Guava scientifically known as Psidium guajava is one of the nutritious tropical fruit rich in high-profile nutrients. Botanically, this wonderful fruit belongs within the family of Myrtaceae, in the genus: Psidium. Exact origin of guava is unknown. Researchers believe that it originates from Central America and Mexico. If pineapple is known as the “king” of fruits, guava is considered the queen. With its unique flavor, taste, and health-promoting qualities, the fruit easily fits into the category of new functional foods, often labeled as “super-fruits.”
Different cultivar types of guava grown all over the world which may vary widely in flavor, pulp color, and seed composition.
Guava is an evergreen, tropical shrub or low-growing small tree, 8–10 m high with smooth grayish brown bark that peels off in strips, spreading branches and quadrangular, pubescent branchlets. Guava plant normally grows in areas with a tropical or equatorial climate. It also grows well in the warm, sub-arid, savannah areas as it is quite drought tolerant but adequate irrigation is necessary for good growth and high yields. It can tolerate many soil conditions, but will produce better in rich soils high in organic matter. They also prefer a well-drained soil. The tree will take temporary waterlogging but will not tolerate salty soils.
Leaves are opposite, ovate-elliptic or oblong elliptic, acute-acuminate, pubescent beneath, rough adaxially, prominent midrib impressed, lateral nerves 10–20 pairs; blades mostly 7–15 cm long and 3–5 cm wide, rounded at base, apex acute to obtuse, dull green.
Flowers are usually fragrant, white, large, 2.5 cm across, solitary or 2 or 3 in axillary cymes. Peduncle 1–2 cm long, pubescent. calyx 4–5-lobed, 6–8 mm long, persistent on fruit; petals white, 10–15 mm long, fugacious, usually 4 or 5, obovate, slightly concave; stamens numerous (200–250), white, about as long as petals with pale yellowish anthers; style 10–12 mm long, stigma peltate.
Guava fruits may be round, ovoid or pear-shaped, 3–10 cm long and weighs around 50–200 g, and have 4 or 5 protruding floral remnants (sepals) at the apex. The fruit is green while young turning to whitish yellow or faintly pink when ripe. Varieties differ widely in flavor and seediness. The better varieties are soft when ripe, creamy in texture with a rind that softens to be fully edible. The flesh may be white, pink, yellow, or red depending on the cultivar. The strong, sweet, musky odor is pungent and penetrating with sweet tart taste. Fruit consists of numerous tiny, yellowish, reniform, semi-hard edible seeds, concentrated especially at its center. Some varieties are seedless. Actual seed counts have ranged from 112 to 535. The quality of the fruit of guavas grown in cooler areas is often disappointing.
There is a completely maroon-colored cultivar with maroon branchlets and leaves, crimson flower with crimson stamens and maroon fruit with maroon-colored flesh. Guava starts to produce fruit 2 to 8 years after planting. Fruit has strong, lemon-like musky odor. Rind can be bitter or sweet, while flesh has creamy texture and sweet-tart taste. Under the optimal climate conditions, guava produces fruit two times per year. Guava is perennial plant that usually lives around 40 years.
History of Guava
Guavas are native to Mexico, Central America and the north of South America. Historians show that these fruits were originally cultivated in tropical America, possibly Brazil, but were improved in the West Indies. At the start of the 16th century, the Portuguese introduced guavas all around the Pacific, till it reached the Philippines. A few years later, the Spanish brought this delicious fruit to India. Early Spanish travellers, in the 1500s, discovered the Strawberry Guava as a tree native to America. Records prove that Seminole Indians grew this fruit widely in Northern Florida around 1816. Progressively, it became popular and spread to other parts of the world. Since 1950, guavas have become a major subject of research in order to decipher the chemical identity of its constituents, pharmacological properties and its history in folk medicine. The fruit is now commercially cultivated in Southeast Asia, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Florida and Africa.
Health benefits of Guavas
Guava fruit is a wonderful method of obtaining vitamin C and is also a pleasant exotic option to the orange or even grapefruit. Try out developing a fruit salad making use of this amazing fruit or even make use of a juice machine to create refreshing guava juice. Guava fruit is provided in certain standard food markets as well as the juice are available in several natural super markets.
Guavas really are a treasure-trove of nutrition. It is referred as one of many “Super foods” as it is loaded with huge amount of anti-oxidants. Also, they are recognized for their higher pectin content. Listed below are some of the popular health benefits of consuming guava:
1. Weight loss
Guava is quite helpful for those who want to lose weight without compromising their intake of proteins, vitamins and fiber. Guava is good source of roughage and rich in vitamins, proteins and minerals, but it has no cholesterol and a low number of digestible carbohydrates. It is a very filling snack and satisfies the appetite very easily. Guava, particularly raw guava has far less sugar as compared to apples, oranges, grapes, and other fruit. Including a medium-sized guava to your lunch and you will not feel hungry again until the evening. Ironically, it can also help with weight gain in lean, thin people. This is perhaps due to its wealth of nutrients, which keep the metabolism regulates and helps to promote the proper absorption of nutrients.
Guava is an excellent source of Vitamin C. It contains 337 mg of Vitamin C which is equal to 628% of RDA required in the daily diet. A guava a day can restore the loss of this vitamin completely.
Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant and help to increase immune system function of our body. It is known to develop resistance in the body against common diseases like a cough, cold and flu.
