What are guavas?
Guava is a popular tree of the tropics. It's widely grown for its tasty and nutritious fruit, which is technically classified as a berry. Guavas are low in fats but high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. While there are various health benefits of guava, the most well-known is its ability to lower blood sugar levels. This is why guava leaf extract has been used for ages as a traditional medicine for diabetes. Moreover, there are no major risks associated with guavas, which makes them a safe and healthy choice to add to your diet.
Guava is a small tropical tree native to Mexico and Central America. You can find it in most tropical and subtropical countries around the world.
While there are many varieties of guavas, the one that people grow and eat the most is “common guava.” The scientific name of this variety is Psidium guajava. It belongs to the Myrtaceae family, which is also known as the myrtle family.
Since guavas are grown in various countries, they have been given different local names by the people in those regions. Some of those names include:
- Guayaba (Spanish)
- Goeajaaba (Dutch)
- Gouyave (French)
- Goiaba (Portuguese)
- Farang (Thai)
- Amarood (Indians)
Guava fruits can be round or oval in shape. Their skin color ranges from red or yellow to light green. Both their inner pulp and their seeds can be eaten.
The tastes of their pulp can vary, from sweet and juicy to sour and tart. While guavas are mostly eaten raw, they can also be made into jams, beverages, and pastes.
Different parts of the plant — like the leaf, seed, and fruit pulp — can be used for medicinal purposes. You can buy supplements containing guava leaf extracts from the market. To try a more natural route, you can also steep the guava leaves in boiling water and make a soothing cup of tea with them.
What are the nutrients in guavas?
Guavas are highly nutritious fruits. As per the United States Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of raw guava fruit contain:
- 68 calories
- 0.95 g fat
- 2.55 g protein
- 8.92 g sugars
- 14.3 g carbohydrates
- 5.4 g total dietary fiber
Guavas are low in fat but rich in fiber and proteins, which makes them a great choice to add to your diet. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, containing 5 times more vitamin C than oranges. Other vitamins, like vitamin A, vitamin B9 (folate), and vitamin K, are also present.
Guavas contain high amounts of potassium and magnesium. Other minerals like phosphorus, zinc, iron, and calcium are also present in smaller amounts.
Guavas are also considered a major source of antioxidants. The chemicals in guava that are responsible for such antioxidant properties include polyphenols, carotenoids, flavonoids, and ascorbic acid (the precursor of vitamin C).
What are the health benefits of guavas?
As a rich source of vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fiber, these nutritious fruits improve your health in various ways.
These are some of the main benefits of guavas:
Control blood sugar levels. Guavas have long been known for their positive effects on blood sugar levels. Several animal studies have found guava leaf tea helpful in controlling blood sugar and improving resistance to insulin.
Some human-based studies also suggest that drinking guava leaf tea after meals can lower blood sugar levels significantly in patients with type 2 diabetes. Experts believe that there are certain chemicals in guava leaves that can help to regulate glucose absorption. This is what gives them their anti-diabetic abilities.
Relieve menstrual pain. Supplements containing guava leaf extract have been found more effective than painkillers like ibuprofen when reducing menstrual cramps.
Studies show that taking guava leaf extract daily can lower the intensity of menstrual pain in women with dysmenorrhea — the medical term for painful menstrual periods. Even women experiencing uterine cramps can benefit from guava leaf supplements.
Help with digestive disorders. Guava contains large amounts of dietary fiber, which can help to soften up stool and improve bowel movements. You can also benefit from eating guava seeds. These are known to be excellent laxatives and can be of great help, especially for treating digestive issues like constipation.
Moreover, research has proven guava leaf extracts to be highly effective for treating infectious diarrhea. The leaves of guava contain various antimicrobial elements, which can help to get rid of the diarrhea-causing microbes in your gut.
May reduce cancer risk. While robust human-based studies are limited, a lot of test-tube and animal studies suggest that guava leaf extracts have the potential to treat cancer. Scientists have found chemicals in guava leaves that act as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). These are a type of drug that can stop tumor cells from multiplying, which is why they’re often used in cancer treatment.
