Health Benefits Of Guava Fruit And Leaves
The guava is a much-loved fruit in India. But are you aware that it has many medicinal uses? We explore in detail the nutritional value of guava, and the health benefits of guava leaves and fruit.
By V Saravana Kumar
Who doesn’t love guavas? Known as amrood in Hindi, this delicious fruit with a deep pink or whitish pulpy interior is very popular. Although inexpensive, when it comes to the health benefits of guava, it is second only to the nutritional value of apple and pomegranates, and even better in some respects. This was confirmed in a study by Reddy et al. According to the study, the antioxidant content in guava is 496mg per 100g, while it is 330mg in plum, 135mg in pomegranate, 123mg in apple and only 30mg in banana.
Not only guava but also guava leaves have medicinal value. The use of guava leaves (amrood leaves) in keeping skin and hair healthy, boosting immunity, managing diabetes and preventing cancer are now being studied extensively.
Let's take a closer look at this 'ultimate superfood' and the various health benefits of guava leaves and fruit along with guava nutrition facts.
What is guava?
Guava or Psidium guajava is a fruit of a small tropical tree belonging to the Myrtaceae family which is native to central and northern South America, and Mexico. It is cultivated in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. India is the world’s largest producer of guava, followed by China, Thailand and Mexico.
The guava fruit is an edible berry with a thin outer skin which is green or yellow, and a pink or yellowish fleshy interior with many seeds embedded in it. Some popular varieties of guava grown in India are Allahabad safeda, Anakapalli, Banarasi, Chittidar and Hafshi.
Nutritional value of guava fruit (raw, 100g)
As stated earlier, guava has an abundance of nutrients and is rightly called a ‘superfruit’. Here’s a look at guava’s nutritional value:
- Calories 68kcal
- Total carbohydrate 14g
- Dietary fibre 5.4g
- Sugar 8.9g
- Total fat 1g
- Protein 2.6g
- Choline 7.6mg
- Folate 49mcg
- Niacin 1.084mg
- Pantothenic acid 0.451mg
- Riboflavin 0.040mg
- Thiamin 0.067mg
- Vitamin A 624.00 IU
- Vitamin B6 0.110mg
- Vitamin C 228.3mg
- Vitamin E 0.73mg
- Vitamin K 2.6mcg
- Calcium 18.00mg
- Copper 0.230mg
- Iron 0.26mg
- Magnesium 22.00mg
- Manganese 0.150mg
- Phosphorus 40.00mg
- Potassium 417.00mg
- Selenium 0.6mcg
- Sodium 2.00mg
- Zinc 0.23mg
Data based on USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) - National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
Health benefits of guava
Here’s a look at some of the amazing health benefits that guava offers:
- Heart health: Studies demonstrate that consuming guava, preferably before meals, helps lower triglyceride and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the blood, and simultaneously boosts good cholesterol (HDL). Being rich in potassium, eating guava also helps regulate blood pressure by improving the sodium and potassium balance of the body. All these aid in maintaining good heart health and reducing the risk of heart diseases.
- Healthy skin: Regular consumption of guava can slow down signs of ageing. Guava contains vitamin K which helps remove dark circles under the eyes, stretch marks, skin discoloration, redness and acne. Consuming guava makes the skin appear fresh and radiant as the fruit and leaves are rich in astringents — substances that help cleanse the skin, shrink pores and dry out secretions. Astringents also help remove dead cells from the skin and lighten the complexion.
- Weight loss: Raw guava has lesser sugar content than other fruits such as apples, oranges and grapes. Snacking on guava not only satisfies your appetite, but also supplements your body with essential vitamins, minerals and fibre. This helps to regulate metabolism and aids in weight loss.
- Gut health: Being a rich source of dietary fibre, eating guava helps facilitate bowel movements and prevents constipation. It also neutralises harmful microbes in the gut, thereby preventing common gastric ailments. The flavonoids present in guava leaves reduce the volume of gastric acid secretion and raise the gastric pH. This inhibits the formation of gastric lesions and prevents ulceration.
- Immunity: Guava is a strong immunity booster because it is rich in antioxidants. It is specifically rich in vitamin C, which protects the body from common infections and pathogens. The tannins present in guava leaves exert powerful antimicrobial action against certain bacteria and fungi.
- Cancer: Guava contains lycopene, quercetin and vitamin C, which are powerful antioxidants that prevent cancer by neutralising the free radicals generated in the body. Studies demonstrate that guava leaf extract has an inhibiting effect on various types of cancer including oral cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and leukemia.
- Brain health: Vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) present in guava help improve blood circulation to the brain. This relaxes the nerves and stimulates the cognitive functioning of the brain.
- Eyesight: Vitamin A present in guava is essential for good eyesight. It prevents cataract formation, night blindness and macular degeneration, and improves the overall eye health. Vitamin C in guava helps in maintaining healthy capillaries and in the proper functioning of the retinal cells.
- Thyroid health: Guava contains copper, which plays a crucial role in the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Guava helps to stabilise dip in potassium levels caused by thyroid activity, and its strong anti-inflammatory properties also improve thyroid health and functioning.
- Blood circulation: Being rich in potassium, guava consumption helps to improve blood circulation in the body and decrease blood pressure levels. In addition to this, the minerals present in the guava fruit inhibit the adverse effects of excess sodium in the body.
