three papaya halves cut open to show the seeds inside in reference to how to eat a papaya

How To Eat a Papaya

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How to eat a papaya? – that is the question! If you’ve always wanted to try papaya but just haven’t because you aren’t sure how to eat it – we’ve got you! While this tropical fruit may seem like a head-scratcher, it’s actually quite easy to prepare and eat. Get ready to dive into the papaya as we show you how to eat it and what you can eat out of it, seeds and all!

Papayas are not as widely popular as other tropical fruits — yes, Mango, we’re talking about you —, but over the years they have gained a good foothold outside of Latin America, their native land.  

Its tangy flavor, deep-orange color, and seemingly endless health benefits have made it the go-to summer fruit for many fruit lovers. However, despite its many virtues, there are still people who are hesitant to try it because they do not know how to eat a papaya.

If you are one of those people, keep scrolling, because today we’ll teach you everything you need to know about papayas — including different ways you can enjoy them!

Spoiler alert: it’s not as hard as it seems.

What Is Papaya and Where Does This Fruit Come From

Papaya, a.k.a papaw, papayón or lechosa, is the fruit of the Carica papaya plant. Its shape resembles a teardrop, and its weight varies depending on the type of papaya. Its skin has a yellowish-green tint — which becomes increasingly yellow over time —, and its hearty flesh has a deep orange color.

Speaking of its flesh, its texture is like a cross between a cantaloupe melon and a mango. It is soft, but not so soft that it melts in the mouth. In terms of flavor, its pulp is sweet, very similar to cantaloupe, but tangy at the same time. Inside you will find glossy black seeds, which taste too spicy for most people. 

The origin of this tropical fruit can be found in Latin America, more specifically, around Central America. However, it has not yet been possible to pinpoint an exact place as the region where papaya was born. It could be Panama, southern Mexico, or even the Peruvian Andes. Either way, its growth and production spread from those regions to the rest of Latin America, resulting in the development of more than 50 different types of papayas. Among the most well-known are the Mexican papaya and the Hawaiian papaya.

Benefits of Eating Papaya

It’s no surprise that papaya has many health benefits. For starters, it is low in calories and stands out for its vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A content, which gives it high antioxidant properties. It might protect your skin, boost your immune system, and even reduce the risk of heart disease.

As far as antioxidants go, papayas are also rich in folic acid, which might further help prevent heart disease. Among the minerals they hold are potassium and calcium, which are not their main health benefits by any means, but they are there and do add to wellness.

However, what is really special about papaya is its high fiber content — which helps with constipation — and papain, an enzyme that aids digestion and has anti-inflammatory properties. Fun-fact: papain is also used as a tenderizer! Actually, it is the active ingredient in most commercial meat tenderizers.

Last but not least, in some countries, it is used as a diuretic due to its high water content. Some even claim that it can be used as a treatment for diabetes, hemorrhoids, intestinal parasites, and other ailments. However, there are no scientific studies to back up any of those claims, so take them with a grain of salt.

how to eat papaya halves How To Eat a Papaya Entrées How to eat a papaya

What Part of The Papaya Can You Eat?

Technically, the entire papaya fruit is edible — including the seeds. However, later on, we’ll talk about its skin, which is best left out.

Our biggest tip on how to eat papaya fruit is to focus on its pulp, which has a delicious buttery texture that reminds of other tropical fruits. It is its best part, and to access it, you just need to follow 5 simple steps: 

  • Cut the ends off the papaya 
  • Cut it in half lengthwise 
  • Remove the seeds with a spoon
  • Peel the skin to cut the pulp into cubes or
  • Scoop it out without peeling it using the skin as a bowl

Once you have it ready, you can eat it as is — after chilling it in the fridge to enhance its flavor — or you can make smoothies, add it to sweet salads, bake papaya bread, or refresh your summer days with a rich papaya ice cream. There are countless recipes available for this exotic beauty!

Pro-tip: Some people consider ripe papaya to have an unpleasant smell, even comparing it to rotten salmon. That’s because it’s packed with papain, which gives it a strong, pungent smell that intensifies as it ripens. Fortunately for all our sniff-sensitive readers, you can minimize the odor by squeezing some lemon juice on top of the fruit. It will neutralize the pungency in a jiffy!

Can You Eat Papaya Skin?

Although you can technically eat the whole papaya, including the skin, it does not taste good. Also, believe it or not, it contains latex, which you can see when you peel an unripe papaya as a white liquid that oozes out of its skin. It is non-toxic, but it can cause stomach discomfort and allergies if you are allergic to latex.

Long story short, you may be able to eat the skin of the papaya without experiencing side effects, but it is best to skip it and save it for composting.

Can You Eat Papaya Seeds?

Now that you know how to eat a papaya, you may be wondering if you can also eat the seeds. The answer is yes, you can eat them. However, straight from the fruit they taste spicy and bitter, so they are not so enjoyable — unless you dry them in the oven and use them as seasoning.

Papaya seeds contain several essential micronutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. In addition to improving digestive health thanks to their good fiber content, some studies suggest they may help fight infections, reduce blood pressure, and protect kidney function.

how to eat papayas How To Eat a Papaya Entrées How to eat a papaya


Can you cook papaya?

We love to eat fresh papaya in a fruit salad or simply cut it into pieces in a bowl. But although we prefer it raw, it is also an ingredient that can be cooked to prepare numerous dishes.

Green papaya is the most commonly used for cooking, but you can also use ripe papaya to prepare vegetable dishes such as santula, snacks such as kebabs, and even roast it and serve it as a side dish instead of roasted squash. Papaw is versatile!

Can you eat unripe papaya?

Unripe papaya has a very mild taste — you will only get its peak flavor once it is fully ripe. But if you want to experiment and eat it unripe, you can do it. Actually, if you want to know how do you eat papaya that is unripe, just ask the Venezuelans.

In Venezuela, there is a traditional Christmas dessert called “dulce de lechosa” — which translates to “papaya candy” — that is made by boiling green papaya and adding papelón (unrefined whole cane sugar), vanilla, cloves, and cinnamon. The result is super sweet semi-hard chunks of papaya, perfect for satisfying a heavy sweet tooth.

Can you eat green papaya?

You can definitely eat green papaya! In fact, green papaya is just unripe papaya under a different name. It is very popular in Thai cuisine and Southeast Asian cuisine — you can find it in salads, stews, or stir-fries.

Plus, green papaya also has health benefits. It has a higher amount of potassium than ripe papayas, can aid digestion, boost metabolism, and can even act as a skin exfoliant thanks to its papain enzyme.

How much papaya should I eat per day?

Taking advantage of the nutritional benefits of papaya is great, but too much of anything is always bad. If you overdo it, it can have a strong laxative effect and cause an upset stomach. There is no set amount, that we can tell you – just don’t go too crazy.

Also, if you are allergic to latex, chances are you are allergic to papaya as well. In that case, we strongly discourage you from eating any amount of papaya at all.

Final Thoughts

Although papaya often takes a backseat on the tropical fruit bus, its health benefits and distinctive flavor make it a pleasure to eat — even more so if you know how to do it!

As you could tell, learning how to eat a papaya is as easy as pie. Just cut it, scrape out the seeds, peel the skin, and enjoy. Moreover, you can not only eat it raw but also cooked in a variety of recipes ranging from sweet to savory. Papayeah!

Last but not least, we can’t end this post without once again giving kudos to its multiple health benefits. It has so many that it makes it a superfruit! Without a doubt, papayas are great, and if they make their way into your kitchen, you will always want to have them there.

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