Is mango and papaya safe during pregnancy?

Both mango and papaya are fruits rich in vitamins A and C. Especially papaya is rich with B vitamin folate which is extremely important during the very early development stages of the baby. Many moms-to-be are warned to avoid eating these fruits during pregnancy but are seldom told the “real” reason behind it – well, I am one of those moms. Here are some facts about both the fruits that may help to debunk some popular myths.

Papaya:

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The Good: In its ripe form it is known for improving vision, digestion and packed with Vitamin C, folate and Vitamin A. During pregnancy, papaya is recommended to be eaten in its completely ripe form only. Ripe papayas have yellow skin and if some parts are green, then keep the papaya outside at room temperature until whole of it turns yellow-orange but still firm [3].

The Bad: Unripe papaya can be recognized by green skin and if you cut the unripe fruit, a white liquid oozes out from the unripe parts known as latex which contains a chemical papain. Papain is popularly used in South America as meat tenderizer and is sold there in powdered form [1], as papain breaks down tough meat fibers. This chemical might also cause birth defects and fetal poisoning, and may also induce labor [2]. It is also known to cause skin irritation on contact.

The Way Out: It’s a good idea to eat this fruit (about a cup of diced papaya everyday) during the pre-pregnancy stage, to pack up the vitamins needed for the baby’s first stages of development. During pregnancy, it’s always best to eat it only in its fully ripe form. Do consult your OB/GYN or dietician for any doubts.

Mango:

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The Good: I had posted earlier about the good in mangoes. But briefly, mangoes are known to contain majorly Vitamin A and Vitamin C and a good source of dietary fiber and beta carotene. This fruit has many more health benefits and is usually advised to be eaten in moderation.

The Bad: There is actually nothing wrong with eating mangoes. A very popular myth in India is not to eat mangoes during pregnancy as it “increases body heat”.

I came across a term thermogenesis – “Digestion and subsequent processing of food by the body also uses energy and produces heat. This phenomenon, known as the thermic effect of food (or diet-induced thermogenesis), accounts for about 10 percent of daily energy expenditure, varying somewhat with the composition of the diet and prior dietary practices.”- As quoted in Encyclopedia Britannica.

Foods such as chilies, ginger, green tea and spices etc increase metabolic rate and our body needs to use extra calories to process and store them in the body (a popular way to reduce weight by diet). But mangoes, I don’t see why it’s said that it increases body heat and may harm the baby. Even papaya is being told as thermogenic which is a myth.

Mangoes have high carbohydrate content compared to other fruits, so doctors may ask women with high blood sugar to avoid it during pregnancy.

Mango also contains a resinous substance usually on its peel which can irritate skin. The fruit should be therefore washed and cleaned properly before peeling or slicing the fruit, so that the flesh is not contaminated with the resin.

The Way Out: The conditions that restrict mangoes in diet are high blood sugar and a low carb diet. Having one or two small sized mangoes a day should not pose any health risk for a normal and healthy person. Therefore, during pregnancy, consuming mangoes should not pose any health risk. If you have any doubts about consuming this fruit please consult your OB/GYN or dietician.

References:

  1. Wikipedia – Papain
  2. WebMD
  3. Encyclopedia Britannica


I am a mother of a 6 year old. My life's experiences and the desire to be a better parent inspired me to create SmartMomz. It has been a great learning experience and I am still learning something new everyday, which is amazing! Building SmartMomz has helped me understand much more about motherhood and about myself as a mother. I am a geeky mom with great interest in design, technology and gadgets.

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thank you so much for your post. I love mangoes and i am eating mangoes but i got worried because some people said not to eat food that causes body heat. of course, since my positive pregnancy test i am eating things in moderation but it still got me a little worried. 


in regards to mangoes, i usually eat the very ripe ones, but i remember when i was little we used to eat really sour green ones. Perhaps the unripe ones may have the same effect of unripe papayas? what do u think?


thank you again for your post!

cheers from the US.

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