Ever have a moment where you try and picture something that you know exists, but just can’t quite create a mental picture? This just happened to me when I decided to write about guavas. I know the word and could remember that they were fruits, but for one reason or another I couldn’t for the life of me picture them in my head. I shifted between images of avocados to lemons to kiwis and now I’m stuck without an image. Why are guavas an unknown fruit for me? Well let’s take a closer look and perhaps that will change by the end of today’s nutrition facts article on the guava.
Guava Culture and History
So while I still can’t picture them, that didn’t stop Spanish explorers from finding guavas in the early 1500’s in, let’s say Central America. Naturally this means that guavas didn’t start in the 1500’s, but of course that’s what the Spanish said when they returned home. “Hey look at the completely new fruit that we just found and didn’t exist before we found it!” Yes, I’m sure that’s how that conversation went. But you know, with more Spanish.
As with all good nonsense of the world, guavas began their rise to power in Mexico and South America before then becoming an integral staple of a handful of Asian countries, because again, when I think Central American fruit, I think Asia. Apparently North America had some guava trees in the beginning as well, specifically in Northern Florida.
Actually, we do know for certain that Florida takes great pride in the guava as every year around the end of October, Central Florida celebrates all things guava in something called “Guavaween.” It’s…not the name I’d go with necessarily, but hey, at least they’re having fun and eating their guavas, so more power to them!
Health Benefits of Guavas
Guavas wouldn’t really be fruits if they didn’t have some quirky nutrition to them, so of course you can expect vitamin C in abundance, as well as vitamin A, dietary fibers, and a general mixture of other minerals, in this case copper, manganese, and potassium. Oh, and folic acid, we mustn’t forget the folic acid, of which the guava has much.
What’s strange to me is that different guava cultivars have different nutritional percentages, so one version may have more vitamin C that others. Actually, the strawberry guava is a good example of this as it contains only about 25% of the vitamin C content that larger types would have, but it still meets 100% of the recommended intake for vitamin C. Dang, fruits are weird to me sometimes.
Guava leaves have played a huge role in folk medicine for years now, assuming it can help with all manner of maladies. Science has stepped in and discovered that…actually science has discovered that there’s a ton of truth to the old ways. Extracts from the leaves and the bark, specifically of apple guava trees, have shown to have possible anti-cancer properties, can guard against bacterial infection, can reduce inflammation and pain, and as a treatment against diabetes. Also, guava leaves are pretty commonly used to treat diarrhea, so hooray for guavas!
Eating More Guavas
For me, my problem seems to be yet again just finding the fruit in question. They’re a bit more specific to the region, so places like Florida will certainly have some, but living up here in the Pacific Northwest, I seem to be lacking guavas pretty regularly on every trip to the grocery store. If you can find them though, consuming them is as simple as cutting them up and eating.
While looking recipes though I found a handful of really tasty options, such as how in Hawaii guavas are typically eaten with soy sauce and vinegar, sometimes with pepper and sugar as well. Ooh that sounds good. In Pakistan and India, you’ll usually find guavas sold by street vendors and then eaten with salt, pepper, and occasionally cayenne powder, which sounds absolutely scrumptious right about now.
There are certainly the standard fruit options, such as adding guavas to fruit salads, green salads, ice cream, yogurt, cereal, smoothies, or juices. In a lot of those recipes, the key tends to be adding salt to the fruit by either sprinkling it on our dipping it in, and while you want to be careful not to overdo it with the salt, meh, a guava or two with salt isn’t going to hurt anything. You’re still eating fruit after all, right?
Despite not knowing much about guavas personally, I’m sure there are many out there who both know and love the guava like a younger brother. Do we have any guava fans in the readership? Does anyone have any fantastic guava recipes they’d be willing to share? Perhaps something that showcases the guava’s flavor without resorting to salt? Leave a comment and let me know! In the meantime, I need to go guava searching at my local produce market.