Cool Tropical Fruit
Half of the world loves nutritious guava. It just doesn't happen to be our half-yet.
You may not come across guava in your regular supermarket, but if you visit Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Mexico or Central America—or a Latin American or Asian market closer to home—you’ll likely spot this seeded tropical fruit. Both the exterior and the flesh can range from pink to white, depending on the variety, and the most common type is the apple guava (Psidium guajava). About the size of its namesake, this fruit is grown on the guava tree, which is in the myrtle family of plants—its relatives include clove, allspice and eucalyptus. And its taste falls somewhere in the pleasant zone between the strawberry and the pear.
Gobble a guava, and you can go right back to bed; you’ve had your vitamin C for the day—twice. (Eat your heart out, oranges!) Guava is also a good source of vitamin A, which helps with bone health and immunity, as well as folate, which can be beneficial for reproductive health. It’s rich in fiber, with 3 grams per fruit, contains protein (1 gram) and is relatively low in sugar (5 grams)—a trifecta that can help with weight loss. Furthermore, the pink variety is rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that may be helpful in preventing certain cancers.
Look for fruit that are slightly soft, with a little give when you press. Once ripe, guava bruises easily and spoils quickly, so plan accordingly when purchasing fruit, and refrigerate what you can’t eat within a day or two. If you purchase a young fruit (it may appear more green than yellow, but not necessarily, and should feel firmer to the touch), simply keep it in a brown bag with a banana or an apple to speed ripening. Guavas can be eaten raw, just like apples (both the skin and the seeds are edible). They can also be blended into juices, including a popular Hawaiian drink called POG (passionfruit, orange and guava). In Indian cuisine, they may be served in the form of a dessert dish called “guava cheese,” which involves cooking the pulp with sugar, pressing it and cutting it into bars. Need more ideas? A simple web search will pull up a range of guava recipes, from jellies and pastries to ice creams and cocktails.
Did you know?
Besides this fruit’s nutritional benefits, some healers believe its leaves have medicinal properties. In certain areas of the world they’re crushed and used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, tooth problems and even abrasions. In Japan, guava leaf tea is approved for use by patients with prediabetes and diabetes.