In this article:
- One hundred grams of guava can fulfill 14% of your daily fiber requirement without adding to your calorie load.
- This tasty fruit is sweet and tart at the same time, which means it goes well with a variety of saccharine and savory recipes, from pies and jams to meat marinades.
- Guava is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can be best derived when the fruit is consumed raw and fresh.
- The health benefits of guava consumption include enhanced oral and skin health and improved diabetes management.
- People with a guava allergy can suffer mild to severe reactions after eating the fruit depending on their tolerability, and so they should be careful before buying jams, jelly, or any product which may contain guava.
Guava (Psidium guajava) is believed to originate from Mexico and South America. The guava tree bears a round or pear-shaped tropical fruit.
The fruit’s outer skin ripens to light green, yellow, or maroon. The rind is edible and, depending on the variety, has either a bitter or sweet taste. The tender interior contains 100-500 edible seeds embedded in a white or maroon pulp.
Guava’s sweet yet tart taste is perfectly paired with a strong, lemony aroma.
This article will review the nutrition value and health benefits of guava, ways of using it, and some cautions when consuming the fruit.
Guava is a nutritional powerhouse, full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols, and flavonoids.
Additionally, a 100 g serving of guava is low in fat and calories and contains 14% of the dietary reference intake (DRI) for fiber! Most Americans consume less than 50% of the recommended 25-38 g of fiber per day.
Guava is a good source of vitamins A and C, copper, folate, and fiber. It contains antioxidants such as beta carotene and lycopene, as well as iron, B vitamins, potassium, zinc, and phosphorus. (1)
This synergy of nutrients can contribute to lifelong health and protection from disease. Supplements cannot provide the abundance of protective nutrients all wrapped up in a sweet and low-calorie treat quite like guava.
|Nutrient||Amount||Percent Daily Value|
|Vitamin C||228 mg||254%|
|Vitamin A||31 µg||12%|
|Beta carotene||374 µg||-|
Health Benefits of Guava
1. Oral Health
The standard mouthwash used to treat and prevent gingivitis often contains a disinfectant called chlorhexidine.
Chlorohexidine can stain tooth surfaces and cause taste changes. Due to these undesirable side effects, researchers are looking for natural alternatives to improve oral health.
A recent study found that daily use of a 0.15% guava leaf extract-based mouthwash was as effective as a standard mouthwash in reducing bacteria, redness, and swelling in patients with severe gingivitis. (3)
Of course, guava is not an alternative to proper oral care. It is essential to visit the dentist regularly, brush, and floss.
Long-term studies are needed to demonstrate the potential of guava for oral health. However, budding research shows promising evidence that the leaves can help treat and prevent oral health problems.
2. Diabetes Management
The glycemic index is a tool that estimates a food’s effect on blood sugar. This tool is used by many people with diabetes. Foods that are high on the glycemic index cause blood sugars to spike and must be eaten less often and in smaller portion sizes.
Fruits tend to be high on the glycemic index. Many people with diabetes avoid fruits in general because of their effect on blood sugar. This is unfortunate because fruits contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal health.
Fiber slows the absorption of sugar in the intestines and helps keep blood sugar levels from spiking. Due to its high fiber content, guava is low on the glycemic index and can keep blood sugar stable.
Guava is a healthy fruit that can be included in the diet of people with diabetes while maintaining blood sugar control.
However, portion size and the preparation method can influence the effect guava will have on blood sugar. The guava peel tends to elevate blood sugars more than the inner flesh. Diabetics should remove the guava peel before consumption for better blood sugar control. (4)
The guava leaf may have additional benefits for diabetics. One research study found that tea made from guava leaf extracts helped to prevent blood sugar spikes when ingested with meals. (5)
Although not a replacement for medical treatment, guava can be a natural way to manage blood sugar for prediabetic and diabetic patients.
3. Skin Health
Free radicals are harmful substances made during normal body processes. If allowed to accumulate, they damage cells and contribute to the signs of aging.
Antioxidants act as the body’s clean-up crew. They neutralize free radicals, blocking them from damaging our cells.
Guava is rich in potent antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta carotene, and lycopene. Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen, a protein that keeps the skin resilient and healthy. Also, the nutrients in guava may protect against UV-induced skin damage. (6)
With four times the vitamin C content of oranges, guava provides the antioxidant power to help protect healthy skin. More research is needed to demonstrate its potential in slowing the aging process.
Other Potential Benefits
Traditional therapies and emerging research suggest many potential benefits of guava for the treatment of various ailments and diseases. However, the evidence is limited.
Many studies are done on animals, it is yet not known how humans might react to the same treatments. Further investigation is needed to determine the true effect of guava on these various conditions.
1. Treats Diarrhea
In South Africa, guava leaves are traditionally used to treat diarrhea.
Animal studies show that guava leaf extract may reduce the number of watery stools and abdominal pain. (7)
The antibacterial properties of guava could cleanse the gut of the harmful organisms causing diarrhea.
2. Suppresses Osteoarthritis
3. Relieves Menstrual Cramps
One study compared the effectiveness of 3 mg or 6 mg guava extract versus 1200 mg ibuprofen per day in reducing menstrual cramp pain.
