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Are You Avoiding Papaya Because It Might Be GMO?

I used to hate papayas. I don’t really know why, maybe because I thought they weren’t as sweet as other types of fruit but then when I found out how amazing they are for your health, I gave them another try and I became officially hooked. Funny, how that works!

Papayas are very high in vitamin C, a good source of vitamin A and folate, and are loaded with the enzyme papain that helps you digest protein (which also helps keep your skin, nails and hair beautiful!). When I tried papaya previously, it must have not been ripe, because they are absolutely DE-LIC-IOUS and sweet when they are ready to eat! Yet, so many health conscious people pass them up at the grocery store because they are one of the most common genetically modified (GMO) crops here in America. While this is true, there are non-GMO papayas out there, and although they are not labeled, you just need to know what to look for. 

Medicinal Fruit Papaya

How to choose a Non-GMO Papaya:

There’s a lot of debate about the safety of GMO papaya that is grown in Hawaii. Some say they have introduced new allergens and some say they could harm the environment. Because I follow the precautionary principle, I like to stick to the non-GMO variety, here’s what I look out for…

  • Certified organic papayas are non-GMO. Organic is also the best choice to avoid these pesticide residues according to data collected by the USDA Pesticide Data Program. However, organic papayas can be hard to find.
  • Choose papayas that are grown in Asia, Brazil, Belize, or Mexico. All papayas that are grown in Hawaii may contaminated with GMOs due to cross contamination. 
  • Look for specific varieties of papaya, which are usually labeled at the store.

    • Choose Non-GMO papayas: Kapoho, Mexican Red, Caribbean Red, Maradol, Royal Star, Singapore Pink, and Higgins papayas.
    • Avoid GMO papayas: Rainbow, Sun Up, Strawberry, and Sunrise papayas. 

The magical papaya seed!

Can you eat papaya seeds? Yes, don’t throw them out! They are the most powerful part of the papaya. When I posted this picture below on Instagram, I got a TON of questions about this…

Papaya Seeds

Papaya seeds have been shown to be beneficial to the liver and kidneys, and may rid your body of intestinal parasites. You can eat the seeds whole, but I like to blend them up into my smoothies. I’ll cut the papaya into chunks and freeze the papaya along with the seeds. They can have a strong taste and are very powerful, so I don’t use a lot at a time, start with a teaspoon and move up to a tablespoon from there. You can also put clean dried papaya seeds into a spice grinder to sprinkle onto your food. They have a kind-of peppery flavor, and mix well into salad dressings or as a replacement to pepper.

Here’s one of my favorite new salads that incorporates papaya (and their seeds if you are willing to try them)… This recipe is refreshing, easy to make and will keep you full for hours! 

Lentil Papaya Salad_original-2

Food Babe's Enzyme Rich Lentil Papaya Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 1 cup sprouted lentils
  • 1 small papaya, peeled and diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Coriander Lime Dressing:
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon dried and ground papaya seeds (optional)
  1. Cook 1 cup of lentils according to package instructions.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  3. Place the lentils, papaya and veggies in a bowl. Top with the dressing and toss to combine. Enjoy!
**Please use all organic ingredients if possible.***


So what’s the verdict? Are you ready to give papaya a shot? 

If you are looking to stop your cravings or to incorporate more healthy remakes like this dish into your diet, you’ve got to check out the Food Babe Meal Plans for Health program. You get exclusive weekly tips, a new monthly meal calendar with recipes, grocery lists and the support of the Food Babe team. Hope you’ll consider joining us! 

If you know someone who needs to try papaya – please share this recipe with them, who knows maybe they’ll make a salad or smoothie for ya!



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78 responses to “Are You Avoiding Papaya Because It Might Be GMO?

  1. I love the idea of drying up the seeds and grinding them. This salad also looks amazing. I will be trying this for sure.

