Papaya Leaves and Keto – Can You Add Them to Your Diet?

From gurus to famous athletes, countless people have adopted the keto eating style. With an estimated 5.5% growth rate from 2020 to 2027, it seems that even more will continue to fuel the market growth. As its popularity grew, more foods and extracts became the center of attention. Promising some hefty benefits (1).

One of them is the papaya leaf extract. Its potent antioxidants with blood-sugar-lowering effects make it a practical choice for many. This widely cultivated crop has some remarkable pharmacological potential that can promote good health. But, is it keto-friendly?

The papaya fruit isn’t keto-friendly. But, its leaves are. Papayas can be very sweet, which is not a good choice on keto. While the papaya leaf extract is a powerhouse of nutrients, featuring plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The extract is meant to improve digestion while supplying the system with all the necessary compounds during ketosis (2).

If you want to know more about the impact of papaya leaves on keto, then you are in for a treat. We compiled a practical guideline that will take a closer look at the fundamental advantages of the leaf extract and papaya leaves in general, as part of your diet. So, let’s jump right in (3)!

Keto and Papaya Leaves – What to Expect?

A keto diet mainly focuses on a moderate number of proteins, high fats, and low carbs. Its dietary macronutrients are divided into roughly 5-10% carbs, 30-35% protein, and 55-60% fat. When on a 2,000-kcal daily diet, carbs amount to 20g to 50g a day (4).

What a keto diet does is decreases carb intake and replaces it with more fat. This drastic shift in foods means that the body can’t get enough carbs to burn energy. So, it produces ketones and burns the fat. This is how it creates that extra fuel. It achieves ketosis.

For a healthy individual, ketosis kicks in just 3 to 4 days after reducing the carb intake. It makes them feel less hungry, allowing them to control their weight gain. Ketosis is also known to reduce the possibility of seizures, which is why many experts are recommending it (5).

Papaya leaves are a well-known medicinal ingredient. They can be used in cooking or taken in the form of extracts. When cooked, it is a good idea to boil them, since boiling removes the bitterness. You can add the papaya leaves to salads, like spinach. Or crush them to use them when softening meat.

People also like to juice papaya leaves and use them in tea. This is a great way to make the most of its nutritional compounds. When in the form of an extract, papaya leaves can be found in tinctures, powders, or tablets. This is for medicinal use, primarily to boost digestion (6).

Papaya Fruit Vs. Papaya Leaves

The Papaya fruit is not the best option on keto. It is packed with carbs, which means it can jeopardize your diet. Although the fruit is rich in vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin A, copper, and folate, you need to watch the carb intake (7).

Papaya fruit nutrient info: 1 cup of an inch cut slice

Net carbs 13.2 g
Calories 62
Total carbs 15.7 g
Fat 0.4 g
Protein 0.7 g
Fiber 2.5 g

The problem is, only a couple of fruits are low enough on carbs to help the body achieve ketosis. If you want to take a bite of any fresh fruit, then you should go for strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries. Another ideal option for keto is avocado. It may not come to mind when you think about fruits, but it is definitely the healthiest option you can find.

Papaya leaves, on the other hand, can be good for keto. Its digestive enzymes help process the food quicker and supply the system with nutrients. The leaves have:

  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamins A, K, C, E, and B

The leaves can prove useful, only if people limit their intake. Experts suggest limiting the carb intake to 50g a day. What most people don’t know is that a 100g of Papaya extract features just 43 calories. If you are worried about whether or not the leaves can improve your health, take a look at its proven benefits below.

The Budding Benefits of Papaya Leaves

Papaya leaves have distinct compounds with a wide range of pharmacological potential. Even though there isn’t enough research to support their efficiency, they are still being used in tablets, extracts, teas, and juices. The leaves can promote good health in different ways. Here is a quick look at its benefits.

1. May Provide the Body With Healthy-Looking Skin

Keto makes you lose fat. It makes the face look slimmer, therefore “older”. Although the impact may not be that big, you can notice some changes. With frequent consumption or oral application, papaya leaves can help the skin maintain its softness, clarity, and youthfulness.

You can use papain, which is a protein-dissolving enzyme, and apply it topically. One of the key benefits is that it can act as an exfoliant. Capable of removing dead skin cells. Furthermore, it can decrease the possibility of acne, ingrown hairs, and clogged pores. These are all key factors for those who want healthy-looking skin (8).

In one animal study, experts analyzed the therapeutic impact of papain elastic liposomes on a thick raised scar that has an abnormal response to wound healing. After applying the product to the skin, the scars tissue appearance decreased. Accompanied by a reduction in collagen fiber and microvascular density (9).

Another controlled trial evaluated the effect of a papaya dressing on wound healing. Based on the reports, 64 patients participated, 32 of which used a hydrogen peroxide dressing, and 31 relied on a papaya dressing.

Scientists wanted to see which option would induce a better development and heal the tissue. According to the latest data, papaya dressing proved to be more effective and equally safe as hydrogen peroxide. It was a good option for postoperative wound care. It helped boost the healing process, allowing the body to heal sooner with minimal risk for side effects (10).

2. Could Stabilize Blood Sugar

A keto diet is often suggested for people with type 2 diabetes. It helps keep the glucose in check. By decreasing the intake of carbs, they can eliminate the glucose spikes and decrease their need for insulin.

Many traditional medicine practices are using papaya leaves to ease blood sugar. Animal studies show that they do have some potential. Papaya leaves are a popular diabetes management strategy. They provide the system with a hefty dose of antioxidants and blood sugar-reduction properties (11).