They found that the women who took 6 mg of guava extract had significantly reduced menstrual pain during the 4-month study period compared with ibuprofen. (9)
The women who took 3 mg did not have a consistent benefit.
4. Fights Flu
As vaccine-resistant flu strains are emerging, researchers are looking for alternative methods to fight these super-viruses.
The flavanols in guava tea are natural antioxidants that have antiviral effects. Unlike most vaccines, they act on a broad spectrum of viruses and could be used to fight the myriad of emerging flu strains. (10)
5. Lowers Risk of Cancer
Free radicals are also responsible for cell damage that contributes to cancer. The antioxidants in guava could help prevent cancer and tumor development. (11)
6. Improves Heart Health
Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives fruits and vegetables their red color.
The pink-colored guava fruit contains lycopene, which is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. There is some evidence that consuming guava fruit and juice without the peel can reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol. (4)(12)
7. Supports Wound Healing
Guava seed oil is high in antioxidants and linoleic acid, an unsaturated fat. Linoleic acid is known to play a role in wound healing and blood vessel formation.
A recent study found that guava seed oil promoted wound healing by increasing the migration of skin cells. (13)
8. Protects Male Fertility
The antioxidants in guava may protect the sperm from natural toxins.
In one study, the rats given guava leaf extract had significantly increased sperm counts compared with the rats given placebo after exposure to the natural toxin gossypol. (14)
This result suggested that guava leaves have the potential to protect male fertility when exposed to natural toxins.
9. Promotes Infant Development
Folate is a vitamin that plays a role in the growth of new cells. During the first trimester of pregnancy, critical neural development occurs.
Mothers must have adequate folate before conception and during early pregnancy to prevent spina bifida, the result of an improperly formed spinal cord.
Women who plan to become pregnant should have 400-800 mg of folate per day. Guava is a good source of folate and can contribute to a woman’s overall intake.
How to Eat Guava
First, wash the guava. Although guava remains one of the least contaminated fruits, it is important to remove any dirt or germs that may be on the outside.
These are some of the ways that guava can be enjoyed:
- Eaten whole like an apple as the outer rind is edible
- Sliced and eaten plain, with or without the rind
- Lightly seasoned with lemon juice, salt, sugar, soy sauce, or cayenne pepper
- Boiled and gelled to make candy, jelly, or jam
- Cooked in pies and cakes
- As topping on a salad, breakfast cereal, or yogurt
- Pureed in pudding, syrup, juice, or baby food
- Added to savory sauces such as tomato sauce, marinades, and salsa to impart a sweet-tart touch
- Dried and eaten as a snack
Selection and Storage
When selecting your fruit at the store, check that it is free of any cuts or bruises. Also, be sure to give your fruit a sniff before putting it in your basket. You can often tell good guavas by their smell, even before they are ripe. Select guava that has a strong, fruity aroma.
The guava at grocery stores may still be underripe. You can tell that the guava is ripe when it changes from bright green to yellowish with a hint of pink.
If you are anxious for green guava to ripen, you can place it in a paper bag with an apple or banana. This will accelerate the ripening process.
If the guava is not ripe yet, it should be stored at room temperature for up to 6 days. Ripe fruit should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Although guavas can be stored in the fridge for longer preservation, they taste best if eaten as soon as they are ripe.
How Are Guavas Grown and Harvested?
Perennial fruits, such as guava, are loved by gardeners and farmers because they can produce for many years without being replanted. Guava plants live for around 40 years!
Usually, plants will start bearing fruit at 2 years and are heavy producers by age 8. Under proper conditions, a tree can be ready for harvest two times per year.
Production and season depend on the specific variety. In tropical regions, guavas are grown and harvested year-round. For local customers, farmers allow the fruit to ripen on the trees.
If you ever get the chance to eat ripe guava straight from the tree, you are lucky! Tree-ripened guavas have the most natural and powerful flavor.
Many people do not live where guavas are grown naturally. Fortunately, guavas continue to ripen after being picked. This is a major advantage of the guava fruit because it means that chemicals and pesticides are not needed for preservation.
Many other fruits are picked at peak ripeness and then covered with preservatives to keep them fresh during the long journey to your kitchen. On the other hand, guava continues to ripen after picking.
The fruit can be harvested early and naturally ripens by the time it reaches your kitchen shelf – no preservatives needed.
There are many varieties of guava and they have individual characteristics of flavor, texture, and odor. The two main categories are white and pink/red guavas.
The sweeter red guava has high moisture content and can be used to make jams, desserts, and sauces. The more acidic white guava has a firm texture that makes it suitable for eating sliced or as topping on a salad, breakfast cereal, or yogurt.
|Color||White Guava||Pink/Red Guava|
|Flavor||Mild sweetness, tart||Intense sweetness|
|Aroma||Mild, lemony, musky||Potent, sweet|
|Moisture content||Slightly firm||High moisture content|
|Use||Eaten whole, sliced, or as a topping||Jams, dessert, savory sauces|
|Notable varieties||Supreme, Webber-Supreme hybrid, Crystal, Lotus, Asian White||Ruby, Blitch, Pattillo, Homestead|
Other special varieties include the strawberry guava that tastes like a strawberry and lemon guava that has a flavor that resembles both the lemon and guava.