      1. do u know that non-gmo papaya has more viral particles than gmo papaya? Not to mention the viral particles cannot infect humans, but that’s for another discussion. Do you have an answer to this without deleting the comment? I would welcome a reasonable argument without the whole ” haters” reasoning

      2. I don’t know why people like you come here looking for a fight when you know you aren’t going to get it? If you want to eat GMO Papaya, then go do it and leave the people alone who don’t want to. They don’t have to justify it to you or to anyone else.

    1. I had no idea that choosing a nongmo papaya was a thing. Ugh, those gmos are really getting me down. I’ve even read that when you grow your own food, you need to buy non gmo seed! Smashing salad by the way. My dr. would approve. Keeps saying my cholesterol is too high.

      1. Getting Non Gmo seed isn’t difficult… I bought a bunch from Seeds Now, before figuring out it’s nearly impossible to grow in Montana without a greenhouse…

        I called the Montana Dept. of Ag. and they tipped me off to a greenhouse that sells Organic starter plants, certified by them, and they are doing great…

        There might be Organic seed companies in your area, search for them or call your state Dept. of Ag.

        Good Luck

      2. As you may know, cholesterol is NOT the enemy anymore. We need cholesterol for good brain health. Eat right, exercise, get on a major anti-inflammatory diet, and live! 🙂

      3. The body needs cholesterol for proper brain function. He’s just dying to put you on a statin, I’m sure. The side-effects are potentially dangerous. Dietary cholesterol is no longer a caveat according to new nutritional standards set by the government. They withdrew all warnings about dietary cholesterol. Eat garlic and good nutritional foods, exercise and all will be right in your world. ;-))

      4. Actually, it’s pretty difficult to get GMO seeds. There are none available to home gardeners. You must be a commercial grower and seek them out. The only crops available besides papaya are cotton, soybeans, sugar beets, canola, corn and one variety of squash. The papaya was developed because a virus was wiping out the native Hawaiian papaya.

      5. Yeah do farming yourself and then u would realize why gmo ‘s are lifesavers . It’s very easy to go after gmo when u are not the one doing the farming.

      6. I grow organic papaya with no problem. I don’t use anything at all. Not even water. They get enough rain where they are. GMOs are not saving anyone’s life. They are destroying life and saving the copyright seed owner’s pocket. The problem with farmers who swear by GMOs is that everything they know about farming is the monoculture green revolution system. If you want to have success with organics you need to relearn everything you think you know about farming starting with the health of all the organisms in the soil and their their relationship with plants. Bugs attack plants that are sick and plants that are in sick soils. What people need to realize is that every living organism that we know is thousands if not millions of years old in evolution. How did they make it through life for so long without our genetic engineering? They did it through trial an error, through evolution, and while keeping a balance. Yes we have many more people today but we produce enough food in this planet for 14 billion. We have close to half that number so the “how are we going to feed the planet” argument is a scam. We have starving people because of greed and because of degenerate politics. We have everything we need to live in harmony with nature and plenty for everyone. We just need to change our system and way of life to one that is sustainable.

  2. I am so lucky having a papaya tree growing in my backyard that started from my compost. It is near 25′ tall, 4 trunks the size of elephant legs and an abundance of fruit. My biggest problem is keeping critters from getting to the fruit before I do. Hawaiians had a superstition that one must eat at least one seed from the fruit if you were cutting into and consuming a papaya, I think the seeds taste like radishes!

  3. Thank you for all the wonderfull info you give. Without you, food in USA would not be better. there is hope in you.

    I had a question – what about WAter melons. are they GMO too ?


  4. Thank you! Yes, I have been avoiding papayas because of the GMOs in Hawaiian grown fruit. Glad to know the varieties and source countries that are safe. Can’t wait to try the seeds! Thanks for all you do!

  5. I have been avoiding papayas because of the GMO issue. I grew up in Hawaii and ate them all my life. I am now in Florida and cannot find organic papayas anywhere. Papayas have a lot of pests and fungus that can get them, so I would assume if they are not organic that they are loaded with pesticides. Any info on that?

