What happens when you eat raw papaya seeds?

Eating raw papaya seeds is generally considered safe in small amounts. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you plan on eating the seeds from a raw papaya.

Are papaya seeds edible?

Yes, papaya seeds are edible. In many parts of the world, papaya seeds are eaten as a food or as a spice. The seeds have a spicy, peppery taste that is similar to black pepper or mustard seeds.

Papaya seeds can be eaten fresh out of the fruit, dried and used as a spice, or ground up into a powder that can be used to season foods.

Are there any benefits to eating papaya seeds?

Papaya seeds are rich in beneficial nutrients and plant compounds that may provide some health benefits when consumed. Here are some of the top nutrients and compounds found in papaya seeds:

  • Protein – Papaya seeds contain high levels of protein for their size. Just 1 tablespoon provides 2 grams of protein.
  • Healthy fats – The seeds contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids like oleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and linoleic acid.
  • Fiber – There’s 5 grams of dietary fiber in 1 tablespoon of seeds, which helps promote digestive regularity.
  • Antioxidants – Papaya seeds are especially high in phenolic acids and flavonoids like ferulic acid and caffeic acid, which have strong antioxidant properties.
  • Carotenoids – Carotenoids like beta-carotene in papaya seeds have been linked to better immune function and eye health.
  • Minerals – The seeds contain lots of minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium.

Some studies have found that eating papaya seeds may help enhance digestive health, reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, improve heart health markers and decrease oxidative stress.

Are there risks or side effects to eating papaya seeds?

For most people, eating a small amount of papaya seeds is likely safe with minimal risk of side effects. However, there are a few reasons why some people may want to moderate their intake or avoid them altogether.

Potential side effects and risks associated with eating papaya seeds may include:

  • Digestive issues – Eating large amounts may irritate the digestive tract or have a laxative effect.
  • Harmful for pregnant women – Papaya seeds contain traces of an enzyme called carpain, which can induce periods and stimulate contractions.
  • Allergies – Those with latex, kiwi or pecan allergies may react to papaya seeds.
  • Low blood sugar – Large amounts could potentially lower blood sugar levels.
  • Drug interactions – Papaya seeds may interact with blood thinners like warfarin or blood pressure medications.
  • Kidney problems – The high oxalate content could potentially worsen kidney problems when eaten in excess.

To reduce the risk of adverse effects, limit intake to a sprinkle of seeds per day. Pregnant women, children and those with stomach issues or kidney problems should avoid eating papaya seeds altogether.

What is the recommended daily intake?

There are currently no official recommendations for how many papaya seeds to eat per day.

Most experts recommend eating no more than one teaspoon (about 5 grams) per day to prevent digestive issues. Spreading out your intake with a few seeds at a time is best.

Therapeutic doses used in research studies typically range between 2–5 grams per day but should only be used under medical supervision to prevent adverse effects.

Do they have a laxative effect?

Papaya seeds contain an enzyme called papain that aids digestion. This is why ripe papaya fruit and papaya enzyme supplements are sometimes recommended as digestive aids.

Because of their papain content, papaya seeds may have a laxative effect when eaten in large amounts. This could cause digestive issues like stomach cramps, gas, bloating and diarrhea.

One study in rats found that a very high dose of 900 mg of papaya seeds per pound of body weight significantly accelerated intestinal transit time compared to a control group.

Another rat study showed that eating large amounts increased bowel movement frequency and had a laxative effect comparable to castor oil.

To minimize the risk of digestive issues, stick to no more than one teaspoon (about 5 grams) of seeds per day.

Do they cause early periods or abortion?

Papaya seeds contain trace amounts of an enzyme called carpain, which is also found in papaya leaves and latex.

Some early research in animals and humans showed that high doses could induce menstruation and stimulate contractions, possibly due to its effects on progesterone levels.

For this reason, it’s often recommended that pregnant women avoid eating large amounts of papaya seeds, especially early on in pregnancy.

One case study reported that a pregnant woman who took a supplement containing papaya leaf extract experienced a spontaneous abortion after 10 weeks of gestation.

However, current evidence on the abortifacient effects of papaya seeds in humans is limited and weak. More research is needed on proper dosage and safety.

To stay on the safe side, pregnant women should limit their intake to no more than 1-2 grams per day.

