Guava

Guavas (singular guava) are common tropical fruits cultivated and enjoyed in many tropical and subtropical regions.

Ripe apple guavas

Ripe apple guavas

Psidium guajava (common guava, lemon guava) is a small tree in the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae), native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Although related species may also be called guavas, they actually belong to other genera, such as the “pineapple guava” Acca sellowiana.

The most frequently eaten species, and the one often simply referred to as “the guava”, is the apple guava (Psidium guajava). Guavas are typical Myrtoideae, with tough dark leaves that are opposite, simple, elliptic to ovate and 5–15 centimetres (2.0–5.9 in) long. The flowers are white, with five petals and numerous stamens. The fruits are many seeded berries.

The genera Accara and Acca (formerly Feijoa, pineapple guava) were formerly included in Psidium.

Fruit

Guava fruits, usually 4 to 12 centimetres (1.6 to 4.7 in) long, are round or oval depending on the species. They have a pronounced and typical fragrance, similar to lemon rind but less sharp. The outer skin may be rough, often with a bitter taste, or soft and sweet. Varying between species, the skin can be any thickness, is usually green before maturity, but becomes yellow, maroon, or green when ripe. The pulp inside may be sweet or sour and off-white (“white” guavas) to deep pink (“red” guavas). The seeds in the central pulp vary in number and hardness, depending on species.

Culinary Uses

In Mexico, the guava agua fresca beverage is popular. The entire fruit is a key ingredient in punch, and the juice is often used in culinary sauces (hot or cold), as well as artisan candies, dried snacks, fruit bars, desserts, or dipped in chamoy. Pulque de guava is a popular blend of the native alcoholic beverage.

In many countries, guava is eaten raw, typically cut into quarters or eaten like an apple, whereas in other countries it is eaten with a pinch of salt and pepper, cayenne powder or a mix of spices (masala). It is known as the winter national fruit of Pakistan.

Yellow-fruited cherry guava

Yellow-fruited cherry guava

Strawberry guava

Strawberry guava

"Thai maroon" guava, a red apple guava cultivar

“Thai maroon” guava, a red apple guava cultivar

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 100g

Amount Per Serving
Calories 68 Calories from Fat 8.55
% Daily Value*
Total Fat .95 g 1%
Saturated Fat 0.272 g 1%
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 2 mg 0%
Potassium 417 mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 14.32 g 5%
Dietary Fibre 5.4 g 20%
Sugars 8.92 g
Protein 2.55 g 5%

Vitamin A   624 IU 12%
Folate   49 mcg 12%
Vitamin C   228.3 mg 254%
Vitamin D   0 IU 0%
Calcium   18 mg 2%
Iron   0.26 mg 1%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

In the Philippines, ripe guava is used in cooking sinigang.

Guava is a popular snack in Taiwan, sold on many street corners and night markets during hot weather, accompanied by packets of dried plum powder mixed with sugar and salt for dipping.

In east Asia, guava is commonly eaten with sweet and sour dried plum powder mixtures. Guava juice is popular in many countries. The fruit is also often prepared in fruit salads.

Because of its high level of pectin, guavas are extensively used to make candies, preserves, jellies, jams, and marmalade (such as Brazilian goiabada and Colombian and Venezuelan bocadillo), and also for juices and aguas frescas or may be used in a marmalade jam on toast.

Red guavas can be used as the base of salted products such as sauces, substituting for tomatoes, especially to minimize acidity. A drink may be made from an infusion of guava fruits and leaves, which in Brazil is called chá-de-goiabeira, i.e., “tea” of guava tree leaves, considered medicinal.

Selection and Storage

In the tropical region, guavas can be readily available year around. Red flesh variety such as “Thai maroon” flesh guavas are richer in nutrition than green-apple guavas. Oftentimes, the fruits are left to ripen on the tree to experience their intense, natural flavour. They can also be picked while green but mature, and later allowed to ripen at room temperature. Ripe guavas have a characteristic colour and pleasant aroma.

In the stores, buy fresh fruits featuring intact skin without any cuts, bruises, or patches. Placing the fruit wrapped in a paper with a banana or apple will hasten its ripening process.

Mature, yet green fruits may be stored for two to five weeks under ideal, regulated temperature between 7°C and 12.8°C, and relative humidity of 85 – 95%. Over-ripe fruits may keep well inside the refrigerator only for few days.

Preparation and Serving

Wash them in cold running water in order to remove any dirt or insecticide residues. Fresh ripe guava is best enjoyed with its skin. Remove any floral remnants (sepals) at the apex, and then trim either ends with a sharp knife. It can be cubed, or sliced into, as in apples.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Eat fresh guava as it is, to enjoy its natural flavour and unique taste.
  • Guava fruit juice is a popular delicious drink in many parts.
  • Sliced guava-cubes are a great addition to fruit salads.
  • It is also often used in dessert preparations.
  • The fruit is also extensively used to make candies, preserves, jellies, jams, marmalade, etc.

Health Benefits

Some of the surprising and brilliant health benefits are listed below.

Weight loss

Guava is very helpful for those who want to lose weight without compromising their intake of proteins, vitamins and fibre. Guava is very high in roughage and rich in vitamins, proteins and minerals, but it has no cholesterol and a low number of digestible carbohydrates. It is a is very filling snack and satisfies the appetite very easily. Guava, especially raw guava, also has far less sugar as compared to apples, oranges, grapes, and other fruit. Adding a medium-sized guava to your lunch and you will not feel hungry again until the evening. Ironically, it can also help with weight gain in lean, thin people. This is probably due to its wealth of nutrients, which keep the metabolism regulates and helps to promote the proper absorption of nutrients.