    1. When I lived in Panama City, Panama – I saw papaya trees pop up from nowhere. Nobody cultivated them. Apparently some seeds fell into the ground, and they just grew from those seeds. They are incredibly prolific. It seems to me that if you buy some papayas, most any farm that grows them has no need to use any GMO version or use any pesticides. They grow that easily. So I personally have no problems just buying them from street vendors or grocery stores. Most all of them that are sold here in NYC are from Mexico.

    2. I bought a California organic papaya at Carrefour in Bali. This world is too mixed up!

    3. Funny thing, in 2013 I bought organic papaya at Carrefour in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. It was grown in California.

  6. And, another interesting thing about papayas and their seeds–they can prevent malaria! Not crucial if you are here in the U.S., but if you are traveling to malaria-prone areas, eat papaya seeds every day–or take 250 mg of B1. It beats the heck out of taking the pharmaceuticals like malerone, and it really works.

    When we go to Africa, all we use now is the B1. I can vouch for that. It really works. No malaria. One of our friends who lives in Uganda takes it daily and doesn’t get malaria anymore. When he stopped taking the B1, he got malaria again, so he started the B1 immediately, and never gets the dreaded malaria anymore. I haven’t personally tried the papaya seeds (or papaya leaf tea), but have read they will prevent malaria just as effectively. Apparently it makes the skin stinky to the mosquitoes, so they stay away. NICE!

  7. Sarah, above was talking about drying papaya seeds and then grinding them. I think they can be used like a pepper. I put them fresh in my smoothies, along with the fruit. I also add them to sautéed meat with vegetables, to help digest the meat. I put free range eggs in my smoothies, and papaya to help digest the protein.

    Keep up the good work, Food Babe, you know when you’re on the right track when the corporations start attacking you.

    When there’s a troll on the comments section of a FB article, click on their name. More times than not their page is empty, sure sign of a paid attack troll.

  8. Thank you for the post. I will definitely try this recipe. I recently saw a list posted on the web about the the most produced GMO fruits and veggies and papaya was on the list. That’s good info about the seeds being healthy for you. When I try this recipe I will be sure to post again about how it tasted. The ingredients and the photo seems like it will taste good.

  9. A trick I used during the 3 months I lived on the Big Island…. Since the original purpose of the GMO papaya was to eliminate the “ring-spot” virus (which they succeeded in doing), I felt safe in eating Hawaiian papaya, as long as it HAD the small spots encircled by a small ring, AND I was picking it from the tree myself (so I knew it wasn’t coming from a GMO farm). And no, there’s nothing “wrong” with them if they have ring-spot… They’re just a little less attractive to look at. I could be wrong about this, but I did enjoy some wonderful , FREE papaya… and I’m still here!

    1. Liam, You know that by selecting the papayas that have ringspot you are ingesting exactly what you would get with GM papaya right? The virus is present in both but the GM ones received it on purpose.

  10. Not to change the subject but are blueberries as good for you as they say ? Do they really burn belly fat? If so how much do you eat,how often, and how long does it take them to work ????? Thanks Joe.

    1. Joseph, -Good for vascular system, brain health, cognitive function, inflammation. With that said, there is no substitute for exercise and quality healthy food to get rid of belly fat. Try cutting out sugar – get no more than 15g daily. The weight will drop off. 🙂 also, you might try blueberries (bout’ 15) in your morning oatmeal w/some walnuts and cinnamon and a tiny dash of pure organic maple syrup. Drink 2 cups of organic green match tea during day. My stomach is flat and I don’t exercise due to illness, but my diet is impeccable. It’s all about the food choices. Right, food babe?

