As a Certified Nutritionist, I feel compelled to counteract Donut Friday with healthy offerings for my office colleagues. I’ve attempted to expand their horizons with jackfruit and persimmons before. But when I cut up some ripe guavas, the tropical fruit disappeared in record time.
Guava is native to Mexico and Central America, but is now commonly grown throughout Asia as well as in the U.S., where it was first introduced in Florida. There are several varieties of guavas, which range in size from about 1-1/2 to 5 inches and may be round or oval.
Unripe guavas are green, but as they ripen and acquire their special fragrance, they turn to yellow, green, or maroon. White guavas have off-white centers, while pink guavas have a green-yellow skin color and a pink interior. Many guava lovers eat the whole fruit, including skin and seeds. Guavas have a distinctive taste that has been described by some as a refreshing combination of apple and passion fruit. Other guava aficionados identify the flavor as reminiscent of strawberries.
Guavas are packed with heart-protective antioxidants and are very low in calories and fat. A one-cup serving of guava has fewer than 120 calories, about 24 grams of carbs and a whopping dose of vitamin C. Just one cup of guava supplies more than 600% of your daily vitamin C needs — twice that of an orange. They’re also good sources of fiber, vitamin A, folate and potassium.
Guava Health Benefits
1. Guavas stabilize blood sugar.
Two clinical trials have found that drinking guava leaf tea can stabilize blood sugar. In the first clinical trial, pre-diabetics who drank guava leaf tea with every meal for 12 weeks found that the tea lowered blood sugar levels for up to two hours after each meal.
In the second trial, type 2 diabetics who drank guava tea for 8 weeks showed that it reduced blood sugar levels after a meal by more than 10%.
And don’t be deterred by the fruit’s relatively high glycemic index rating. Glycemic load, which considers realistic serving sizes, is a more accurate measure of whether a food will increase blood sugar levels rapidly. On that scale, guavas rank very low, making them a diabetic-friendly fruit.
2. Guavas contribute to heart health.
A 12-week long study of 120 patients with high blood pressure revealed that those who consumed guava fruit before meals showed significant decreases in blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Total serum cholesterol levels also decreased by 9.9%, while HDL (good) cholesterol levels increased by 8%.
Another clinical trial with hypertensive patients who ate guavas showed similar heart benefits, which are thought to be attributed to the soluble fiber and potassium content of the fruit.
3. Guavas benefit the digestive system.
Eating guavas promotes bowel health and relieves constipation. Guava leaf extract also has antimicrobial properties, which helps control harmful gut microbes.
4. Guavas strengthen our immune systems.
The megadose of vitamin C in guavas strengthens our immune systems which become less robust with age. Vitamin C also helps reduce the duration of common cold symptoms, and plays an important role as an antioxidant.
How to Eat Guava
Guavas are delicious eaten raw. Select a soft, fragrant one and wash it thoroughly since the rind is edible. Then slice the fruit in half and either eat it as is or scoop out the seeds. If you want to spice it up, add soy sauce, salt and pepper, cayenne, or curry powder.
Since guavas are high in pectin, a natural thickener, the fruit is often used to make jams, sauces, and relishes. Guava jelly, like the one made by Goya, is available in some specialty stores. You can also make guava jelly at home in a little more than an hour using this recipe from Genius Kitchen. This unique fruit also shines in desserts including ice creams, puddings, pies, and cakes.
Guava juice is widely available and can be added to cocktails such as this Pink Guava Mimosa and smoothies like this Strawberry & Guava blend. Guava paste can also be used to make tasty barbeque glazes for your favorite meat or to brush on grilled shrimp.