Diabetes

In a related benefit to blood pressure mentioned above, an intake of guava can also help those patients who suffer from diabetes. The high level of dietary fibre in guava helps to regulate the absorption of sugar by the body, which decreases the chances of major spikes and drops in insulin and glucose in the body. Studies have shown that consuming guava can help prevent the appearance of type-2 diabetes.

Eyesight

Guavas are extremely good sources of vitamin-A, which is well known as a booster for vision health. It can help slow down the appearance of cataracts, macular degeneration, and general health of the eyes. It can not only prevent degradation of eyesight, but even an improvement in eyesight once it has begun to degrade.

Cancer Prevention

One of the most celebrated and important benefits of adding guava to your diet is its ability to inhibit the growth and metastasis of cancerous cells. There have been numerous studies done in recent years on guava’s effects primarily on prostate cancer, breast cancer, and oral cancers. Guava leaf oil is extremely successful as an anti-proliferative substance, and has actually been shown to be more effective than some leading modern medicines in reducing cancerous growth. Guavas are also rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to be wildly successful in reducing prostate cancer risk. That same antioxidant has also shown to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, although further human trials need to be done.

Finally, the naturally high levels of vitamin C in guavas, which are four times higher than the levels found in oranges (the traditional vitamin C powerhouse), provides the immune system a huge boost in antioxidants. Antioxidants are the major lines of defense against the proliferation of free radicals in the body, which are one of the main causes of serious conditions like cancer and heart disease. Therefore, adding guava to your diet has numerous ways in which it helps you stay health and cancer-free.

Scurvy

Guava can outdo many other fruits, including orange and other citrus fruits, in terms of its concentration of vitamin C. A deficiency of vitamin C can cause scurvy, and proper intake of vitamin C is the only known remedy for that dangerous disease. In fact, guavas contain 5 times more vitamin C than oranges, which are often heralded as the absolute best source of that beneficial vitamin.

Diarrhea & dysentery

Guava is very rich in astringents (compounds that make your gums feel tighter and fresher). After you chew guava leaves, eat a raw guava, or use some guava-based toothpaste, your mouth feels healthier, and the astringent qualities also add substance to loose bowels and reduce symptoms of diarrhea. These astringents are alkaline in nature and have disinfectant and anti-bacterial properties, thus helping to cure dysentery by inhibiting microbial growth and removing extra mucus from the intestines. Furthermore, other nutrients in guava such as vitamin C, carotenoids and potassium, strengthen and tone the digestive system while simultaneously disinfecting it. Guava is also beneficial in treating gastroenteritis for the same reasons stated above.

Thyroid Health

Guavas are a good source for copper, which is an important part of regulating thyroid metabolism by helping to control hormone production and absorption. The thyroid gland is one of the most important glands in the body for regulating hormones and organ system function, so guava can help balance your health in many ways.

Constipation

Guava is one of the richest sources of dietary fibre in terms of fruit. Its seeds, if ingested whole or chewed, serve as excellent laxatives. These two properties of guava help the formation of healthy bowel movements, and aid the body in retaining water and thoroughly cleaning your intestines and excretory system. It is said that constipation alone can lead to 72 different types of ailments, so any help with constipation is beneficial. Your total health is undeniably affected by proper digestion, and more importantly, proper excretion. Frequent consumption of guava can ensure both.

Brain Health

Another of the tremendous positive benefits of guavas is the presence of B3 and B6 vitamins. B3 (also known as niacin) can increase blood flow and stimulates cognitive function. B6 is a great nutrient for brain and nerve function. Therefore, eating guava can help you increase brain function and sharpen you focus.

Coughs and Colds

Juice of raw and immature guavas or a decoction of guava-leaves is very helpful in relieving coughs and colds by reducing mucus, disinfecting the respiratory tract, throat and lungs, and inhibiting microbial activity with its astringent properties. Guava has one of the highest quantities of vitamin C and iron among fruits, and both are proven to be preventive against colds and viral infections. In some areas of India, roasted ripe guava is used as a remedy against extreme cases of cough, cold, and congestion. Ripe guava should be avoided by people who are suffering from cough and cold, as it can exacerbate the problem, and one should also avoid drinking water immediately after eating guava as it can lead to a sore throat.

Skin care

Guavas can improve the texture of your skin and help you to avoid skin problems more than even the highest ranked beauty creams or skin toner gels. This is chiefly due to the abundance of astringents in the fruit (more astringent is present in immature guavas) and in its leaves. Your skin can benefit from either eating the fruits (this helps tighten your muscles apart from your skin) or by rinsing your skin with a decoction of its immature fruit and leaves. It will tone up and tighten the area of loosened skin where you apply it. In addition to the astringents, guava is very rich in vitamin A, B, C and potassium which are good antioxidants and detoxifiers, which keep your skin glowing and free from signs of premature aging, wrinkles and other dermal disorders.

High blood pressure

Guava helps reduce cholesterol in the blood and prevents it from thickening, thereby maintaining the fluidity of blood and reducing blood pressure. Studies have shown that food lacking fibre (such as refined flour) add to blood pressure, due to its quick conversion to sugar. Guava, being very rich in fibre and hypoglycemic in nature, helps reduce blood pressure.

Other benefits

There are so many health benefits of guava, it is hard to know where to begin. It is important to know that guava helps control diabetes and protects the prostate. The juice of guava leaves has been known to cure toothaches, swollen gums & oral ulcers, and the juice speeds up the healing process of wounds when applied externally. Finally, it reduces the frequency of convulsions, epilepsy, and bacterial infections.

As with many alternative foods and supplements, there is little risk in eating them in natural form, but you must do your due diligence when taking it in medical forms. Be cautious when adding any new medicinal form of guava into your diet, and it is better to stick to eating guava in its natural form as a raw fruit.

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