      1. Go John go!!! You are in the know and spreading the word!!!! Fantastic!!. I am a health professional with a big push on health and nutrition. You are really on the mark ::: Superfoods and some!. Might I suggest food combining and eating for your blood type. There is another book that makes a lot of sense; ‘The Maker’s Diet.’. Sometimes the more arrows we have in the quiver, the better. Check out ‘How To Be Always Well,’ written by Dr. Howard Hay. The book was written in the forties. Imagine that!!! This doctor claims that if his patients followed his coaching/diet, they walked from their diseases. The only snag was if someone had suffered a major stroke or heart attack and the tissue damage was too severe/permanent . The book is out of print so check out a good used book store. I just recently sat in a lecture on ‘Functional Medicine’ and a group of folks suffering from Alzheimer’s and of dementia, in short, they walked through diet change and high end nutritional supplementation. . . .and 99% had brain tissue regrowth!!! HalleluYah!!! Listened to another Dr. discussing the issues and misdiagnosed Gluten sensitivity. His clinical experience dictates clearly that some 90++ % of gluten sensitivities’ physical manifestations are misdiagnosed. It is not just Celiac. . If any one in your family/relatives have issues. . . YOU HAVE ISSUES!!! PERIOD!! This doctor is practicing in Incline, Nevada. . He had five pages of diseases listed, 2 columns/page that are associated. The good news was, that if one skips gluten, in 3-5 days, folks usually have a change in their health for the better. They also have specific gene tests that can be checked out. Back to Dr. Hay’s book! Huge data. It makes sense due to the reality that certain foods, being digested, can combine/be digested without any hitches. However, other food combos are a bad mix. They lead to inflammation, bloating, gas, indigestion and nausea. Sooner or later, here come the chronic diseases. Your genes can be activated to be expressed or inhibited by what you eat. Did you know that the doctor’s first question, a hundred years ago, was ” How is your digestion?” As you know, the current medical mode/paradigm is to treat the symptoms not the cause. . Look at their batting record. OUCH!!! and RUN!!! Did you know that 7 out of the top 10 killers of Americans is caused by INFLAMMATION and that comes from DIET!!! That came from the CDC!! Check out Pub Med. on gene activation or inhibition. An example of good food combining is::: eating veggies (except starches) and proteins. In other words, do not mix carbs/starches and proteins. Do not mix sweet fruit and acidic fruits and or do not mix fruit with protein. If you eat water melon or any melons the standard protocol is to eat them alone or leave them alone!! Try not to drink and eat at the same time. . .dilution leads to bad digestion. . …. Check them out!!! I have talked with HUNDREDS of people who walked away from their so-called incurable disease, their chronic pain, chronic inflammation and their $*#&%^@**%&% drugs from applying the info from ‘Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type.’ They have not seen their doctor in years. I just ask people to give it a try and persevere for a few weeks. If you give the body a chance to heal. . . it will. God Bless. Vani and her group is right on when it comes to promoting bulk foods. Period. Great post!!!!!!!
        p.s. nobody makes an apple like Him!!!
        p.s.s. Really watch your water quality and check out the reality of . . . . . . . . . ‘ water memory!!’
        p.s.s.s. Alzheimer’s Disease is also called Diabetes III. . . folks are cooking their brains on what they are eating and or not eating!!!.

      2. Great comments! I will follow your advice too. But what is green match tea?

      3. It was supposed to say organic green matcha tea, (Republic of Tea) not match. Sorry for the typo. I buy in bulk 250 bags for 52.00. Google to learn about Green Matcha’s health benefits.

  11. Hello Vani – love your recipes! I was wondering if I could make this salad the day before?

  12. Oh THANKYOU Vani! Its been so long since I had a Papaya. And now with your wonderful research I can look for the non-GMO brands! God Bless you and your work for all of us.

  13. Thank you so much for all the great things you taught me about natural foods and ways to eat healthy. I am going to buy you book as soon as I get back to work, I have been off because of Back problems, but I have been able to read a lot about healthy foods thank you.

  14. I have a dwarf papaya tree growing in a pot in my yard! Reading this makes me even more excited for it to start to bear fruit. I’ve had it for about a year, so in one more it should be ready. Until then, I guess I’ll be looking for organic ones to buy. Whoo hoo! Good info on the seeds too…I would have discarded them.

