Is eating papaya good for diabetic patients?

Not everyone likes papaya. It’s a fruit favored by select people only. Papaya for diabetes affected individuals can help them in many ways. Let’s see how!

Nutritional analysis of papaya

Table showing nutritional facts of 100g of ripe papaya
Calories 43  
GI 59  
Saturated Fat 0.1g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg  
Carb 11g (of which 8g sugars) 6% of daily value
Proteins 0.5g  1%

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

Glycemic index tells us the rapidity with which a food item will increase the blood sugar levels. The glycemic indiex of papaya lies within the medium range of 56 – 69. However, a more accurate version is glycemic load which takes into account the glycemic index of the food and helps in the determination of amount of food item we wish to eat. n this case, it will help us to determine the recommended amount of papaya for diabetes affected individuals.

If we consider the GI of papaya to be 59,

the glycemic load of 100g of papaya shall be, GL = 59*11/100 = 6.5

Protein and Fats

The amount of protein in 100g of papaya is 0.5g which is equivalent to 1% of the daily recommended value. Thus, it does not increase the risk of excessive protein intake. Increased protein in diet in cases of poorly controlled diabetics can be risky due to the fact that diabetic nephropathy is one of the major complications of long standing diabetes and protein overload may add to it.

The saturated fat content in 1oog of papaya is 0.1g which can be approximated to be nil. High intake of saturated fats can cause increased blood lipid levels which, through different pathological mechanisms, can cause increased insulin resistance and diabetic dyslipidemic state. Since, the saturated fat content in papaya is nil, papaya for diabetes affected individuals can avoid such states.

Micronutrients

100g of papaya contains 101% of vitamin C and 19% of vitamin A, whereas, the ion content includes 5% magnesim and 2% calcium. Thus, the papaya can benefit diabetics affected individuals from its antioxidant activity (obtained from vitamin C) and the inverse association of the dietary magnesium with the blood glucose levels. You can read this article, to know how is magnesium beneficial to diabetics.

Read more on Functions of vitamin C.

Health benefits of papaya

The health benefits of papaya for diabetes affected and non-affected individuals ranges from antioxidant properties anywhere upto anticancer properties. These health benefits are attributed to the macronutrients, vitamins and minerals consisted in papaya. A small papaya weighs almost 150g, you can calculate the nutritional content as per the table mentioned above.

Health benefits in a normal individual

Papaya is loaded with carotenoids, especially lycopene, which is better absorbed from papaya than any other fruits and vegetables. These carotenoids have antioxidant property. This antioxidant property also imparts the anticancer property to papaya by its ability to decrease the free radical concentration which are responsible for causing the carcinogenic changes in body tissues. Lycopene is also known to reduce the risk of cancer.

Since, papaya is loaded with antioxidants, these also help in reducing the inflammatory states and improve the health of the heart in high risk individuals. The papain enzyme contained in papaya plays a role in the protein digestion. Its benefits are also noted in the conditions such as constipation and irritable bowel syndromes.

Some other benfits of papaya include:

  • Menstrual regulation
  • prevention of infections
  • relief from tooth ache
  • skin care
  • reduction in symptoms of acne and burns

Benefits of papaya for diabetes affected individuals (specific)

There quite a few health benefits of papaya which specifically have influence over the health status of a diabetic individual. These include, the role of papaya in weight loss, improving immunity, preventing infections, antioxidant effects, vitamin A induced eyecare and many more.

Diabetics are in a chronic state of inflammation which can attributed to the imbalance between the oxidants and antioxidants within the body (regarded as OXIDATIVE STRESS)  and thus antioxidant role of papaya is helpful.

Since the papaya contains least fats and carbs, their role in weight loss can be easily imagined. Also, weight loss is important for diabetics to help to improve the insulin sensitivity of the target tissues of their body. Regular consumption of papaya may also help in reduced intake of fats, thus reducing the possibility of high free fatty acids in blood. This too helps in improving insulin sensitivity by reducing the visceral fats.

Recommended intake of papaya for diabetes

Let us calculate how much of papaya is benefical for diabetes…

Recommended amount

As we know, carbs are the first thing to be reduced or avoided in the diet, we always calculate the recommended amount of a food item on the basis of this fact.

Thus, while calculating the recommended amount for papaya, we need to ponder upon its glycemic index and glycemic load. At 100g of papaya, its glycemic load is 6.5, which is half way to the recommended upper limit of 10. Thus, the amount to be consumed in one serving can be increased to 150g (weight of a small papaya). But, however, it is recommended to keep it to 100g to allow enough space for more foods.

Papaya for diabetes | No benefits evaluation

Papaya can be eaten raw if its ripe or cooked if its unripe. However, there are a few side effects and contraindications where papaya is not recommended. These can be the cases of pregnancy, where unripe papaya is strictly not recommended because of theirs property to induce contractions. The papaya seeds can cause reduction if the nerve cell activity causing heart depression, paralytic effect or effects such as blood vessel constriction. Since, the diabetics already suffer from neuropathy and vascular disorders, it is recommended not to consume the papaya seeds.

Conclusion:

Papaya is nutritious with low carbs and saturated fats and high micronutrients such as vitamin C (almost 100%) and vitamin A. The recommended amount for papaya intake is 100g, but can be increased to 150g (which is equivalent to 1 small papaya). Papaya should be avoided in pregnanacy and its seeds can have increased side effects in diabetic individuals due to the complications such as neuropathy and vasculopathy (blood vessel complications).

clicke to see: Papaya facts infographic from organicfacts.com

Warning:

  • Almost every individual, diabetic or non-diabetic, has its own bodily mechanism and metabolism. It is always cautioned that food recommendations should be correlated with personal health history and the advice of the doctor.
  • These calculations are based on the daily calorie intake of 2000. Therefore, if your calorie intake exceeds 2000 a day, you can increase the ideal serving size and vice versa. However, the recommended blood glucose level still remains the same.

Also, it is a good practice to have a rough calculation of the nutritional facts of the food items before eating them. This applies to the people belonging to all the spectra of health and fitness and not just diabetics.

Do you want me to analyse any other food item? Comment your request below.

References:

Further Reading:

Motwani Chirag

Hey there, I'm a final year undergrad medical student at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Medical College (SSRMC), Mauritius.

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  1. Pingback: Can diabetics eat soya chunks? | Diabetics Today

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