Diabetes is a health condition in which blood sugar levels are elevated above normal. This occurs due to a decreased ability of your body to produce or utilise the insulin (a hormone required to metabolise blood sugar). When considering healthy alternatives to a snack, fruits for diabetics, such as apples, plums and tangerines, are the best choice. It may surprise many, but papaya is also said to be safe to be consumed in diabetes (though in moderation) as it has a medium glycemic index (GI). This article will cover the benefits of papaya, along with various other fruits that can be consumed in diabetes.
Diabetes and Papaya
Among the fruits, papaya is soft, juicy, and contains less sugar. People with diabetes should be aware of a term called the glycemic index (GI) to identify which fruits or foods they can consume. The GI is the carbohydrate content of food that shows how quickly your blood sugar will rise after that particular food is consumed. Foods are divided into three categories: low GI (< 55), medium GI (55 to 70), and high GI (>70). Papaya has a GI of 60, making it fall into the medium GI category. Thus, papaya does not raise blood sugar too quickly and can be consumed.
So, is papaya good for diabetes? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup of papaya contains 11 grams of sugar. According to Diabetes UK, adults can consume around 30 g of sugar a day. This means that papaya can be included in moderation in a diabetes diet. Not only the fruit but also the leaves of papaya have been studied for their benefits.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research (2016), papaya leaf extracts have been found to lower blood sugar levels and aid in treating diabetes. This occurs because the papaya leaves protect the cells that produce insulin from damage and untimely death.
Benefits of Papaya for Diabetic Patients
Is papaya good for diabetes? If you still have this question in your mind, you must know that papaya has several health benefits due to a medium GI, and it helps reduce blood sugar due to its antioxidants. Papaya has high water content and is rich in fibre, aiding digestion and preventing constipation. Papaya also contains an enzyme called papain, which is helpful in wound healing and infection prevention in burns.
Apart from these benefits, papaya also helps treat diabetes, joint pain, and heart issues, which are comorbidities diabetic patients usually have. According to a study conducted in the Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity journal (2022), papaya can also help treat dengue and cancer. Thus, papaya is a beneficial fruit not only in diabetes but also for overall health and wellbeing.
However, for people with diabetes, nutritionists advise limiting papaya consumption to one cup a day. Moreover, it should be consumed as a midday or evening snack and avoided at night. Diabetic patients can consume papaya in its ripe fruit form, add it to fruit salads, or consume it as a juice or a smoothie to harness its wealth of nutrients and effectively manage the health condition.
Nutritional Information of Papaya
To know whether diabetic patients can eat papaya, look at the nutritional information about this fruit.
|Nutrients present in papaya||Nutritional content in 1 cup of papaya (145 grams)|
|Total fat||0.4 g|
|Total carbohydrates||16 g|
|Dietary Fibre||2.5 g|
|Vitamin A||68.2 mcg|
|Vitamin C||88.3 mg|
Alternatives to Papaya: Other Diabetes-Friendly Fruits
In addition to diabetic patients eating papaya, many other fruits for diabetics can be consumed due to their low GI or moderate GI status. Fruits that fall within a low GI range are apples, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, grapefruit, plums, pears, apricots, raspberries, and tangerines. Consuming these fruits will produce a low to medium rise in your blood sugar levels. However, these fruits should be consumed in moderation. Among these fruits, blueberries, packed with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and fibre, promote overall health and are termed by the American Diabetes Association as the “diabetes super-food”.
People with diabetes must avoid fruits having a high GI. Fruits like bananas, pineapple, dried dates and watermelon can spike blood sugar levels.
Overall, it can be concluded that papaya is not only effective at lowering blood sugar levels, but it also contains a plethora of nutrients and health benefits. Papaya is good due to its medium GI and makes an excellent diabetic-friendly snack if consumed in moderation.