  15. We grow papaya here in Miami/Homestead. The local variety that I’ve seen is the Caribbean Red. Non-GMO, large, and so good! They also sell them in Costco, so keep an eye out for them.

    1. In Bali they serve papaya with a squirt of lime juice. Tastes much different.

  16. We eat the seeds in our house and yes they are strong. Hubby did a parasite cleanse and this was part of it. They contain cyanide that is beneficial and preventing cancer. Apricot seed kernels are amazing for that too as they contain vitamin B-17.

  17. To know the difference between a fruit or vegetable that is organic or not, look at the code #. If it starts with a 9, it is organic, if it starts with a 4, it is not organic. I was a grocery checker for years and we were taught the difference in order to know the correct prices, etc..

  18. I lived in Panama for 26 years, and am used to picking papayas right off the tree. Now I live in Manhattan and I buy Mexican papayas from street or mini-wholesale vendors. I avoid the small Hawaiian papayas, even though they are sweet. I let the papayas ripen some, and when they begin getting soft, I can cut them up. I love eating papaya with peanut butter. I buy peanut butter from whole foods – the store brand that only has a little salt added, no sugar. It reminds me of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that I ate when I was a kid, but the papaya is so much healthier than the jelly and bread that I used to eat.

  19. Thank you Vani! I have been avoiding papayas for years now because I thought that most were GMO products. I appreciate the list of GMO and non-GMO varieties. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe as well :).

  20. Every Papaya that I have purchased in SC and NC smells awful. Is that natural or is the smell because of how they are grown. I gave up on eating them because the smell is repulsive.

    1. I agree Ruvelle! Always thought it smells like vomit, so I haven’t been able to try it. My papaya eating friends say that it doesn’t taste like it smells. 🙂

  21. Oh my gosh! I love papayas!!! I missed eating them. Thanks Food Babe for the article!! : )

    I never ate the seeds but I will try them.


    1. Also you can make papaya shakes many Spanish restaurants make them and they taste YUMMY!!!!

  22. We lived in Hawaii for 2 1/2 years. They make a wonderful salad dressing using the seeds. They use the seeds in lots of things. I always eat the seeds. Good to know why now. Thanks

  23. Only papaya for EXPORT is GMO. The ones sold in Hawaii as GMO are called the misnomer of RAINBOW papaya.

    There is lots of non-GMO papaya sold there and they are easy to find if you look for them.

  24. Great Info!! I consume WAY more Mango than Papaya…..PLEASE any GMO info on that fruit?? I will research it on my own also but thought if you had any links or personal information that would be grand……Thanks for the latest Post.
    SO proud of you everyday fighting the fight~

  25. Hi Vani,
    Thank you for this information. I love papayas but haven’t been eating them because I had read that they are all GMO. To be honest I thought that was weird that a fruit such as papaya that is grown in a lot of different 3rd world countries would all be GMO. It didn’t really add up so now that you have explained the situation it totally makes more sense. I hadn’t gotten around to checking it out so thanks for doing that. Also, appreciate you posting the names of the varieties that are GMO, it makes it easier to avoid. I want to give your recipe a try. Looks and sounds yummy.

  26. To bring out the best flavor & sweetness of the papaya hit it with a squeeze of lime! Onolicous!

  27. Dumb article. GMOs are perfectly safe and there are a lot of benefits of GM technology. GMOs are awesome! No reason to avoid them or label them. The scientific consensus on GMO safety is as strong as the consensus on anthropogenic climate change.

    1. Go peddle your propaganda somewhere else. No one here is interested in what you are trying to sell. Why does it bother you so much what someone else chooses to do?

      1. If she wants to avoid GMOs, fine. But it bothers me when people spread lies and create needless fear and controversy over things that are perfectly safe.

