As a diabetic, you can eat papaya with your condition, despite it not being a low-glycemic fruit. Papaya is higher-sugar compared to other fruits that are deemed good to eat for diabetes, but overall not very high-carb and can be eaten safely with diabetes in small amounts. Although it’s a moderate-glycemic fruit, it shouldn’t raise blood sugar levels too much too fast provided intake is reasonable and in accordance with the diabetic person’s individual nutritional requirements.
Papaya and blood sugar
Papaya is a source of carbohydrates, plenty of which are simple sugars, so it definitely raises blood sugar levels. But to what extent essentially depends on how much you eat. If the fruit is consumed reasonably, meaning small servings at once, then the rise in blood sugar it generates is slow and steady and, most important, manageable. Even for type 2 diabetics not on insulin. But if you have big servings of the fruit at once or pair it with other fruit or high-carb foods, then papaya is likely to make blood sugar go up fast.
How ripe the fruit is also matters. At their ripest, fruits generate their biggest glycemic effects. In part, this is owed to the fact that they’ve reached their peak, sugar-wise, and are readily digestible. But if they’re less ripe or slightly unripe, then they might have slightly less of an impact on blood sugar, especially fruits like papayas which are not a great source of fiber to counteract the effects of the carbohydrates. Most important, diabetics exhibit different levels of glucose tolerance so not everyone might react the same to the same intake of the fruit. In other words, the same amount of papaya might affect diabetics differently, some more, others less. Really, the best way to limit papaya and other fruits effects on blood sugar is to keep to small servings.
What is the glycemic index of papaya?
The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that measures how fast the carbohydrates in a food raise blood sugar levels. Below 55 is a low GI. Between 56-69 is a moderate GI. Between 70-100 is a high GI. The lower the GI of a food, the lesser its effects on blood sugar. Diabetics in particular are advised to choose foods with as low a GI as often and possible and avoid high-GI foods to the best of their efforts. Of course, how much of a food you eat also matters in diabetes. Because even lower-glycemic foods will eventually raise blood sugar if eaten in high enough amounts. Really, it all comes down to how many carbs a serving of a food gets you.
The glycemic effects of papaya are variable. The average glycemic index for ripe papaya is 59, a moderate score. However, the ripe fruit can go lower or higher on the glycemic index (56-60 or more). Some fruits have been found to have scores well below 55 (in the 30’s range). Green papaya glycemic index is supposedly low, below 55, but undetermined. However, since green papaya is unripe and, as a result, typically eaten cooked, know that cooking tends to raise the effects on blood sugar of foods because it breaks down the carbohydrates and makes them more readily digestible.
What is the glycemic load of papaya?
The glycemic load (GL) measures how fast the carbohydrates in a serving of a food raise blood sugar levels. Below 10 is a low GL. Between 11-19 is a moderate GL. Over 20 is a high GL. Essentially, the lower the serving of a food, the less carbohydrates you get and the lower the glycemic effects. The bigger the serving of a food, the more carbohydrates you get from it and the higher the glycemic effects. The GL score of a food is determined based on the GI value and number of carbohydrates in a serving.
Essentially, how much of a food you eat impacts blood sugar levels. Papaya glycemic load is 6 (for a serving of 100 g), 9 (for one cup of 1-inch pieces, at 145 g a cup) and 15 (for one cup mashed papaya, at 230 g a cup). Despite not being low GI, papaya is a food low on the glycemic load when eaten in small amounts, but high when eaten in large amounts.
How many carbs and how much sugar and fiber in papaya?
Papaya is not necessarily a high-carb fruit, but it’s not low-sugar either.
100 g of papaya: 10.82 g of carbs of which 7.82 g sugar and 1.7 g dietary fiber
One cup of 1-inch pieces (145 g): 15.69 g of carbs of which 11.34 g sugar and 2.5 g dietary fiber
One cup mashed (230 g): 24.89 g of carbs of which 17.99 g sugar and 3.9 g dietary fiber
One small fruit (157 g): 16.99 g of carbs of which 12.28 g sugar and 2.7 g dietary fiber
One large fruit (781 g): 84.5 g of carbs of which 61 g sugar and 13.3 g dietary fiber
How to reduce papaya blood sugar effects
If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic and looking to lower your blood sugar levels whilst still enjoying variety in your diet and good nutrition, then know you can eat papaya and other fruits even though they may not be low-glycemic or low-carb or low-sugar. Here’s how to reduce the glycemic effects of papaya:
1) Eat small servings at once. The smaller the serving, the fewer the carbs and the lesser the glycemic effects.
2) One fruit at a time. This can help you better manage your diet for improved blood sugar control.
3) Not on an empty stomach. Ideally, eat fruits after a meal, not before.
4) Plan your meals. Have fruit after meals lower in carbohydrates which also provide protein and fat.
5) Pair with protein and maybe some fat. Protein and fat reduce papaya effects on blood sugar.
6) Count your carbs for better blood sugar management.
7) Fresh is better than cooked or canned in sugary syrup. However, papaya canned in natural juice is low to moderate glycemic.
8) Consider your individual reactions to the fruit and adjust your intake accordingly. Eat less papaya if it spikes your blood sugar. You can up your intake a bit more if you respond well to it. Don’t eat it at all if you feel it’s not good for you.
Overall, diabetes and papaya make a good pair so long as intake is limited to small amounts. Research shows eating natural, unprocessed foods such as fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains contributes to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. These same foods, when consumed reasonably, help manage diabetes. Papaya is moderate rather than low-glycemic on the GI scale. However, if eaten in small enough amounts, it is low on the glycemic load, GL, scale. What this means is that, while it does raise blood sugar levels, if intake is reasonable, the rise should be steady, allowing for blood sugar control.
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