The high levels of antioxidants present in guava leaves also give them anticancer properties. They are known to protect cells from free radical damage and oxidative stress, which are some of the major factors behind cancer.
Boost the immune system. Guavas can help to improve your immune system in many ways. This nutritious fruit is rich in vitamin C, which is known for its ability to kill disease-causing microbes and boost immunity.
Besides the fruit, the leaves can help to make your immune system stronger. Studies show that guava leaves have strong antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Regularly taking their extract — for instance, in the form of tea — can help to prevent conditions like cough, flu, oral ulcers, inflamed gums, and infectious diarrhea.
Reduces the risk of heart disease. Guava leaves are rich in vitamins and antioxidants that can protect your heart cells from free radical damage. Moreover, they contain various minerals like sodium and potassium. These minerals are known for their ability to control high blood pressure in people with hypertension.
Scientists have also found various benefits of the guava fruit for your heart. It has been seen that eating ripe guava before meals can boost the levels of good cholesterol, lower the levels of total cholesterol, and decrease blood pressure. All of these together could reduce your risk of heart disorders, thereby improving your heart health.
What are the side effects of guava?
There are no serious side effects of guava fruits and leaves for those who take it in moderate amounts. However, eating too much can lead to digestive issues like constipation. Though the chances are low, studies show that it's also possible to develop an allergy to some of the chemicals in guava.
Apart from the fruit, the chemicals used to store it could also pose some health risks for you. These chemicals have the potential to cause different types of infections. This is why you should thoroughly wash guavas before eating them.
Who should not eat guavas?
Studies have shown guava to be a nutritious fruit that can be safely eaten by most healthy adults. However, there are certain groups of people who should be careful about adding guavas or their products to their diet. These include:
Pregnant and breastfeeding women. While guavas are mostly considered safe, the same can’t be said for the supplements containing guava leaf extract. Since these are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), expecting and breastfeeding mothers should first talk to their doctor before taking them.
People with skin conditions. The chemicals in guava fruit and leaf can irritate the skin in some cases. This occurs mostly in people who already have some skin condition like eczema, so those with skin disorders should be careful or completely avoid eating guavas, as it can worsen their condition.
Pre-diabetic or diabetic patients. Since guava leaves have the ability to decrease blood sugar, they can add to the effect of prescribed diabetes medications. Those with pre-diabetes or diabetes should be careful about taking their leaf extract, as it can cause their blood sugar levels to fall below the healthy range.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
The American Journal of Cardiology: "Effects of guava intake on serum total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and on systemic blood pressure."
Current Medicinal Chemistry: "In vitro, in vivo and in silico analysis of the anticancer and estrogen-like activity of guava leaf extracts."
Defeat Diabetes Foundation: "Guava."
Développement durable: "A review of Guava (Psidium guajava)."
International Journal of Biological Macromolecules: "Protective effects of polysaccharides from Psidium guajava leaves against oxidative stresses."
International Journal of Molecular Sciences: "Health Effects of Psidium guajava L. Leaves: An Overview of the Last Decade."
ISRN Hepatology: "Protective Effects of Guava Pulp on Cholestatic Liver Injury."
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: "Guava fruit (Psidium guajava L.) as a new source of antioxidant dietary fiber."
Journal of Ethnopharmacology: "Antidiabetic effects of extracts from Psidium guajava," "Effect of a Psidii guajavae folium extract in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized clinical trial," "Psidium guajava: a review of its traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology."
Nutrition & Metabolism: "Anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hyperlipidemic effects of guava leaf extract."
Pharmacognosy Magazine: "Phytochemical investigation and antimicrobial activity of Psidium guajava L. leaves."
Red Tent Health Centre: "THE ECZEMA DIET."
Toxicology Research: "A short review on a Nutritional Fruit: Guava."
U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central: "Guavas, common, raw."
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