Papaya makes a brilliant breakfast option. It’s great for your digestive system, your hair, and your skin. Packed with minerals like calcium, potassium, fiber, flavonoids and carotenoids, papaya has a myriad of health benefits. It also plays a good role when included during pregnancy. But, is it safe to eat papaya during pregnancy?
Yes, it is safe to eat a ripe papaya.
Unlike its known risks that many women fear about, it also benefits when taken in considerable amounts. The below post will help you understand the benefits and risks associated with papaya in pregnancy.
Benefits Of Eating Papaya During Pregnancy:
- Papayas help overcome morning sickness.
- A ripe papaya has reduced latex concentration that doesn’t cause harm in pregnancy unlike the latex allergies that it might cause in many people. It causes redness, itching, inflammation, dizziness, abdominal pain and difficulty in swallowing. Those who are allergic to papaya also react to kiwi fruit, pineapples, melons, figs, bananas and avocadoes. So stay away from these foods if you are allergic. Consult your doctor before you include any new food in your diet during pregnancy.
- Papayas can also be consumed while you are breastfeeding.
[ Read: Fruits To Eat During Pregnancy ]
Other Benefits Of Eating Papaya:
- Papaya improves cardiovascular health and provides protection from colon cancer.
- Ripe papayas also contain beta-carotene, vitamins A, B, C and potassium that are essential to the body.Vitamin A and C helps boost the body’s immunity while vitamin B is essential for fetal development.
- Papayas are also rich in vitamin E.
- They are a good source of folic acid, and they contain fiber.
- Papaya controls and prevents constipation and heartburn. It also relieves bloating and gastric disorders, which are common during pregnancy. The papain content in ripe yellow papayas is also thought to aid digestion.
[ Read: Lemon Water During Pregnancy ]
The Risks Of Eating Papaya During Pregnancy:
In some countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, doctors typically advise pregnant women to avoid papaya during pregnancy. It is believed that papaya can cause miscarriage or even natural abortion. Unripe papaya is a complete no-no at this time.
Here are some other effects of eating papaya during pregnancy:
1. Causes Uterine Contractions:
The papain in the latex of unripe or even a semi-ripe papaya can activate prostaglandin and oxytocin hormones, which trigger uterine contractions and induce premature labor. A synthetic labor that occurs due to papaya consumption can lead to miscarriage.It may also lead to abnormalities in your baby. In fact papain is prescribed by doctors to induce labor pains. Papaya is a potent emmenagogue leading to miscarriage. Papaya must be completely avoided in the early stages of pregnancy when the placenta is formed, as even a small amount of latex can harm the womb.
2. Impedes Fetal Development:
Pepsin and papain can ruin the chance of the fetus’s survival or impede fetal growth and development. Laboratory research reveals that consuming papaya or parts of the papaya plant during pregnancy can cause anti-implantation, increased chances of post-implantation loss and embryotoxicity.
[ Read: 5 Indian Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy ]
3. Weakens The Vital Membranes Of The Fetus:
The papain content in unripe papaya can weaken the vital membranes, which affects the survival of your fetus.Papain is a proteolytic enzyme and is popularly used for cell dissociation. It slows down cell growth and tissue development in the fetus. Thus, the chances of fetus’ survival become nil.
5. Causes Hemorrhage And Edema:
Unripe papaya can exert excess pressure on blood vessles, and even lead to internal haemorrhage and bleeding in the placenta. It could slow down blood circulation thereby affecting the growing embryo in the womb. Edema, which occurs due to fluid retention in the body exerts pressure on the blood vessels and causes blood to pool. It also slows down blood circulation. Excess pressure on the blood vessels can cause internal hemorrhage, and it can affect the growing embryo in the womb.
Hemorrhage in placenta causes complications during pregnancy and delivery. Papaya can cause disruption in placental formation as well
6. Excess Bowel Movement Can Cause Miscarriage:
Papaya relieves constipation; it also cures inflammatory bowel problems. However, excess bowel movement can create pressure in the uterus and cause miscarriage.Though papaya is a great tonic for the digestive system, this beneficial property can harm pregnant women. Papaya is rich in fiber; it exerts significant pressure on the stomach and intestines and can possibly lead to miscarriage.
[ Read: Kiwi During Pregnancy ]
7. Effect On Central Nervous System:
Papaya seeds and leaves contain a toxic substance called carpine that damages the central nervous system.
8. Abortifacient And Teratogenic:
Papaya has two enzymes, papain and chymopapain. Both these enzymes are abortifacient and teratogenic. Well, abortifacient means papain will cause abortions. While teratogenic implies that the enzymes will affect the physiological growth of the fetus.
9. Previous History Of Abortion/ Premature Labor And Papain Effects:
Woman with a history of premature labor and abortion due to uterine contractions can experience bad effects of papain. Thus, it is advised to avoid the consumption of papayas especially in pregnant women who may have faced such problems before.
10. Stimulates Estrogen Production:
The papain in papaya also helps to regularize menstrual cycle. Well, the menstrual cycle usually doesn’t occur during pregnancy. Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is anything but a good sign; it suggests abortion or ectopic pregnancy. Papaya produces excess body heat and stimulates the production of estrogen in the body.
11. Causes Breathing Diffculties:
Papain makes papaya highly allergic, according to Purdue University. People who eat too much papaya have respiratory disorders like asthma, hay fever, wheezing, nasal congestion and breathing difficulty. Breathing difficulty in the mother means less oxygen reaches the fetus. This is harmful to the fetus’ growth. Also, the pregnant woman can’t have antibiotics as it can cause birth defects.
12. Causes Kidney Stones And Pressurizes Abdomen:
The Vitamin C content in papaya helps to build immunity. However, too much consumption of papaya can cause kidney stones. Once vitamin C metabolizes, it produces oxalate that can lead to the buildup of kidney stones. Kidney stones can lead to stomach cramps and this pressure on the abdomen can prove dangerous during pregnancy.
13. Affects Blood Sugar Levels:
Papaya is unsafe during pregnancy if the pregnant woman has a history of gestational diabetes.
14. Skin Discoloration:
Papaya is rich in beta-carotene that gives the fruit the orange hue. Consuming papaya can cause a benign form of skin discoloration called carotenemia. Avoiding papaya is the only solution to treat skin discoloration.
[ Read: Grapefruit During Pregnancy ]
15. Papaya As A Contraceptive:
Women who don’t want to get pregnant can consume unripe papayas. This acts as a natural contraceptive to keep pregnancy at bay. Papain present in papayas suppresses progesterone, the female reproduction hormone that is responsible for preparing the uterus for pregnancy. Papaya is widely used Asian cuisine, and many women have papayas for its natural contraceptive property. So that they can reduce the chances of side effects from birth control pills.
A daily consumption of papayas acts as an effective contraceptive. So if you are planning to have kids or you are already pregnant, omit papayas from your diet. Look for other alternatives that have laxative property, but doesn’t cause harm to the fetus.
There are many benefits of papaya; no doubt Christopher Columbus referred it as ‘food of the angels’. But as your pregnancy advances and the embryo develops, you should forget about having papayas.