Vitamin C as an antioxidant contributes in maintaining a good skin health by cleaning the body off the free radicals and other impurities thus delaying skin ageing. It also plays a significant role in growth and repair of body tissues. In studies, it was found to quicken healing of scars and wounds.
3. Eye & Skin Health
Vitamin A is one of the powerful antioxidant and is recommended for improving eye health. It acts as a barrier between the vulnerable eye parts and the potential bacterial and viral infections.
Apart from that it has been found to be effective in avoiding retinal damage caused due to free radicals by removing them from our system regularly. Therefore, it improves eye vision and protect from cataract.
Another common eye condition macular degeneration is efficiently undertaken by Beta Carotene in combination with other anti-oxidants in Guava.
4. Beats Toothache
Guava leaves have a powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ability which fights infection and kills germs. Therefore, consuming guava leaves works as a wonderful home remedy for toothache. The juice of guava leaves has also been known to cure toothaches, swollen gums and oral ulcers.
5. Thyroid Health
Guava is a good source for copper, which is an important part of regulating thyroid metabolism by helping to control hormone production and absorption. The thyroid gland is one of the most important glands in the body for regulating hormones and organ system function, so guava can help balance your health in many ways.
Guavas are extremely good sources of vitamin A, which is well known as a booster for vision health. It helps to slow down the appearance of cataracts, macular degeneration, and general health of the eyes. It cannot only prevent degradation of eyesight, but even an improvement in eyesight once it has begun to degrade.
7. Cancer Prevention
Frequent consumption of guava is quite beneficial to inhibit the growth and metastasis of cancerous cells. Guava leaf oil is extremely successful as an anti-proliferative substance, and has shown to be more effective compared to leading modern medicines in reducing cancerous growth. Similarly guavas are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to be wildly successful in decreasing prostate cancer risk. That same antioxidant has also shown to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, although further human trials need to be done.
Apart from that higher level of vitamin C in guavas, provides the immune system a huge boost in antioxidants. Antioxidants are actually the major lines of defense against the proliferation of free radicals in the body, which are one of the main causes of serious conditions like cancer and heart disease. Therefore, adding guava to your diet has numerous ways in which it helps you stay health and cancer-free.
8. Diarrhea & dysentery
Guava is very rich in astringents (compounds that make your gums feel tighter and fresher). When you chew guava leaves, eat a raw guava, or use some guava-based toothpaste, your mouth feels healthier, and the astringent qualities also add substance to loose bowels as well as reduce symptoms of diarrhea. These astringents are alkaline in nature and have disinfectant and anti-bacterial properties, therefore helping to cure dysentery by inhibiting microbial growth and eliminating extra mucus from the intestines. Additionally, other nutrients in guava such as vitamin C, Carotenoids and potassium, strengthen and tone the digestive system while simultaneously disinfecting it. Guava is also beneficial in treating gastroenteritis for the same reasons stated above.
9. Controls Diabetes
Several researches have concluded that fiber rich guava consumption help to reduce the absorption of sugar in the body. Guava consists of good amount of dietary fiber that is known to decrease the chances of Type II diabetes considerably. Frequent consumption of fiber rich food also reduces sugar spikes in a diabetes patient.
Apart from that guava has lower glycemic index which makes it an effective fruit against the excessive sugar absorption in the body. Similarly high amount of Vitamin C ensures that there is regular and effective flushing out from the body that helps in effective diabetes management.
10. High blood pressure
Guava helps to reduce cholesterol in the blood and prevents it from thickening, thus maintaining the fluidity of blood and decreasing blood pressure. Research has shown that food lacking fiber (such as refined flour) add to blood pressure, due to its quick conversion to sugar. Guava, being very rich in fiber and hypoglycemic in nature, helps reduce blood pressure.
Guava is one of the best sources of dietary fiber in terms of fruit. Its seeds, when ingested whole or chewed, serve as outstanding laxatives. These two properties of guava help the formation of healthy bowel movements, and aid the body in retaining water and systematically cleaning your intestines and excretory system. It is said that constipation alone can result in 72 different types of ailments, so any help with constipation is beneficial. Your total health is undeniably affected by proper digestion, and more importantly, proper excretion. Frequent consumption of guava can ensure both.
12. Brain Health
Guavas consist of good amount of vitamin B3 and vitamin B6. B3 (also known as niacin) help to increase blood flow and encourages cognitive function. B6 is a great nutrient for brain and nerve function. Therefore, frequent consumption of guava can help you increase brain function and sharpen you focus.
13. Cough & cold
Juice of raw and immature guavas or a decoction of its leaves is quite beneficial for relieving coughs and colds by reducing mucus, disinfecting the respiratory tract, throat and lungs, and inhibiting microbial activity with its astringent properties. Guava has one of the highest quantities of vitamin C and iron among fruits, and both are proven to be preventive against colds and viral infections. In certain areas of India, roasted ripe guava is normally used as a remedy against extreme cases of cough, cold, and congestion. Ripe guava should be avoided by people who are suffering from cough and cold, as it can worsen the problem, and one should also avoid drinking water immediately after eating guava as it can lead to a sore throat.
Guava can surpass many other fruits, including orange and other citrus fruits, in terms of its concentration of vitamin C. Deficiency of vitamin-C can cause scurvy, and proper consumption of vitamin C rich food is the only known cure for that dangerous disease. Guavas consist of 5X more vitamin C than oranges, which are often heralded as the absolute best source of that beneficial vitamin.
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