Monday, June 11, 2012

Tropical Fruit: Guava, The Poor Man's Apple

Guavas grown in the backyard
Guava is a popular tropical fruit that boasts the nutritional ability to reduce and improve serum lipid levels. Guavas come in small, medium and large sizes. They have a cream, yellowish or pinkish internal colour; they have a delicate  texture (over-ripe guavas are somewhat slimey) and are mildly sweet. Guavas have a pungent but fragrant aroma when semi-ripe and over-ripe. They tend to be in season roughly two times per year - January to June and or September to November. (Morton, J. 1987)

How one chooses to enjoy this fruit varies; some prefer to eat the fruit along with its seeds, others prefer to eat the flesh omitting the seeds. The juice of the fruit could be extracted and consumed as is or used to make guava ice-cream/jams/jellies/syrup etc. The guava pulp could be used to make guava paste or guava cheese (thick, brownish sweet paste/jelly). 

Guava halved
The leaves and bark of the guava tree are used in alternative medicine (herbal remedies) to treat hypertension, high cholesterol, selected digestive disorders- intestinal worms, diarrhoea & dysentery and assist in curbing nicotine addiction. According to Dr George Pamplona-Roger, persons wishing to kick their smoking habit should try consuming at least 2 raw guavas daily as a snack or dessert. This should provide more than enough vitamin C to assist in neutralising any nicotine molecules within the blood stream (Roger, George 2004). Research done by Haibach, Homish and Giovino shows smokers with higher fruit and vegetable consumption smoked fewer cigarettes per day. In addition, guava leaves when drunk as a tea  can have an invigorating effect on the body and thus is used to combat physical fatigue (Roger, George 2004).
 Data sourced from: The Nutrient Data Laboratory, USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24 last June10th 2012
All values and weight are for 100 grams of  the edible portion of fruit
* Honeydew melon: 3/4 cup, diced equals about 13 pieces  and  * Cantaloupe melon: 1/8 wedge of large melon 
Based on Table 1. Above, guavas are unbelievably high in vitamin C (228 mg per 100 g, amounts to 380% Daily Value), antioxidant lycopene (5,204 mcg per 100g) and fibre in comparison with other fruits; particularly imported fruits. Using Table 1. One can see the nutritional benefits of adding fresh guavas to the daily diet when in season. Guavas are also a good source of potassium, copper, folate, vitamin A especially beta carotene and it is naturally low in sodium (about 1 mg per 100 g) (Refer to Table 1. above). The latter makes it a great snack for persons on low sodium diets. [Note: Guavas with the pink flesh generally have more lycopene than the off-white guavas. Over ripe guavas contain less vitamin C and fibre.] 

However, some may vomit or experience slight nausea after eating a semi-ripe or very ripe guava on an empty stomach. Caution: The seeds of the guava can cause mild constipation, so beware of how much and how often the seeds are consumed. It's best to chew the seeds very well before swallowing. 

In all fairness, guavas are exceptional fruits that provide more nutritional value than most imported fruits; apple or pear, thus giving everyone a reason to actively seek out the fruit when in season.

Abbreviations used in Table 1. 
 Ca= calcium, K = Potassium, P = Phosphorus, Mg= Magnesium, Fe= Iron, Vit C = Vitamin C, Vit K = Vitamin K , Vit A = Vitamin A, RAE = Retinol Activity Equivalents  (mcg RAE),   mcg = micrograms, mg = milligrams

Thank you for reading! 
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1) Roger, George. 2004. The Healing Power of Foods.  p:118-119 
3) Dweck, Anthony.  A Review of Guava.
4) Morton, J. 1987. Guava. p. 356–363. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL
5) Jeffrey, Haibach, et al. 2012. A Longitudinal Evaluation of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Cigarette Smoking. Nicotine & Tobacco Research,

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