayas in a day. It is best to have fruits alone, as they keep you full longer and better absorb all nutrients. However, studies show that fruits (apart from those with low GI) are best taken around a high-fiber diet to slow down any possible glycemic response for diabetics. This allows proteins and healthy fats in your meals to slow the absorption of moderate GI fruits like papaya. 

Daily monitoring of your blood sugar levels is a must with papayas. Here’s why?

Studies show that papaya seeds and leaf extracts are rich in compounds like alkaloids and saponins that promote insulin production. If you are taking medications for diabetes, this may add to the blood sugar-lowering effects causing hypoglycemia. 

Beyond Papaya: Fruits and Diabetes Management

As proponents of functional medicine, we do not restrict your diet or lifestyle. We try to strengthen you from within to fix the root cause of the disease. Let’s look beyond papaya for a moment. 

When selecting fruits that help with diabetes, pick the ones with low GL and have micronutrients to offer. These can effectively overcome the nutritional deficiencies in diabetes.  Include papaya, pomegranate, guava, berries, kiwi, dragon fruit, green apple, sweet lime, jamun, stone fruits (plum, pears), and pears in your daily fruit diet for diabetes. Overripe fruits with soggy skins are best avoided, as they are prone to mould growth and can exacerbate gut inflammation. 

Mrs Savita did great by adding professional advice from healthcare experts early in her diabetes journey; since then, there has been no looking back. She now chooses her papayas well, knows they are good for diabetes, and eats them correctly. This not only helps her stay on top of diabetes management but also doesn’t deprive her of her favourite fruits. 

There is more to diabetes than prolonged and costly dependencies on medications, rigorous diets, exercises and mandatory 8+ hours of restful sleep. Knowing about simple foods like papaya and the intricacies of eating them correctly and functionally empowers and strengthens you to fight chronic diseases like diabetes. With its low GL, high fibre, antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral content, papaya is a tropical, scrumptious, juicy fruit and a must-have. 

We at Wellfinity believe that the key to successful diabetes management is diet and lifestyle changes, as well as learning to eat the correct meals at the right time and sequence. 

We helped Mrs. Savita choose the right fruit and will help you, too. Please feel free to tell us about your papaya stories. To understand the subtleties of managing your diabetes naturally, you can sign up for a consultation with our experts.

Papaya is high in soluble fibre and low in fat, making it an ideal fruit for diabetics to eat. One small bowl of papaya contains only 23 calories, but provides healthy nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and beta carotene.

Papayas are rich with vitamin C which helps to fight off infections. It also helps to keep your skin clear from acne breakout.

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