A heated debate that has been going on between doctors and expecting parents is about whether or not papaya is safe during pregnancy. If it is safe, when is it safest to have papaya? What difference does it make to eat raw papaya or ripe papaya? Can it actually be beneficial?
Many of you might have received advice to avoid papaya like the plague. Others might have told you that it can help with morning sickness during pregnancy. Well, there is some truth to both of these claims. Read on to find out what is safe and what is not.
Why is raw papaya considered unsafe?
Raw papaya contains a high amount of latex which can induce uterine contractions, thereby causing preterm labour. This is why eating raw papaya can lead to a miscarriage. It also contains papain and pepsin which can hinder fetus development. Also, the papain can damage the vital membrane of the fetus. It can also cause placental bleeding which can be fatal for both the mother and the baby. This is why it is considered unsafe to consume raw or even semi-ripe papaya.
Is ripe papaya safe?
On the other hand, a fully ripened papaya fruit can be extremely beneficial for pregnant women. It contains beta-carotene, potassium, fibre, folic acid, and Vitamins A, B, C and E. It is also popularly known to improve digestion. It can even serve as a remedy for morning sickness. Heartburn and constipation are also other symptoms observed during pregnancy that can be solved by consuming fully ripened papaya. It can also be beneficial postpartum to help increase/improve milk production.
There is no need to worry about a fully ripe papaya being unsafe for consumption during pregnancy because it contains very little latex compared to raw papaya and that amount will not cause any harm. You should avoid it, however, if you have a plant latex allergy. If you have a latex allergy, then you would not be able to consume wheat or banana either. Also, if you are prone to or have a history of miscarriages, it is best to avoid having it during the first trimester.
But if you are a big fan of the sweet taste of papaya and have always eaten it without any problem, you can continue to have it as long as it is fully ripe. Do keep in mind that you should only eat it in moderation. A small bowl full of ripe papaya per day will not do any harm to you or your baby.
Tips to select ripe papaya while shopping
The best way to check if a papaya is ripe is by looking at its colour, testing its softness and smell. A healthy, ripe papaya will have a rich, dark colour. Avoid choosing one that has black spots on it. Instead, choose ones that have a dark yellow and red colour. Also, try pressing the papaya gently. If it is soft to touch, then it is indeed fully ripe and ready to be consumed.
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