For many years I was confused about the guava fruit. My family always ate foods and sweets made from guayaba, which I always thought was a different fruit from guava. Come to find out that they are the same fruit. Guava is the American take on the name guayaba, which is the Spanish way to say it. However, they are the same fruit.
Part of my confusion is that there are different varieties of guava. Pictured above is the red fleshed variety. But like most fruits and vegetables, there are several varities with their own unique colors, shapes and characteristics. I had become accustomed to the red fleshed guava as it is used in many juice drinks. However, if you taste an actual fruit you will notice it's not as sweet as those juice bottles make us think. But it is a tasty fruit nonetheless.
My affection for this Central and South American fruit drove me to examine the health benefits of guava, and I was happy to find that there are many. The guava packs a punch when it comes to antioxidant power. When put through the ORAC test, a test for measuring the antioxidant power of a food, the guava scored in the top ten. And it beat out the elite strawberry, spinach and broccoli!
In a previous post I discussed the amazing benefits of lycopene found in tomatoes. Well, guess what? Guava is higher in lycopene than tomatoes, or any other fruit or vegetable for that matter. When measuring equivalent amounts of this fruit against tomatoes, the guava has 17% more lycopene. This is great news for cancer prevention. Lycopene has amazing antioxidant powers, helping the body dismantle damaging free-radicals. It even helps repair damaged cells.
Free-radicals are the body's enemies against true health. They can damage our DNA resulting in cancerous cells. They can cause damage and blockages in our arteries. Free radicals speed up the aging process, and contribute to joint and nervous system deterioration.
Fortunately, foods and fruits like guava can help one to prevent and even treat these conditions. Lycopene is known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells of the breat and the prostate. Including lots of fruits and vegetables in the diet is probably the most important thing we can do to improve our health status. 5-9 servings a day minimum can really turn your health around.
Unlike with the tomato, the lycopene in guava does not need to be released by cooking. The benefits can be gained from eating guava raw. The guava is also a good source of potassium, even more so than a banana. Potassium is good for the heart and is found in every cell of our body. Vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin A and beta carotene are also found abundantly in the guava fruit.
According to a study by the Heart Research Laboratory in India, people who eat five to nine guavas a day can see significant improvement in cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, HDL levels ("good" cholesterol) and lowered blood pressure. It would be most prudent to include this healthy fruit as a part of a whole foods, organic and seasonal diet. However, fruit consumption should be moderated, especially for those who are diabetic or have blood sugar issues. Unless you've chosen to eat a mostly or completely raw food diet, I don't recommend eating five to nine guavas a day! Key to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is the balancing of blood sugar. Too much fruit can disrupt this balance and cause weight gain and even mood and psychological issues.
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