Dried papaya spears are made from fresh papaya fruit, which is grown in many tropical areas. The spears are thin strips of fresh papaya that have been heated to remove moisture. This process reduces the weight of the snack and increases its shelf life exponentially. The nutrition in dried papaya spears varies between brands. Added ingredients, and the intensity of heat applied, affect nutrient density.
Dried Papaya Spears
Dried papaya spears, when prepared without added sugar, make a healthy snack on their own, or you can add them to some of your favorite dishes to make your meals more interesting. A serving of minced papaya spears goes well in yogurt, over ice cream, in cookie or bread dough, with trail mix or in smoothies. Since the length and weight of papayas vary, use weight, rather than the number of spears, to determine serving size. One serving of dried papaya spears is 1.5 ounces.
Calories provide your body with energy, but also contribute to weight gain if you eat too many. One serving of unsweetened dried papaya spears contains about 20 calories, or 1 percent of the average daily recommended intake, or DRI, which is about 2,000 calories. However, if you eat sweetened dried papaya spears, each serving contains about 140 calories, or 7 percent of an average DRI. While sweetened dried papaya spears do not add a large amount of calories to your diet, unsweetened is much healthier overall.
The DRI of carbohydrates for most healthy adults is around 225 grams. Carbohydrates fuel your muscles and cells with energy. One serving of unsweetened dried papaya spears contains about 14 grams of carbohydrates, or 6.5 percent of an average DRI. Sweetened spears contain 35 grams of carbohydrates per serving, or around 16 percent of an average DRI, in comparison. Most individuals consume more than enough carbohydrates per day, making the unsweetened variety a better option for a balanced diet.
On average, a healthy adult woman should consume between 22 and 28 grams of dietary fiber per day, and a healthy adult man between 28 and 34. Regular consumption of dietary fiber regulates bowel movements, lowers cholesterol, helps control blood sugar levels and aids in weight loss. One serving of unsweetened dried papaya spears provides around 3 grams of dietary fiber; sweetened dried papaya spears contain the same amount. One serving provides women with 11 percent of their DRI of fiber and men with 9 percent.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals provide your body with the required nutrients for proper cellular function. The exact vitamin and mineral content of dried papayas is typically unlisted on the nutritional labels. This is because the heating process can damage vitamin content. Raw papayas contain notable amounts of vitamins C, B, A, E and K, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese and phosphorus.