In today's world we have access to huge amount of information, and this can be pretty overwhelming. One should carefully look into things and follow only those things that are proven to be safe. Taking care of yourself is very important, especially when you are pregnant. There is a huge list of "Do's" and "Don'ts" that are given to expecting women and all pregnant women pause when it comes to papayas during pregnancy. The fact "Avoid eating Papaya" generally fits within the "Don't" category. However, nowadays women have started consuming it during pregnancy due to its nutritional value. Ripe papayas are proven to be beneficial during pregnancy and its only unripe papayas that are considered as a risk.
Some Studies & Facts about Papayas during Pregnancy
In India, there are many old wives tales that strongly urge that women should not consume papaya during pregnancy or when trying to conceive. The reason behind those old wives tales is that papaya might cause abortifacient and teratogenic effects. In countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar, parts of papaya are used as an abortifacient.
According to studies, about 82% of women in India avoid papaya during their pregnancy. In Asia, some foods are classified as cold or hot foods. Hot foods are avoided during pregnancy as they are considered harmful, whereas cold foods are consumed and determined as harmless. Papaya comes under hot food category and hence it is avoided during pregnancy.
Also Read: 11 Food Items to avoid during Pregnancy
But, Is this a valid statement in this century?
It is always better to analyze the situation better, rather than sticking to the old stories. It is better to get expert advice or refer to trusted resources online to check for the correctness of the above statement. To know more, just read on.
Is papaya is harmful during pregnancy?
Actually, we cannot blindly say that papaya is harmful during pregnancy. There are lots of advantages when you intake ripe papayas during pregnancy. But you need to check about the risk factors of unripe (green) papaya during pregnancy.
Generally, papaya contains Vitamin A and B Carotene, which is the base for the development of the fetus. The primary reason for infant mortality and the low birth rate is malnutrition. Hence, it is essential to differentiate the facts from the myth regarding the intake of papaya during pregnancy.
Nutrients in Papaya
A well ripe Papaya is an excellent fruit and when taken regularly as it improves the digestion process, skin complexion and hair strength. It is high in fibre content and is a rich source of potassium. It is a fruit with all the benefits so what could be the reason that makes it a forbidden fruit for pregnant ladies?
The latex of Papaya contains Pepsin which can increase the secretion of hormones like oxytocin and prostaglandin. These hormones can lead to contractions of the uterus. In normal situations, these hormones are produced when the body is ready for labor. So, increase in these hormones, during other stages of pregnancy can cause early labor.
Pepsin is found in Papaya when its skin is in green color and as it ripens, the skin changes into yellow-orange colour. The ripe papaya does not contain enough pepsin to boost the hormone supply for labor so it is considered as safe. Pepsin can also cause latex allergy in pregnant women which can trigger them to have adverse reactions to certain foods.
So, should we avoid Papaya completely during pregnancy? And the answer is "No". Ripe Papaya can be quite helpful for expectant mothers in terms of nutritional value.
Also Read: Importance of folic acid during pregnancy
Benefits of Ripe Papayas during Pregnancy
Being, a high source of fibre, it helps to avoid morning sickness. Reduces heartburn and constipation problems which are common during pregnancy. Papaya also reduces bloating and acidity issues. Ripe papaya is proven to be helpful in good digestion and they are high in folic acid which is a very vital component of fetal growth.
A balanced intake of ripe papaya improves the cardiovascular functions. It is the package of antioxidants, vitamins A, B and C which are important for the immune system of a pregnant woman.
What are the Risks of Unripe (Green) Papayas during Pregnancy
- It is not recommended to eat unripe or semi-ripe papaya while pregnant. Unripe papaya containing high amount of plant pepsin should be avoided due to the following reasons:
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- Increases the production of hormones that can initiate the labor process. It causes contractions and the shrinking of the uterus walls may lead to miscarriage.
- It harms the uterus membranes so there is a high chance of risk to the wellness of uterus.
- Fetal development can be affected due to Pepsin. The high amount of pepsin can risk the survival of the fetus.
- Unripe papaya contains an enzyme called "Proteolytic" which is associated with cell destruction. It does not favor the growth of the developing cells of the fetus.
- Leads to increased pressure on blood vessels which could cause internal bleeding.
- Women with a history of early labor and abortion should be very aware of consuming unripe papaya as it increases the damage to the uterus.
Also Read: 13 Pregnancy myths and facts
The Bottom Line
Though there is a difference between eating a fully ripe and an unripe papaya, any diet during pregnancy should be taken in moderation and one need not avoid papaya completely. Ripe papaya in moderation is acceptable. We should not indulge in any food in high amounts for a particular nutrient. A balanced diet is very important for any pregnant woman. It is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional incase if there are individual specific questions and concerns.
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