Can You Eat Papaya During Pregnancy?

Can You Eat Papaya During Pregnancy?

You might’ve heard of a few red-flag foods to avoid while you’re pregnant.

Like, soft cheeses, raw meat, raw fish

But there are actually a number of foods you should ‘approach with caution’, too.

And papaya is one of them. 😬

“But, how could a fresh and delicious fruit be anything but healthy for pregnancy?!”


We hear you — so, let’s jump right into it and work out why you should be mindful about eating this fruit when you’re pregnant. 👇

In this article: 📝

  • Is eating papaya safe during pregnancy?
  • Why are unripe papayas unsafe to eat during pregnancy?
  • Can eating papaya cause miscarriage in pregnancies?
  • Is papaya leaf safe in pregnancy?
  • So, should you avoid papaya altogether when pregnant?
  • What other fruits should I avoid during pregnancy?
  • “I ate papaya during pregnancy — now what?”

Is eating papaya safe during pregnancy?

So, the short answer — yes, and no.

It mostly depends on how ripe, or unripe, the papaya is, as to whether it’s safe to eat when you’re pregnant.

Wild, right?!

Who knew so much could change within a fruit based on its ripeness? 🤯

So, which should you avoid?

  • ✅ Ripe papaya: Tick, tick, tick! A nutritious and delicious addition to your pregnancy diet.
  • ❌ Unripe papaya: Red flag — steer clear.

Why are unripe papayas unsafe to eat during pregnancy?

So, it’s all to do with unripe papayas containing latex, which contains an enzyme called papain.

Latex?! As in… latex? 🤔

We know — it sounds weird.

But before papaya ripens, this latex is prominent in the fruit, and it’s been linked to some potentially harmful effects on pregnancies.

It’s thought papain could poison the fetus, or cause birth defects.

There’s also a study on pregnant rats that found ingesting papain caused contractions to occur early — suggesting that it may interfere with premature births, and that it may have hormone-like activity.

But it doesn’t end there…

Not only can papain interfere with pregnancies, but eating too much unripe papaya can also damage your esophagus.

The latex in the fruit can also be a trigger for allergies and irritation.

So, basically, unripe papaya is a big, fat, nope. 🙅‍♀️

So be sure to avoid it during your pregnancy, and also be mindful about eating it generally, too.

Can eating papaya cause miscarriage in pregnancies?

Good news — ripe papaya has no links to causing miscarriages in pregnancies. 🎉

But with unripe papayas, it’s a bit more unknown. 🤷‍♀️

There’s limited research into whether eating unripe papaya can cause miscarriages, per sé.

But, other studies (like the pregnant rats one 👆) indicate that papain can tamper with the pregnancy itself…

So, it’s not unrealistic to assume that it could cause other problems in the pregnancy, too.

The latex, which contains the enzyme papain, may be responsible for messing with your hormones.

(Like they need any more messing with during pregnancy… 🫠)

In fact, papain has even been found to be mistaken for prostaglandins within the body, which is a hormone used to induce labor.

So, it’s best to err on the side of caution with this one.


Is papaya leaf safe in pregnancy?

Now, there is a bit more research into this one…

No — papaya leaf is not safe during pregnancy. 🙅‍♀️

Papaya leaves are thought to contain active agents which could be toxic to the uterus, and are associated with miscarriages.

Papaya leaves have been used in folklore medicine for antimalarial and antidiabetic purposes, and are increasingly being used across the world.

But, this study on pregnant rats found that being treated with papaya leaves for a long period of time led to these rats not giving birth to their babies — suggesting a miscarriage had taken place.

These results can’t be directly attributed to humans, but it’s a good indicator of the power of papaya leaves during pregnancy — so, one to avoid whilst pregnant.

So, should you avoid papaya altogether when pregnant?

Not at all!

Ripe papayas actually have a bunch of benefits for your pregnancy.

They’re a great source of vitamin C, which is a pretty important nutrient during pregnancy.

It’s actually thought that, on average, a small papaya could contain around 95mg of vitamin C, while the recommended daily dose for pregnant women is 85mg.

So, you’d be hitting your daily goals and then some!

Also, fiber is super important during pregnancy, and papaya is packed full of that, too.

Fiber helps to regulate your bowel movements, so the fiber in papaya could help to avoid or relieve any constipation you might be experiencing during pregnancy. 💩

But, it’s important to make sure you’re eating only ripe papayas, and any unripe papayas should be avoided completely.

What other fruits should I avoid during pregnancy?

As well as unripened papaya, there are a few other fruits and veggies on the ‘approach with caution’ list for when you’re pregnant. 🤔

One of those is elderberries.

Some recommend reducing the amount of elderberries you eat while you’re pregnant, or cutting them out altogether.

This is because elderberries contain lectin and cyanide, which are two chemicals that can induce nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

There is, however, not enough evidence to say definitively if elderberries are safe or not, so always consult your healthcare provider if you are concerned.

Making sure your fruits and veggies are washed thoroughly before you eat them is also important for the pregnancy diet.

If they have any soil on them, or if they are contaminated with bacteria or parasites from soil or handling, this can make you unwell. 🤢

It’s also suggested to peel or cook fruits and veggies before eating them, just so you’re covered from that standpoint.

Some veggies to be careful of are raw sprouts (so, raw spinach, alfalfa, clover, mung bean sprouts — the lot!).

🔍 Read More: Common Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

“I ate papaya during pregnancy — now what?”

Well, first off, if you ate ripe papaya, you’re all good, mama-to-be.

You’ve just got your daily dose of vit C — congrats. 🎉

But if you’ve eaten unripe papaya, it’s best to bring this up with your doctor.

In the meantime, avoid eating it again, and make sure that if you are eating papaya as part of your pregnancy diet, you choose ripe papaya only.

So, now you can tick papaya off your “can I eat it when pregnant?” query list. ✅

Want to understand more about what you should, and shouldn’t, eat during pregnancy?

Our Community is filled with women who’ve been there, done that, and can help you out.

Join in the conversations today on Peanut. 🥜


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