by Bree West
Guavas are fragrant and delicious tropical fruits that most Americans know about only because they are commonly used in jellies. These fruit usually have red flesh, but there is also a white-fleshed variety. Guavas aren't always easy to find in our traditional grocery stores, but they can usually be found in gourmet, Hispanic, or Indian grocery stores.
Guavas have amazing nutritional qualities, and research shows that guava might actually be one of the top antioxidant-containing fruits. On the Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity test, commonly used for determining and ranking a food's antioxidant capabilities, guavas were ranked higher than strawberries, spinach, and broccoli! While both the red and white fleshed varieties were in the top ten fruits on the ORAC list, the red fleshed variety had a higher antioxidant score due to the carotenoid lycopene.
Guava has higher amounts of lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable, even more than tomatoes. This is significant because provides more protection against free radicals than any other member of the entire carotenoid family, including the well-researched beta-carotene! Free radicals cause damage that leads to things such as aging, macular degeneration, cardiovascular disease, joint deterioration, and cancer. Once lycopene is absorbed in the body, it helps prevent damage to and repair cells.
In fact, research shows that lycopene is particularly helpful for decreasing prostate cancer. This is very important because prostate cancer is the second leading killer cancer among men in the United States. Lycopene helps to both prevent and treat existing prostate cancer. Lycopene is also beneficial for women, as it also helps to decrease or stop the growth of breast cancer cells, the leading killer cancer among U.S. women.
Finally, studies show that high amounts of lycopene in the diet is linked with a decreased risk for heart disease, the number one cause of death in America today. While there is controversy over whether more lycopene is absorbed from cooked tomatoes over raw, the same is not true for guavas. Guavas are best eaten raw, but may also be cooked.
Guavas are also a great source of potassium—one cup of guava provides about 688mg of potassium, which is 63 percent more than a banana! Research proves that people who eat a high amount of potassium from food have lower incidents of heart disease and stroke. Most Americans get an excessive amount of sodium and lack sufficient potassium. The right ratio of sodium to potassium is important, as too much sodium and not enough potassium causes water retention, high blood pressure, and so forth. Potassium, therefore, is necessary for maintaining a healthy blood pressure and helping to prevent stroke.
Guavas are also high in vitamin C; one cup has about 376mg! Vitamin C keeps the immune system strong and is also a good antioxidant vitamin. Guavas are also a great source of fiber; one cup has about nine grams of fiber, which is more than you get in an apple, apricot, banana, and nectarine combined! This makes guava a top fiber food. High fiber diets have been linked to lower rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Guavas also contain folate, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, and beta carotene.Get the directions for a Guava-Ginger Smoothie at IncredibleSmoothies.com