Do they kill parasites and treat infections?

Papaya seeds, leaves and latex have been used since centuries in folk medicine to treat parasitic infections and other types of infections.

Compounds found in papaya seeds are thought to degrade the cell walls of parasites and potentially kill bacteria, yeasts and fungi.

Some test-tube and animal studies show that papaya seed extract may be effective against parasitic worms, malaria-causing parasites and Candida fungal infections.

While current research is promising, more studies are needed on proper dosage and effectiveness in humans.

Some people use papaya seed powder to naturally treat intestinal parasites and other digestive disorders. However, very high doses can cause adverse effects.

Under medical supervision, 2–5 grams per day is often recommended to treat parasites and other infections.

Do they have contraceptive effects?

Some animal and cellular studies suggest that compounds found in papaya seeds may have contraceptive and fertility-reducing effects.

Some small studies in rats and monkeys found that very high doses impaired fertility and altered menstrual cycles.

What’s more, many types of traditional medicine have used papaya seeds for centuries to prevent pregnancy.

However, research is currently lacking on the potential contraceptive effects of papaya seeds in humans. More studies are needed.

It’s best to avoid very high amounts if trying to conceive and to speak with your healthcare practitioner if you have any concerns.

Do they protect against cancer?

Papaya seeds are rich in compounds that may help protect against cancer.

Test-tube and animal studies show that papaya seed extract may reduce cancer cell growth, increase cancer cell death and decrease tumor size.

What’s more, several studies have found associations between eating more yellow and orange-fleshed fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids and a lower risk of certain types of cancer.

That said, human studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.

While papaya seeds may have anti-cancer properties, more research is necessary.

How to eat them

There are many different ways papaya seeds can be incorporated into the diet, including:

  • Sprinkling a few on yogurt, oats, salads or smoothies
  • Mixing into salad dressings, salsas or sauces
  • Lightly roasting and adding to homemade trail mixes or granola
  • Grinding and using as a spice rub for meats
  • Adding to desserts like cookies, muffins or puddings
  • Brewing into a tea either fresh or dried

When preparing dishes that contain papaya seeds, keep heat under low to moderate temperatures to preserve the nutrients. You can also soak seeds overnight to soften them before eating.

Opt for organic, non-GMO papayas whenever possible and rinse the seeds well to remove traces of pesticides.

Whole vs powder

Papaya seeds can be consumed either whole or ground into a fine powder.

Whole seeds work well when sprinkled onto foods like salads, yogurts or cereals while the powder has more applications for use in dressings, marinades, baked goods and more.

Both whole and powdered seeds contain beneficial nutrients and plant compounds. Using a spice grinder or small food processor can help turn whole seeds into powder.

Try buying whole seeds and grinding them as needed to take advantage of their full flavor.


Fresh papaya seeds can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 4–5 days. After this, they lose flavor rapidly.

For longer storage, dry the seeds completely and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. They can typically last for up to 3 months this way.

You can also freeze dried seeds in an airtight container for 6–12 months.

Already ground powder should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and used within 3–4 months to preserve freshness.

Side effects

When consumed in normal food amounts, papaya seeds are unlikely to cause negative side effects. However, higher doses may cause adverse reactions in some people.

Reported side effects include:

  • Digestive issues like stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating or diarrhea
  • Allergic reactions in those with latex, kiwi or pecan allergies
  • Lowered blood sugar
  • Menstrual changes
  • Miscarriage when taken in very high doses
  • Kidney problems in those with a history of kidney disorders
  • Drug interactions with medications like blood thinners and blood pressure drugs

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also exercise caution and limit intake due to the potential for adverse effects on pregnancy.

If you experience any negative symptoms after eating papaya seeds, discontinue use immediately and talk to your doctor.


Papaya seeds are edible with a spicy, peppery taste. They contain beneficial compounds that may have antioxidant, anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Eating small amounts is likely safe for most people but could cause digestive problems, menstrual changes and low blood sugar in high doses.

Pregnant women should limit intake and discontinue use if any adverse symptoms occur. Those with diabetes, kidney disorders or on certain medications should also exercise caution with papaya seeds.

For most people, sprinkling a few seeds onto foods or using a small amount of powder in recipes is perfectly safe and may come with added health benefits.

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