The Mighty Guava – Once a “Forbidden Fruit,” Now a Highly Versatile SuperFruit

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The guava was once considered a forbidden fruit in Philippines mythology. Nobody dared eat this inedible fruit until a fateful day with a boy that enjoyed providing fruit to the needy. One day, he wanted to help a beggar, but all he had left was a guava tree and its inedible fruit. So he made a wish to the forest gods, and they responded to his kindness by granting the fruit a new deliciousness and nutritiousness.
The guava is the fruit of Psidium guajava - a plant species that is native to Mexico, Central America and South America. It is a highly popular fruit that is now cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical climates all over the world.
Guava fruits tend to have an oval shape akin to that of lemons. They are roughly the same size too – between 2 and 4.5 inches long. The fruit usually has a thick outer skin which is edible. It can be rough or smooth in texture while being soft or hard. This is all dependent on the species. Some guavas possess an outer skin which is often bitter and sometimes astringent (if fruit is raw). In other cases, when the fruit is ripe, the outer skin tends to be much sweeter.
The fruit itself has a pleasantly sweet and sour flavour that is reminiscent of strawberries. The pulp of the fruit can be pink or off white (like a banana). Also, guava pulp is a mixture of flesh and seed and is usually eaten whole. That being said, what makes the guava a super-fruit? Flavour and exoticness just don’t cut it!
Let’s take a closer look.

Guava Nutrition

 

Dietary Fiber - Thanks to seeds and the outer skin, as well as pectin in the fruit itself, guavas are very high in dietary fiber. Fiber is extremely important for maintaining good intestinal health and regular bowel movements.Vitamin C – Furthermore, guavas have particularly high vitamin C content with a single portion of fruit (1 guava) containing up to 628% of your daily recommended allowance. That’s over 7 TIMES the amount of Vitamin C you’d get from an orange.
Carotenoids – Guavas are also rich in carotenoids – compounds which have been shown to promote eye health and also prevent oxidation. Oxidation is damage to the body that occurs due to exposure from sources of blue and ultra violet light. It can potentially damage DNA in cells and cause them to mutate and become cancerous. It can also cause damage to sensitive organs like the eyes and trigger degenerative conditions.
B Vitamins- Present in the guava are B complex vitamins known as riboflavin. Riboflavin or B2 vitamin is a micronutrient that is easily absorbed by the body and is essential for maintaining health in humans. Deficiency of riboflavin results in dry skin, crack at the corners of the mouth, sore throat and even sensitivity to bright lights.Potassium - While bananas are well known for their high levels of potassium, Guavas are actually not too far behind. One guava has about 20% of the RDA for potassium.

Health Benefits of Guava

The health benefits of the guava are many. It’s clear that this is a potent super fruit that brings numerous health benefits to any individual who chooses to eat it.Heart Disease - A 1992 study on 120 men found a significant decrease in blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglycerides, while there was a net increase in HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind).1 A Brazilian study in 2003 on guinea pigs found that guava might prove useful for treating irregular heart beats, also known as arrhythmia.2  


Digestive Problems - Multiple clinical studies have found that guava is an effective treatment for diarrhea and gastroenteritis.3, 4, 5, 6  A Chinese study in 2000 found that it was effective in treating virally-caused enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine) in infants.Anti-Fungal, Anti-Yeast, Anti-Microbial – Both the fruit and the leaf extract of this fruit have exhibited potency against fungii, yeasts such as Candida, and other microbes including malaria.8, 9, 10

Regulate Blood Sugar, Improve Diabetes – Chinese folklore has long held that guava is an effective treatment for diabetes mellitus. Research that examined this claim found that it did indeed improve blood sugar levels.11, 12 

The one thing that stands out about the guava when compared to other fruits is just how flexible it is. The fruit has a wide range of culinary uses in a wide range of cultures. Guavas have been used to make alcoholic beverages, sauces, dried snacks, sweets, jellies, jams and of course, the massively popular guava juice. This is a fruit that is extremely popular, widely available and incredibly potent. Get yourself some guavas now!

References

  1. Singh, R. B., et al. “Effects of guava intake on serum total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and on systemic blood pressure.” Am. J. Cardiol. 1992; 70(15): 1287-91.
  2. Conde Garcia, E. A., et al. “Inotropic effects of extracts of Psidium guajava L. (guava) leaves on the guinea pig atrium.” Braz. J. of Med. & Biol. Res. 2003; 36: 661-668.
  3. Almeida, C. E., et al. “Analysis of antidiarrhoeic effect of plants used in popular medicine.” Rev. Saude Publica. 1995; 29(6): 428-33.
  4. Lin, J., et al. “Anti-diarrhoeal evaluation of some medicinal plants used by Zulu traditional healers.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2002; 79(1): 53-6.
  5. Caceres, A., et al. “Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. 1. Screening of 84 plants against enterobacteria.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1990; 30(1): 55-73.
  6. Lozoya, X., et al. “Intestinal anti-spasmodic effect of a phytodrug of Psidium guajava folia in the treatment of acute diarrheic disease.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2002; 83(1-2): 19-24.
  7. Wei, L., et al. “Clinical study on treatment of infantile rotaviral enteritis with Psidium guajava L.” Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 2000; 20(12): 893-5.
  8. Karsha, P.V., et al. “Antimicrobial activity of leaf extracts of guava (Psidium guajava) and papaya (Carica papaya).” Advances in Plant Sciences, v. 22(2): p. 429-431, 2009 (Eng; 15 ref).
  9. Nundkumar, N., et al. “Studies on the antiplasmodial properties of some South African medicinal plants used as antimalarial remedies in Zulu folk medicine.” Methods Find Exp. Clin. Pharmacol. 2002; 24(7): 397-401.
  10. Garcia, S., et al, “Inhibition of growth, enterotoxin production, and spore formation of Clostridium perfringens by extracts of medicinal plants.” J. Food Prot. 2002; 65(10): 1667-9.
  11. Cheng, J. T., et al. “Hypoglycemic effect of guava juice in mice and human subjects.” Am. J. Clin. Med. 1983; 11(1-4): 74-6.
  12. Roman-Ramos, R., et al. “Anti-hyperglycemic effect of some edible plants.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1995.
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