It’s no secret that eating fruit has some major health benefits. Cherries, with their high melatonin and magnesium content, help balance our hormones. Oranges and strawberries are high in vitamin C, which helps decrease our stress levels. But there’s one fruit in particular that boasts several different health benefits and tends to under the radar: Papaya. This tropical fruit can help improve digestion, relieve constipation, support your immunity, and even support glowing skin.
Read on to learn five important papaya benefits—from fighting bloating to brightening skin. We also included a delicious papaya smoothie recipe that helps relieve bloating and constipation.
5 Papaya Health Benefits
From digestive health to skin health, here are five health benefits of eating papaya you need to know.
1. Papaya Can Help Relieve Bloating
Let’s face it: Bloating is a serious pain. But papaya is an extremely effective natural remedy.
That’s because papayas contain papain, aka the de-bloating digestive enzyme. Papain helps you break down fiber and protein so that it’s easier to digest. This is particularly helpful the day after those yummy but bloat-inducing, sodium-heavy meals.
Fun fact: HUM Nutrition’s Flatter Me supplement uses a blend of papain and other digestive enzymes designed to ease belly bloat and soothe digestion on days you don’t have papaya on-hand.
2. Papaya Supports a Healthy Immune System
Papayas are a rich source of vitamin C. In fact, they’re almost as concentrated in the immunity-boosting vitamin as oranges. A single cup of papaya contains 88 milligrams of vitamin C. That’s 98 percent of your daily value! (By contrast, the same amount of orange slices contains about 95 milligrams of vitamin C, or 106 percent of your daily value.)
Why does this matter? Vitamin C is a huge support to your immune system. It stimulates the production of antibodies, which gives your immune system a boost and helps fight infection. Vitamin C also supports the body’s natural collagen production and fights off damaging free radicals.
3. Papaya Helps You Poop
Good news for those who struggle with constipation or regular bowel movements: Papaya can help you poop. Why does papaya make you poop? There are many reasons why papaya is a popular natural remedy for constipation.
First, papayas are an excellent source of fiber. While our bodies do not actually digest fiber, it helps feed the good bacteria in our microbiomes for better digestion and well-being. It also helps bulk up our stools for healthy elimination of toxins.
And papayas are extremely high in vitamin C, which can also help soften your stool. In one study, researchers found that children who struggled with constipation has low levels of dietary fiber and micronutrients, including vitamin C.
Finally, the papain in papayas also helps move things along by breaking down fiber and protein so they move more easily through the digestive tract.
4. Papaya Supports Eye and Skin Health
Along with vitamin C, papaya is high in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that keeps your skin and eyes healthy. While carrots and tomatoes are popular produce selections when it comes to beta-carotene, papayas are also an excellent source
In a study published in the British Journal of of Nutrition, researchers report that the carotenoids in papaya are actually more bio-available to humans than those found in carrots and tomatoes.
For even better bio-availability and absorption of beta-carotenes, try pairing papaya with a healthy fat (such as avocado or olive oil).
5. Papaya Can Exfoliate Skin
In addition to its many digestive benefits, papaya also has benefits for the skin when applied topically.
Research has found that papaya has often been used to treat skin ailments because it produces phytochemicals (AKA highly effective and efficient antioxidants), which help to neutralize skin-damaging free radicals.
Additionally, the combination of papain and other fruit enzymes makes it a natural exfoliator. Using papaya in a DIY mask will help remove dead skin cells for more radiant skin and clear pores. The fruit also contains citric and malic acids which are proven ingredients for treating hyperpigmentation.
To try it a papaya mask at home, simply mash up a quarter cup of papaya and add milk or honey to the fruit to create a paste. Apply it to your face and neck and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse. Use once a week for best results.
Papaya Smoothie Recipe
This papaya smoothie’s benefits are nearly endless: You get all of the incredible health benefits from the papaya fruit plus extra hydration thanks to coconut water—all blended in a quick, portable, delicious snack. Here’s a simple, satisfying papaya smoothie that will tackle bloat and keep your digestion moving.
De-Bloating Tropical Smoothie
- 1 cup diced papaya (seeds removed)
- 1 frozen banana
- 1/2 cup coconut water
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- Blend until smooth.