Guava is a tropical fruit rich in nutrition. With its unique flavor, taste, and health-promoting qualities, the fruit easily fits in the new functional foods category, often called “super-fruits.”
It is an evergreen, tropical shrub or low-growing small tree probably originated in Middle Americas. Guavas actually thrive in both humid and dry climates and can tolerate brief periods of cold spells, but can survive only a few degrees of frost. Adaptability makes it a favorite commercial crop in some tropical areas.
Botanically, this wonderful fruit belongs within the family of Myrtaceae of the genus: Psidium. Scientific name:Psidium guajava.
During each season, the guava tree bears numerous round, ovoid or pear-shaped fruits that are about 5-10 cm long and weigh around 50–200 g. Different cultivars are grown all over the world which, vary widely in flavor, pulp color, and seediness.
The fruit is soft when ripe with sweet musky aroma and creamy in texture. Internally, the flesh varies in color depending up on the cultivar and may be white, pink, yellow, or red. Ripe fruits have rich flavor with sweet-tart taste. Each fruit contains numerous tiny, semi-hard edible seeds, concentrated especially at its center.
Health benefits of guava fruit
Guavas are low in calories and fats but contain several vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant poly-phenolic and flavonoid compounds that play a pivotal role in prevention of cancers, anti-aging, immune-booster, etc.
The fruit is very rich source of soluble dietary fiber (5.4 g per 100 g of fruit, about 14% of DRA), which makes it a good bulk laxative. The fiber content helps protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time to toxins as well as binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.
Guava-fruit is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin-C. 100 g fresh fruit provides 228 mg of this vitamin, more than three times the DRI (daily-recommended intake). Outer thick rind contains exceptionally higher levels of vitamin C than central pulp.
Scientific studies shown that regular consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge cancer causing harmful free radicals from the body. Further, the vitamin is required for collagen synthesis within the body. Collagen is the main structural protein in the human body required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones.
The fruit is a very good source of Vitamin-A, and flavonoids like beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and cryptoxanthin. The compounds are known to have antioxidant properties and are essential for optimum health. Further, vitamin-A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in carotene is known to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
100 g of pink guava fruit provides 5204 µg of lycopene, nearly twice the amount that in tomatoes. (100 g tomato contains 2573 µg of lycopene). Studies suggest that lycopene in pink guavas prevents skin damage from UV rays and offers protection from prostate cancer.
Fresh fruit is a very rich source of potassium. It contains more potassium than other fruits like banana weight per weight. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
Further, the fruit is also a moderate source of B-complex vitamins such as pantothenic acid, niacin, vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin E and K, as well as minerals like magnesium, copper, and manganese. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required for the production of red blood cells.
Selection and storage
In the tropical region, guavas are readily available year around. Red flesh variety such as "Thai maroon" flesh guavas are rich in nutrition than green apple guavas. Oftentimes the fruits are left to ripen off the tree to experience their natural flavor. They can also be picked while green but mature and later allowed to ripen at room temperature. Ripe guavas have a characteristic color and aroma.
In the store, 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 to ripen.
Mature, yet green fruits may be stored for two to five weeks under the regulated temperature between 46°F and 55°F, and relative humidity of 85 to 95 percent. Over ripen fruits can keep well in the refrigerator only for few days.
Preparation and serving methods
Wash them in cold running water in order to remove any dust or insecticide residues. Fresh ripe guava is best eaten as they are along with 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.Eat fresh fruit as it is to enjoy its natural flavor 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.
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