Eating Papaya Seeds for Digestive Health
You can eat papaya seeds and they have some interesting benefits, particularly for your digestive system. For a more detailed look at the many other reasons you might want to use them, as well as some potential precautions, see the page on papaya seed health treatments.
This page will focus on what to do with papaya seeds and how many to take as a time. Also, where to get them and preparation suggestions for using the seeds from papaya fruit.
Where to Get Papaya Seeds and How to Store Them
The easiest way to add papaya seeds to your diet is to simply buy a fresh papaya and keep the ones you scrape out separately in a container in the fridge or freezer. This works best if you use them regularly as I do for a consistent supply. Even a small papaya fruit yields many seeds and should keep you going for several days.
That said, I do recommend getting the larger South American or Mexican papayas if you can as these are not affected by GMO issues. Many sources online are negatively portraying all papaya fruit as genetically modified. This is simply not true and a real shame when papayas are so good for you.
Only the smaller Hawaiian papayas have GMO concerns, with around 50% – 80% believed to be affected. Obviously labeling would make this clearer and not negatively portray an entire fruit over one isolated source. Until the wider American population sees past Monsanto’s marketing drive, please spread the word that most papayas are not genetically modified.
If you’re just starting out with papaya seeds, or using them less regularly, it would be better to keep them in a sealed container in the freezer.
They can be kept in this way for many months, though they should be defrosted before use, or soaked in hot water for a few minutes to warm and soften them. Alternatively, you could transfer any you intend to use for the next day into a container in the fridge the night before.
How to Eat Papaya Seeds and What Do They Taste Like
It’s recommended to read about some potential side effects and warnings on papaya seed enzymes, particularly if you are pregnant, have a stomach ulcer or are on blood thinning medications before using papaya seeds.
Men wishing to get a partner pregnant would also want to avoid eating the seeds as studies show they can temporarily but drastically reduce a man’s fertility. If, on the other hand, a man wanted to lower the chances of unplanned pregnancy, this page looks at papaya seeds potential as a natural form of male birth control.
If you do decide to use them then start slowly with papaya seeds at the beginning as, while they are safe to eat in small doses, they are quite powerful. For someone who has never used them before, perhaps just a few the first time would be a good start.
If these are well-tolerated, you can slowly work up over a week or two to a quarter of a teaspoon, followed by half a teaspoon, then eventually a full teaspoon of fresh seeds. Taken with each protein heavy meal, this should be a good amount to get the full benefits of their proteolytic enzymes for your digestion.
Personally, I generally just chew around a teaspoon of papaya seeds, both straight from the fruit whenever I’m eating papaya itself, and from the fridge before a big protein meal. The flavor is definitely strong, with a peppery/mustard/wasabi taste, but not too unpleasant to my taste buds.
I’ve noticed the pips from the larger papaya are generally sharper, whereas the smaller fruit have seeds that are comparatively mild. If you’re worried about the taste, it might be best to start with a small papaya until you get accustomed to them (smaller sized Non-GMO papayas are available as well).
They definitely do need to be chewed though, or crushed up in some way to be effective. The shells of papaya seeds are tough and unlikely to be broken down during digestion. Swallowing them whole probably won’t have much of an effect.
Papaya Seed Powder
Recently, organic papaya seed powder has become available that makes for a convenient alternative if it’s difficult to get fresh papaya seeds in your area. Due to the seeds being powdered you’d only need half of the regular dose of fresh papaya seeds.
These would be much more effective than papaya seed extracts or papaya seed oil that is unlikely to contain all the beneficial compounds of the whole seed.
Importantly, only use papaya seeds intended for food, like the link above. Papaya seeds for planting can be treated with toxic chemicals and should never be eaten.
Raw Honey and Papaya Seeds
Those who like sweeter tastes may not find the flavor of papaya seeds their favorite thing in the world. If you’re having problems getting them down, taking papaya seeds with a small teaspoon of raw honey is perfectly acceptable, as long as you still chew them up a few times.
In fact, honey is often recommended for use with papaya seeds parasite treatments, so maybe it’s not just to mask the taste. Manuka honey with its strong antibacterial properties would be particularly good for this.
Unfortunately the majority of supermarket heat treated honey is a very different product to raw honey, without the same benefits. Some has even been found to be mixed with high fructose corn syrup. Definitely something worth avoiding if you value your health.
There’s more on how healthy raw honey is here and I’d recommend using locally sourced raw or Manuka honey with papaya seeds, particularly if you’re concerned about treating the candida fungus.
True raw honey is antibacterial and antifungal and likely to be beneficial to your digestive health. Sadly the same can’t be said for adulterated and heated honey and you’d be better off having your papaya seeds on their own than with this.
Papaya Seed Pepper
Another option to consider for eating papaya seeds is to crush them up with a pestle and mortar and add them to recipes where you’d usually use a strong peppery flavor.
Papaya seed pepper steak from grass fed beef is particularly good. Start by crushing up a teaspoon of the seeds and rub them into the steak on both sides. Alternatively use half a teaspoon of this papaya seed powder.
Leave it for about an hour before pan frying. The papain will tenderize the meat, while the seeds add a mustard and pepper flavor and really help with digesting the steak once it reaches your stomach.
For another way to use them regularly, try replacing the black peppercorns in your pepper grinder with papaya seeds. To do this, remove the seeds from the fruit and spread them out between a tea towel you don’t mind washing (paper towels will only stick so don’t try using those).
Rub them quickly between the tea towel to remove any attached pieces of fruit. Wash them and spread out flat to dry on a windowsill in the sunlight for several days.
If, like myself, you don’t live in the warmest of climates, particularly in winter, a dehydrator is great for these type of jobs and will cut the drying time down to hours. Dehydrators are also very useful for soaking and drying nuts and seeds for delicious homemade snacks.
Once the papaya seeds are dry, they actually look quite similar to peppercorns and can be used in just the same way. Grinding a couple over a meal, especially protein rich meals, is a simple way to add extra enzymes to your diet and improve your digestive health.
The next page covers a more unusual but extremely important use for the little black nutritional powerhouses – as a parasite treatment. It also has a smoothie recipe that is now my preferred way of eating papaya seeds.
If you’re worried about the taste of them, but would still like to get the digestive benefits of papaya seeds, then I’d recommend giving this papaya seeds smoothie for parasites a try.
Photo 1: Tatters:) / Photo 2: Public Domain / Photo 3: Anne Roberts