Health Benefits of Pawpaw

Often confused with a papaya, the pawpaw is actually a completely different species. While the two fruits are certainly similar in appearance, the trees that bear them are unrelated. Pawpaw fruits come from the Asimina triloba tree, and papaya is the fruit of Carica papaya. Whereas pawpaws are native to North America, the papaya is a tropical fruit believed to have originated in central America and southern parts of Mexico.

Due to the two fruits’ similarities, some confusion exists as to which is which! In this article, we will be discussing the pawpaw/papaya that grows on the Carica papaya tree

How pawpaw's help keep you healthy

Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of pawpaw's

1. Pawpaws are a convenient and flexible treat. Cut a pawpaw in half, scrape out the seeds, and fill with cottage cheese, yoghourt or blueberries for a healthy meal or snack. The pawpaw alone averages 60 - 80 calories and 15 - 25 grams of carbohydrates depending on its size (range given is for average-size fruits). Pawpaw's are rich in vitamins A, C and folate, as well as potassium. An average size pawpaw contains 3 - 5 grams of fibre.

2. Pawpaws are loaded with antioxidants. Pawpaw's are rich in carotenoids, especially beta-carotene and lycopene. These powerful antioxidants help neutralize free radicals in the body. A number of studies have shown that fermented papaya extract helps reduce oxidative stress in older adults as well as in people with prediabetes, and liver disease .

3. Pawpaw may improve heart health. The processes that lead to arterial blockage include those of an inflammatory nature. The anti-inflammatory compounds in pawpaw including vitamin C, beta-carotene and papain, are therefore helpful in reducing risk for heart disease. The soluble fibre content of pawpaw also helps reduce risk associated with elevated cholesterol levels. In one study, men who ate foods containing carotenoids had lower levels of the inflammatory marker, plasma C-reactive protein. Finally, the potassium content of pawpaw helps to normalize blood pressure, when pawpaw's are consumed regularly

4. Pawpaw helps maintain eye health. The vitamins A, C and E, as well as carotenoids such as zeaxanthin and lutein in pawpaw can help reduce risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

5. Pawpaw can ease joint pain. The anti-inflammatory properties of pawpaw can help reduce the pain of arthritis and other painful conditions of the joints.

6. Pawpaw may help protect agains Alzheimer’s Disease. The high antioxidant content of pawpaws appears to provide some protection against the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. In one study, people with Alzheimer’s who took a fermented Carica papaya extract for six months experienced a 40 per cent drop in a biomarker that indicates oxidative damage to DNAiv.

7. Pawpaw can improve digestion. Another pawpaw fruit benefit is the presence of enzymes known as papain and chymopapain. These enzymes help digest protein, and papain is present in many digestive enzyme formulas. Recently, pawpaw extract has been studied for its ability to break down gliadin, a protein in wheat that is responsible for gluten intolerance v. Pawpaw enzymes are found in higher concentration in the unripe (green) fruit.

8. Pawpaw may improve the skin. The lycopene and vitamin C in pawpaw are highly beneficial for the skin. Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen and lycopene helps protect against free radical action, such as that initiated by UV light/sunshinevi.

9. Pawpaw tea benefits. Pawpaw leaf tea possesses a high level of antioxidants and therefore confers multiple benefits. The tea has anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties, is a digestive aid and may help skin conditions. Applying the cooled tea to the skin can also help improve fungal conditions. (See below for details on pawpaw tea available in the store and online.)

Ways to prepare pawpaw

There are many ways for you to obtain the health benefits of pawpaws. Here are a few:

Slice in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and fill with cottage cheese, yogurt, additional fruits such as berries and/or chopped nuts. This makes a tasty breakfast or midday meal.

Try baked pawpaw as dessert. Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel the pawpaws, split them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Arrange the prepared fruits, cut side up, in a baking dish filled with 1/2 inch of water. Place a piece of vanilla bean, 1 tsp butter and 2 teaspoons brown sugar in the centre of each pawpaw half. Bake for 45 minutes and serve with ice cream or non-dairy substitution.

Shred green pawpaw into a green salad.

Make a delicious salad by combining cubed avocado, ripe pawpaw and shredded chicken with light mayonnaise or a lemon/vinegar and oil dressing.

Add ripe pawpaw to your favourite smoothie.

Make pawpaw slaw. Simply chop pawpaw, tomatoes, onions and cilantro, then add lime juice and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavours to blend.


i. Relationship between fermented papaya preparation supplementation, erythrocyte integrity and antioxidant status in pre-diabetics PMID: 24316314 DOI: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.11.050

ii. A 4-wk intervention with high intake of carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruit reduces plasma C-reactive protein in healthy, nonsmoking men. PMID: 16280438 DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/82.5.1052

iii. A Systematic Review of Carotenoids in the Management of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. PMCID: PMC8389280 PMID: 34439503

iv. Oxidative stress in patients with Alzheimer's disease: effect of extracts of fermented papaya powder. PMID: 25944987 PMCID: PMC4405021 DOI: 10.1155/2015/624801

V. Papaya latex enzymes capable of detoxification of gliadin. PMID: 19156482 DOI: 10.1007/s00726-008-0223-6

vi. Molecular evidence that oral supplementation with lycopene or lutein protects human skin against ultraviolet radiation: results from a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover study. PMID: 27662341 DOI: 

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