  28. You can start papaya easily from the seed .You need to wash them and get all the “gel” off them as they won’t germinate if any is still there. Zone 8 and higher in the states the “trees will need freeze protection of a greenhouse. Seed will produce 50/50 male/female. Solo variety is hermaphroditic. The males put flowers up high. Females produce along the lower leaves. You need to “off” all but one of the males as one can fertilize many females. Be sure to wash the seed .I use a wire basket strainer.In a pot I would use at least a 10 gallon or more. Fertilize with a good fruit fertilize with something like Esphoma citrus or tomato fertilizer(organic).

  29. Oh I really don’t know about this. I used to eat papayas really much but then I was told that my skin would become yellow-er if I ate them too much. Then I stopped eating them and started to dislike them since then.
    And I don’t even know those facts about the seeds. Maybe I’ll start to give them a chance now.
    Thanks for the nice facts!

  30. HOWKA:

    Food Babe, try the papaya fruit from the Philippines or from Vietnam. They are delicious. Not GMO.

    Walk in peace,

    Jimmy “D”

  31. Hello Food Babe,

    I love your site and many of your posts but don’t you think combining fruit with anything other than fruit will do more harm than good?

    Have you ever been to Bali? Want a good reason to come? Let’s talk. I’m an American living in the “Portland” of Southeast Asia. It’s the center of the holistic- wellness universe. I would love to hear from you.

  32. To that dude Rock

    Monsanto’s is known to create diseases and infect non GMO farmers crops to sabotage and have them buy in to their seeds. This company has been deceiving America since the early 1900’s and is great doing it. Seems like Hawaii politicians are bought out because they let these pesticide companies operate freely here in Hawaii. Monsanto’s, Sygenta, Pioneer & Bayr is destroying our land with their poisons and using PR with schools and media as we all know they are Wolves in Sheep clothing

    1. How about Hawaiian rainbow species that are grown outside of hawaii? Are they safe to pass as non GMO?

  33. Vani,
    Do you still like and use the Mcbride Wheat germ & avocado moisturizing cream on your face?
    I recently read about your 5 beauty obsessions and searched for the cream and could not find it. Do you know if it was discontinued? do you recommend a different one that you like. I too have dry skin and the cream I use on my face unfortunally contains a lot of bad ingredients. Thanks!!

  34. Just a comment for your blog regarding the following sentence: All papayas that are grown in Hawaii may contaminated with GMOs due to cross contamination.
    You would be more accurate to say may be contaminated with GMO’s due to cross-POLLINATION. (Capitalized for emphasis to ease your finding the gist of my comment, not yelling!) You’ve already used the word contaminated in the sentence once, and it since you are trying to be accurate in use of science, I’m just letting you know. Thanks, and I enjoy reading your recipes. I’ve tried a few, and the papaya seed one looks great, although I am loath to buy papayas in the northwest due to the distance they have to travel.

    1. How about Hawaiian rainbow species that are grown outside of hawaii? Are they safe to pass as non GMO?

  35. The lentils in your recipe didn’t appear to be sprouted. If they had been sprouted, why would one cook them & destroy the enzymes? Raw, sprouted lentils are nutritious & delicious!

    1. as long as it is red papaya or heirrloom giant..the enormous original papayas.

  36. How about Hawaiian rainbow species that are grown outside of hawaii? Are they safe to pass as non GMO?

  37. I have lived in Hawaii 52 years and planted over 140000 fruit trees all organic….and given them away. All heirlook ppayas the large onjes which all papays came from are NON GMO and there is no contamination..never was.Also the Strawberry or red papaya was never GMO altered..,,,never.. lets keep to facts – more credibility then..the scare is valid as the sunrise or small orange papayas bred for marketing was created to stop the ring spot virus in 1970’s…and also the real danger is not as much GMO as the glyphosate or fungicides!!!! Grow you own ..the easy free simple solution…I have been fanatically organic since 1963…

  38. Anyone knows about the ones from brazil? I live in portugal and all out papayas are imported from brazil since they are not organic (every organic papaya i tried here goes from green to rotten, impossible to eat) i wonder if the ones from brazil are gmo or which ones are…

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