- Stress relief: Eating guava can provide relief from stress and boost your energy levels. The presence of magnesium in guava helps to regulate the stress hormone cortisol, thereby relaxing the muscles and nerves of the body.
Guava during pregnancy
Due to its rich nutrient content and multiple health benefits, guava is considered a safe and healthy food for pregnant women. However, to avoid any health risks, it is advised to eat only ripe and peeled fruits in small amounts. It is ideal to eat one fully ripe guava weighing approximately 100-125g daily.
According to Dr Neha Sanwalka Rungta, paediatric nutritionist and director of NutriCanvas, "Guava is one of the best sources of vitamin C. It is also rich in fibre. Consuming a guava during pregnancy is very beneficial to the pregnant mother. The Vitamin C helps build the mother's immunity and aids in the growth and development of the fetus. Vitamin C is also very important for iron absorption. Many pregnant mothers are often anemic and including guava along with other iron-rich foods would cure anemia faster. Also, many pregnant mothers suffer from constipation. The fiber in guava helps relieve the same. But, before consuming guava, pregnant mothers should wash the fruit thoroughly. Also, one shouldn't bite into a guava, but cut it with a knife and eat it as there a possibility of finding worms inside the fruit."
Benefits of guava leaves
It’s not just the guava fruit that is loaded with nutrients. The leaves of the guava plant also come with equally beneficial properties. The health benefits of guava leaves include:
- Healthy hair: The benefits of using guava for hair growth and maintenance are well-documented. Guava leaves are rich in vitamin C, lycopene, antioxidants and other phytochemicals. These nourish the scalp, fight dandruff, promote hair growth and prevent hair damage.
- Diabetes control: While guava is a fruit with a low glycemic index, the benefits of guava leaves for diabetes has long been known to traditional medicine practitioners. In their study, Deguchi and Miyazaki suggested that guava leaf tea containing guava leaf extract is helpful in treating diabetic and prediabetic patients.
- Oral health: Dental plaque and cavities, bleeding gums and mouth sores are a growing health issue. The leaves of the guava tree have powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, analgesic and antibacterial properties. Guava leaves’ benefits for teeth include relief from toothache. Chewing guava leaves or rinsing the mouth with guava leaf mouthwash can help relieve swollen gums, and mouth odour and ulcers. In their article, Megalaa N et al say that guava leaf mouthwash decreases the concentration of volatile sulfur compounds which cause mouth odour.
- Cough and sore throat: Guava leaf extract has traditionally been used to treat cough and sore throat. The abundance of antioxidants, vitamin C and iron in guava leaves is very effective in controlling viral infections that cause cough, cold and sore throat. Drinking guava leaf tea is known to help relieve mucus and decongest the respiratory tract.
- Menstrual health: Guava leaf extract has been used to treat menstrual disorders and amenorrhea, as well as postpartum haemorrhage. It is also helpful in relieving uterine cramps.
- Male fertility: Research has proved that guava leaf extract can boost male fertility without any side effects. In their study on male rats, Ekaluo et al have mentioned the benefits of guava leaves for fertility. According to them, the extract of guava leaves increased the levels of testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone/interstitial cell stimulating hormone (LH/ICSH), estradiol and prolactin.
- Other ailments: According to a research article titled, ‘Health Effects of Psidium guajava L. Leaves: An Overview of the Last Decade’ by Verardo et al, published in the International Journal of Molecular Science (2017), ‘the consumption of decoction, infusion, and boiled preparations from guava leaves is the most common way to overcome several disorders, such as rheumatism, diarrhoea, diabetes mellitus, and cough.’
Making guava leaf tea
The best way to reap the benefits of guava leaves is by drinking guava leaf tea once a day. Here’s how you can prepare it:
- Take 6 to 8 fresh guava leaves and wash them thoroughly.
- Boil the leaves in 1 litre of water for 10 minutes.
- Filter the water using a sieve to remove the leaves.
- Add a little honey to the filtered liquid if you want to sweeten it.
- Your guava leaf tea is ready.
Side effects of guava
Eating guava has no major side effects. However, just like any other food, it is always good to consume it in moderation. An overdose of guava can cause gas, bloating and diarrhoea as a result of its high fibre content.
Interesting facts about guava
- The name ‘guava’ is drawn from ‘guayabo’, a term from the language of the Arawak people in South America.
- There are around 150 species of guava cultivated around the world.
- Guava plants are evergreen shrubs or small trees that reach up to 20 feet in height. The lifespan of a shrub is approximately 40 years.
- A normal guava fruit contains 100 to 500 tiny, edible seeds packed together in the centre of the fruit. There also exist many varieties of seedless guava.
- Guava leaves are used in the textile industry to prepare a black pigment.
- Wood from the guava tree is used for smoking meat.
- According to 2016 data, India produces around 18.8 million tons of guava. This accounts for 40% of the global guava production.
Guava is truly a wonder fruit with such an abundance of health benefits. It’s also easily available and affordable. Make guava a regular part of your family’s diet, and help your children enjoy its distinct taste and unlimited goodness.
About the author:
Written by V Saravana Kumar on 28 October 2019
The author is a writer, translator, editor, artist, graphic designer and a start-up enthusiast. He is also learning the art of parenting through his two teenaged children.
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