Cautions and Considerations
Guava is a healthy food that can be included in most diets. However, it may not be the right food for everyone. Take the following into consideration before adding guava to your diet:
Can guava cause an allergy?
Guava should be avoided by those who are allergic to it to prevent possibly fatal reactions. Reactions can be mild or severe depending on the individual’s sensitivity, portion size, and duration of exposure.
See a medical provider to determine if you have an allergy if you experience these symptoms after eating or touching guava:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swollen mouth, lips, or tongue
- Itchy, red rash after touching the leaves
- Wheezing, coughing, or chest tightness
- Sneezing, congestion, or runny nose
Although allergies to guava are possible, they are not common. Guava is naturally low in histamine, a compound made by the body during inflammatory and allergic reactions.
Is it safe to eat guava if you have diabetes?
Guava is low on the glycemic index. However, the peel has been shown to increase blood sugar. Results of an animal study suggested that people with diabetes should remove the peel from guava before eating. (15)
Is fructose good for you?
Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar found in fruits. When present in fruits and vegetables, fructose can be part of a nutritious diet.
However, fructose is also used to make high-fructose corn syrup, which is an ingredient of many processed foods, including soda and candy.
These foods are associated with increased risk of diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases. High-fructose corn syrup is likely related to these diseases because it is easily overconsumed and contributes to excess weight gain.
The fructose in fruits and vegetables is not associated with increased risk of disease.
Can guava make you feel bloated?
Guavas are high in fiber and fructose, which are fermented by the bacteria in our gut. As the bacteria feast on fiber and fructose, they produce gas. This can make you feel bloated and gassy.
If you are currently on a low-fiber diet, you should slowly add high-fiber foods until you reach the recommended 25-38 g of fiber per day. This allows your body to adjust to higher fiber intake and prevents bloating and discomfort.
As with any food, moderation and portion size are key. The USDA “Choose My Plate Food Pattern” recommends consuming 2-3 cups of fruit per day.
Is guava keto safe?
The ketogenic diet is not nutritionally adequate due to the exclusion of most fruits and vegetables, which are high in carbohydrates. Compared with other fruits, guava is low in net carbs due to its high fiber content. A 100 g serving has 14 grams of net carbs.
Guava can contribute the needed vitamins and minerals to a ketogenic diet.
High levels of vitamin C may interact with medications. One serving of guava contains over 200% of the daily value of vitamin C.
Practice caution when adding guava to your diet if you take any of these medications:
Try these easy recipes for guava leaf tea, cheese, and milkshake!
Guava Leaf Tea
- Wash 6 guava leaves.
- Place the leaves in a pot with about 1 liter of water.
- Boil the water and leaves for about 10 minutes.
- Filter the water to remove the remaining guava leaves.
- Add honey to taste.
The tea is ready to drink!
- 2 pounds guava (enough to make 4 cups of pulp)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 cups sugar
- Cut off the ends of the guava and slice one fruit into four sections, lengthwise.
- Remove the seeds.
- Cut the guava into small pieces (you can leave the skin on).
- Place the chopped fruit pieces into a pan and cover with water.
- Cook until soft.
- Strain the cooked fruit using a cheesecloth.
- Squeeze and preserve the pulp to make the cheese.
- For 4 cups of pulp, use 3 cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Put the mixture over medium heat, stirring consistently. Cook until the mixture forms a ball and leaves the side of the pan.
- Empty the mixture onto a greased plate to set.
- Cut into squares and store in an airtight jar.
Guava cheese can be eaten as a dessert or a topping on fruit or toast.
- Wash and peel the guava.
- Dice the peeled fruit.
- Blend the guava with sugar, to taste, until smooth.
Note: The blender will not crush the hard guava seeds. The seeds can be strained if desired.
One of the beauties of the modern world is that exotic fruits such as the guava are available at the local grocery store.
Guava can be enjoyed in its simplicity or prepared into an intricate dish. It is packed with nutrients that contribute to its many touted health benefits.
Many of its acclaimed benefits have not been fully researched, but there is no arguing that this delicious fruit can be a nutritious addition to a healthy diet.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Ms. Brocha Soloff, RD
Guava is a high-fiber fruit that can help manage blood sugar levels when eaten in moderation.
Eating fruits in excess can cause weight gain due to the high quantities of sugar and total calories in them. If you are trying to lose weight, consume fruits, including guavas, in moderation.
Guava seeds are best avoided, as guava seeds can, on rare occasions, cause appendicitis if they get stuck in the appendix.
Guava, when eaten in conjunction with an overall healthy balanced diet, can help manage blood sugar levels, promote weight maintenance, and even aid in weight loss when combined with caloric restriction.
Guava on an empty stomach is great because it is refreshing and healthy to start your day with a fruit that contains fibers to fill you up and carbohydrates to give you energy for the day.
About Ms. Brocha Soloff, RD: Brocha is a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, and group fitness instructor. She is currently a dietitian at the Excelsior Care Group and resides in the Greater New York City area.