The leaf can protect the pancreas from damage by shielding the insulin-producing cells. Despite the promising animal research, there aren’t any human trials yet. That means that even if the leaf has the capacity to control diabetes, we need more trials to see whether it can help the human body in the long haul.

3. Supports Digestion and Eases Heartburn, Bloating, and Gas

Whenever people struggle with gas or bloating, they make papaya leaf teas. These teas may not be the tastiest but are a great source of nutrients. The papaya leaf has a ton of fiber. It plays a key role in supporting digestion.

When paired with papain, a proteolytic enzyme extracted from the raw fruit, then its impact can be even more substantial. Papain can break down big proteins and make them easy to digest. When you use the leaf while cooking, it will tenderize the meat.

According to a 2013 randomized controlled trial, papaya helped patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Volunteers with chronic dysfunction and indigestion of their gastrointestinal tract took part in the trial. They experienced symptoms of heartburn, bloating, and constipation. With pain as the main problem. After eating papaya preparations, volunteers improved their digestive tract physiology. The treatment helped ease the disturbances and symptoms of IBS (12).

Experts believe that more data is necessary to evaluate the leaf’s ability to treat similar conditions. Most of the currently available evidence is based on anecdotal reports. Nevertheless, these leaves still seem to have a lot of potential.

4. Can Prove Useful for External and Internal Inflammatory Conditions

A lot of people are using the papaya leaf as a remedy to treat joint pain, muscle aches, and skin rashes. These are all inflammatory conditions that need specific nutrients to ease the discomfort.

Papaya leaves have the potential to supply the body with potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Based on reports, papaya leaves in the form of extract helped decrease swelling and inflammation in arthritic rats. Its anti-inflammatory activity produced significant results (13).

Also, being in ketosis reduces inflammation. Compared to glucose metabolism, ketone metabolism creates less reactive oxygen species – which can lead to inflammation. Keto is here to establish that perfect balance. When you need a kick in the right direction, that’s when papaya leaves can come into play. They can give you that extra boost and get the body back on the right track (14).

5. Could Play a Role in Cancer Prevention

Foods and natural treatments don’t offer guaranteed cancer prevention. Nor can they be used as a viable treatment option. But, they can supply the system with beneficial compounds that can keep the body in good shape.

Papaya leaves are popular in traditional medicine since they can have some level of impact on specific types of cancer. But, more research is necessary to confirm that claim. What we do know is that the extract from papaya leaves features a potent ability to inhibit the growth of breast cancer and prostate cancer. As shown in limited test-tube studies (15) (16).

Because they are rich in antioxidants, these leaves are highly sought after. The antioxidants are here to track down free radicals and neutralize their dangerous effects. This makes the cells in the human body healthier, and less vulnerable to turning cancerous.

6. Might Ease the Symptoms of Dengue Fever

For those living in subtropical and tropical areas, this mosquito-borne illness is a common problem. Resulting in flu-like symptoms and increased fever. This can make it difficult for the patient to function. A papaya leaf is a go-to choice for treating these symptoms.

It can ease skin rashes, vomiting, nausea, headaches, exhaustion, and fever. In rare cases, where the virus becomes severe, it can also decrease platelet in the blood. Poor platelet count increases the risk of bleeding. So, it is crucial to have a remedy at hand (17).

Although there aren’t cures for the illness, many treatments prove effective at curbing the symptoms – one of them is the papaya leaf. In the form of an extract, the papaya leaf can boost blood platelet count and provide the system with much-needed relief. It is a lot more affordable than conventional treatment, making it a practical approach for low-income households.

Taking Necessary Precautions

Papaya leaves have a good record. Despite the limited amount of research, they are packed with beneficial properties that can promote overall health. The leaf doesn’t have toxic effects even if taken in higher doses. As shown in animal trials. In humans, it causes minimal adverse reactions. (18)

With that being said, it is still important to take the necessary precautions. Breastfeeding or pregnant mothers are advised against using it. Depending on which part of the plant they use, it could be unsafe. Those who are allergic to the leaves or fruit should avoid using it completely.

If the body is sensitive to any of its compounds, then the fruit can trigger a severe allergic reaction. When applied to sensitive skin, papaya latex could cause skin irritation. But, the seeds and papaya juice are less likely to trigger side effects if you take them orally. However, individuals who take extremely high doses before going to sleep can experience stomach irritation.

Those who are using commercially produced papaya ointments should watch the dosage. In the U.S. papaya ointments are popular and can be taken with prescription. Every 1g features 100 mg of urea and 8.3 × 105 USP papain. There aren’t any reports as to how much you should be using. But, it is a good idea not to go overboard. Contact a doctor if you are worried about the recommended dosage.

Final Thoughts

Papaya has been used as an alternative to standard treatments for many years now. It can benefit numerous ailments and provide the body with a hefty dose of nutrients. Overall, both the fruit and leaves are considered safe to use as food. But, the leaves are more tailored towards a keto-friendly diet. They have the right amount of vitamins and can help the body overcome different ailments.

Of course, just like any other product out there, papaya leaves come with potential risks too. People who are allergic can’t use it. And it is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. This medicinal element is a powerful antiseptic. With the opportunity to decrease inflammation, blood pressure, and control platelet count. All in all, it can be a worthwhile tactic when on keto.

Now that you know the benefits of papaya leaves, you can make the most of them. Have you tried adding the leaves to your diet? Was the taste to your liking? Share your experience in the comment section below.


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