It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to email@example.com and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
Does papaya help you lose weight? How does papaya help our immune system?
There is no evidence that papaya is anything more than a good fruit. It is not a magical weight loss fruit as some might have you believe. There is no secret about papaya that will boost your immune system beyond the fact that it is simply a fruit. The websites that you read that say papaya is a miracle ingredient are simply scams.
There is some research, however, that indicates papaya may help aid digestion. The enzyme papain in the fruit mimics some of our own digestive enzymes, and also helps break down proteins in the stomach.
A large papaya contains about 150 calories and 7 grams of fat. Eating one would be filling and the equivalent of about 2 pieces of fruit.
We know that the more fruit and vegetables you eat the healthier you will be, but you could just as easily choose a pear or grapes, bananas, apples, or oranges. Eating healthy, watching your calories, and choosing great ingredients will help you lose weight and protect your immune system.
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS