Watermelon and Papaya in the 'Clean Fifteen'


The thick skin of the papaya and the tough rind of the watermelon provide a natural defence to any chemicals. It is always a good idea to wash well before slicing to prevent the transfer of any pesticide residue, dirt or bacteria from the knife onto the flesh.


While we are considering these fruits it is a good opportunity to mention glycaemic index and glycaemic load, and the difference between the two.

The glycaemic index (GI) is a numerical system of measuring how much of a rise in circulating blood sugar a carbohydrate triggers–the higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response. So a low GI food will cause a small rise, while a high GI food will trigger a dramatic spike.  A GI of 55 or less is low.




The glycaemic load (GL)  gives a fuller picture than the glycaemic index. A GI value tells you how rapidly a particular carbohydrate turns into sugar, but it doesn’t tell you how much of that carbohydrate is in a serving of a particular food. You need to know both things to understand a food’s effect on blood sugar, and this is the glycaemic load. The carbohydrate in watermelon has a high GI (72), but because there isn’t a lot of it, watermelon’s glycemic load is relatively low (4). A GL of 20 or more is high, a GL of 11 to 19 inclusive is medium, and a GL of 10 or less is low. The glycaemic load of papaya is 10.


Charts and graphs for GI and GL do vary, but generally it gives an idea of how a food will effect blood sugar levels.  This may be helpful if you are thinking of giving snacks and fruit to toddlers, even fruit with a high GL may give them a sugar rush. Remember that for adults and children alike, we want a steady release of sugar into the blood, providing an even source of energy and reducing the burden on the pancreas to produce insulin.


For any who are following a Nutritionhelp programme, these fruits should not be included in the diet. However, if you are preparing meals for others, for a simple dessert that won’t have you slaving in the kitchen, try blending papaya and watermelon, either separately or together (2 cups of each), with a dash of lime juice and a little water, to make delicious smoothies. Serve in pretty glasses as an alternative dessert for dinner parties.