Guava

The guava, with its strong, rich aroma, is a large berry with diameter around 2 to 15 centimetres, and weighs ranging from 10 grams to 1 kilogram. With a skin that is usually pale yellow or yellowish-green when ripe, the sandy textured flesh can be either creamy-white or salmon-pink depending upon the variety. The fruit may be almost seedless or packed with numerous tiny, hard seeds which are edible. The taste of the flesh is sweetish-sour.

Origin & History

Guava is a multipurpose tropical fruit with a Spanish name, probably from its native Latin American source. Originating in tropical Americas (probably Brazil), this resilient and easily cultivated tree is now found throughout the tropical world, where it goes under a multitude of different names. It was probably spread eastwards by the Portuguese who planted it in their colonies in South-east Asia, including Malaysia and India, as one of its Malay names, jambu portugis, suggests.

Uses & Properties

Beside usually eaten fresh and raw, guava is also juiced to make a delicious beverage. Its high pectin content makes it a useful setting agent for jams and jellies. In the tropics, the guava plays the kind of role in pies and pastries that apples do in temperate climates, and lends its flavour easily to ice creams and iced drinks and used in salads and vegetable dishes. The delicious sweet-sour taste of the fresh fruit may be complemented with a little sugar or rum.

In India, guava leaves are used to treat wounds and also as an antidote to toothache. The Filipinos make a decoction from its leaves and roots to apply to swollen gums, and the fruit is also recommended for acute throat inflammation. Cooked to a thick paste, it is effective in healing boils, sores, ulcers and open wounds. In traditional medicine, the roots, bark, leaves and immature fruits are used as a treatment of diarrhoea and diabetes.

The bark is used for silk dyes and for tanning, and the wood itself makes excellent firewood.

Nutritional Value

Guavas are the highest in nutrients when fresh and ripe. As a food source, the guava is particularly gifted, being rich in Vitamin C which is concentrated in the skin and outer layers of the fruit. One average fruit can provide as much as 150 mg vitamin C! It also has a high content of Vitamin A, iron, potassium and calcium. It is low in sodium and calories.

What also makes guavas so special is a carotenoid called lycopene, one of the strongest antioxidants. When it comes to dietary fibre, guava is truly a superstar, containing about 9 grams per cup. That’s more fibre than you’d get in an apple, apricot, banana and nectarine combined. This has drawn the attention of heart researchers, since getting more fiber in the diet is one of the best way to lower cholesterol, boost immunity and protect the heart.

Useful Tips

Store them carefully – tropical fruits, such as guavas, that are exposed to air and sunlight will quickly give up their vitamin C. Keeping the fruits in a cool, dark place will help keep them fresh while preserving this vital nutrient.

Sources:

  • Selene Yeager. The Doctors Book of Food Remedies. New York: Rodale Inc., 2007.
  • Dr Michael Sharon. Nutrients A-Z – A User Guide to Foods, Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements. Great Britain: Prion Books Ltd, 1998.
  • Ben-Erik van Wyk. Food Plants of the World – An Illustrated Guide. North America and the United Kingdom: Timber Press, Inc., 2005.
 
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