Among all the other tropical fruits, I find fresh papaya to be my favorite. After all, it is such a versatile food item! You can add it to milkshakes, smoothies, desserts, and salads, to name a few! But what if you are on a diet? Can you still enjoy this fruit? Especially if your diet is keto!
Is papaya keto? Technically it is not. And if you are following the strict keto diet, you might want to stay away from it.
However, if you are following a somewhat liberal “dirty keto”, consuming a half-cup serving of chopped papaya containing approximately 7.25 grams of carbs will not kick you out of ketosis.
Complicated right? Let’s dive deeper into this so you can decide whether you wish to include it in your diet.
What is Papaya?
Before worrying whether or not is papaya keto, let’s first look at what the fruit entails and how you prepare it.
While native to South America and Mexico, Papaya is grown worldwide in tropical locations. The fruit is typically harvested when its skin turns a yellow-green color. Over time, the skin turns yellow as it becomes ripe. The flesh inside it can have an orange, pink or red color.
While the black seeds within it are edible, the skin itself is not and hence needs to be peeled away after being cut open to get to the flesh and the seeds. You can choose to eat tropical fruit, either raw or cooked.
Why do I love papaya, you may wonder? As a mango lover, I find a ripe papaya’s sweet flavour as well as the creamy texture of its flesh, which just melts in your mouth!
Cooking with Papaya
There are quite a few ways to cook papaya (if you don’t like eating it raw). This includes baking, stir-frying, pureeing, and sautéing the fruit. Some people even use papaya seeds for seasoning by rinsing them under water, drying them, and then grounding them to form a powder.
Overview of Papaya’s Nutritional Profile
Papaya is enriched with various benefits owing to the wide array of nutrients it is packed with. This includes Vitamin A, B, C, E and K. Additionally, the fact that it has antioxidants means that it can help reduce inflammation, fight diseases and reduce the early onset of wrinkles.
Moreover, because it is rich in fibre and Vitamin C, it prevents cholesterol from increasing and regulates blood pressure.
Is Papaya Keto Friendly?
Before I revisit the question of whether or not is papaya keto, let’s first try to understand what exactly is a keto diet means.
But first, explaining keto!
A ketogenic diet refers to a high-fat and low-carb diet that many individuals take part in, in an attempt to lose weight. The diet calls for eating as few carbs as possible in the hopes that your body would stop breaking down carbs for energy and instead switch to the more available fat for this purpose.
When this metabolic state happens, it is called ketosis. There are certain food items that encourage ketosis and others that cause it to end.
The Elephant in the Room: Is Papaya Keto or Not?
If you are following a very strict low-carb and high-fat diet, then the answer to “is papaya keto” would be a resounding no.
Why is this so? Well, in a strict keto diet (also called clean keto), it is recommended that you keep your daily net carb intake to a maximum of 50 grams. But a ripe 100 grams papaya contains approximately 10.8 grams of carbs, 43 calories and zero fat. Hence, it doesn’t exactly fit into the whole low-carb, high-fat standard.
But not everyone follows a strict keto diet. Some instead go for the “lazy” or “dirty keto”. This is significantly less strict and allows you to eat processed and packaged foods. While still calling for low carbs, it doesn’t allow you to experience all of the benefits of a keto diet. But it can still help you attain ketosis.
While papaya has significantly higher net carbs than some of the “clean keto” food items, if you eat it in moderation, you can still enjoy it during your keto diet.
For starters, when eaten fresh, half a cup of fresh papaya has 8 grams of carbs, including 7.25 grams of net carbs, which won’t lead your ketosis to end. Similarly, a green (unripe) papaya only has 10 grams of carbs in a cup worth of serving. So, if you eat half a cup of green papaya, you will only add a nominal 5 grams of carbs to your diet.
The only type of papaya you should avoid in your keto (even if you are following a dirty keto) is dried papayas. This is because mere 40 grams of this variety of papaya has 33 grams of net carbs! That isn’t low-carb in any type of keto.
Papaya: Nutritional Profile
Are you looking for a more detailed nutritional profile of the tropical fruit to decide whether or not is papaya keto enough for you? If so, this section will satisfy your curiosity.
According to USDA, 100 grams of raw papaya has:
- 88.1 grams of water
- 43 kCal of energy
- 0.47 grams of protein
- 0.26 grams of fat
- 10.8 grams of carbs
- 1.7 grams of fibre
- 20 milligrams of calcium
- 0.25 milligrams of iron
- 21 milligrams of magnesium
- 10 milligrams of phosphorous
- 182 milligrams of potassium
- 60.9 milligrams of vitamin C
- 37 micrograms of folate
- 47 micrograms of vitamin A
- 2.6 micrograms of vitamin K
How to incorporate Papaya into your keto diet?
The best way to not overdo it with papaya and still enjoy it during your keto is to include it as one of the ingredients of a keto-friendly salad.
1. Keto Papaya Thai Salad
The star of this recipe is the dressing that you put on top. To make the dressing, you will need two limes, 4 tablespoons of fish sauce, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 tomatoes, crushed toasted peanuts, one red chilli, and 1 tablespoon of dehydrated crushed shrimp.
Begin by crushing the garlic, clove and chilli in a pestle and then add peanuts and dried shrimp to it along with chopped tomatoes. Then, add fish sauce and lime juice extracted from the mentioned limes. Stir it thoroughly and keep tasting it until the right ratio of lime juice and fish sauce is achieved.
Then move on to making the salad by taking one rutabaga of medium size, one small unripe papaya, half a cucumber, and five thin French green beans. Peel both the papaya and rutabaga and grate them into long thin slices. Then, cut the cucumber into long thick sticks, along with cutting the French green beans into half an inch pieces.
Put all of the vegetables into a bowl and pour your prepared dressing on top of it. Rather than stirring, toss the bowl until the dressing fully combines with the vegetables and fruits. Leave the salad for half an hour in the fridge to allow time for the dressing to soak before eating it.
2. Papaya Coconut Fat Bombs
Another great papaya-infused recipe for those of you who want something more than a salad is papaya coconut fat bombs! Don’t let the name fool you; this dish won’t make you fat.
To make this, you will need 3 cups of fresh papaya, one cup of raw pili nuts, one cup of coconut cream, one-third cup of monk fruit that has been granulated and one kiwi piece for garnishing.
Begin by adding all the ingredients into a blender to make a puree out of it. Then, pour the mixture into muffin cups and top them with kiwi pieces. Freeze it to make fat bombs. Note that this recipe is enough to make twelve fat bombs, and they should not be consumed in a single day during your keto diet.
Let’s sum it all up, shall we?
Is papaya keto? Because it has a significant amount of net carbs in it, it is not strictly keto-friendly. However, if you are cutting yourself some slack and beginning with the easier “dirty” keto, you can enjoy half a cup of fresh or green papaya and still achieve ketosis. Make sure to stay from dried papaya at all costs.
You can choose to add this tropical fruit to a salad or make a smoothie out of it. I would suggest you combine it with fruits, vegetables, or proteins that have minimal net carbs and/or high fat. This will allow you to overcome some of the disadvantages of eating papaya during keto.
So, what have you decided? Will you skip it or include it in your keto diet?
Regardless of which route you take, reading some of my other guides about potential keto and non-keto food items might be useful to you. After all, the world doesn’t just revolve around papaya, right?
And for the rest of you, happy keto! May the right fruits and veggies be with you. Good luck.
If you'd like to learn more about keto friendly foods, click on one of the links below: