December 28, 2010

Health Benefits Of Guava

If you have a natural liking for guavas or if your dietician or doctor has prescribed this seasonal fruit to you, then you should feel lucky! This mouth-watering treat comes with immense health benefits. Being rich in dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, copper and manganese, they are often included among superfruits.
Guava fruit, usually 5 to 10 cm (2-4 inches) long, are round or pear shaped depending on the variety. It bears a green, yellow or maroon cover while the inside of the fruit features the white ("white" guavas) or pink ("red" guavas) fleshy part containing many small, hard seeds. There are many varieties of guava that are grown for their fruit, including Psidium guajava (apple guava), Psidium cattleianum (strawberry guava), and Psidium friedrichstahlium. The most frequently encountered variety, and the one often simply referred to as “the guava”, is the Apple Guava.
Guava with its sweet smell can be taken raw or you can even enjoy guava jams and jellies with fresh bread slices! Whatever might be the mode of intake, guava, being a storehouse of nutrients, would provide many health benefits. 
Here are the health conditions which are targeted by the nutrients present in guava:
  1. Cancer Prevention: Guava is an excellent source of the cancer-fighting antioxidant, lycopene. Lycopene in guava is more easily absorbed by our body than lycopene from tomato becuase of the difference in the cell structure that allows the antioxidant to be absorbed whether the fruit is raw or cooked. Lycopene consumption is associated with significantly lower rates of prostate cancer, and it has also been found to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. Lycopene promotes good health by acting against the influence of “free radicals”, which can damage cells and can contribute to developing cancer and coronary heart disease. All varieties of guava are loaded with antioxidants but the one with the red flesh type contains more than the white-fleshed apple guava.
  2. High Blood Pressure: Guava, being hypoglycemic in nature (if taken without skin) and fiber rich, helps in decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This makes guavas highly beneficial for those at risk for heart disease and hypertension. Also, a medium guava (165 gm) provides you with 20 percent of the recommended daily value (DV) for potassium. Studies have shown that people who consume more potassium have lower blood pressures than those who consume less.
  3. Diarrhea: Guava has proved to be beneficial to individuals suffering from Diarrhea. Guava has astringents (chemical compound that tends to shrink or constrict body tissues, for example compounds those make your gums feel tighter and fresh after you eat a raw guava), which are helpful in binding up loose stools during the conditions of diarrhea. These alkaline compounds display antibacterial properties and have the ability to prevent microbial growth during dysentery. Other disinfectants present in guava include Carotenoids, Vitamin C and Potassium. These properties and ingredients of guava also support healing in cases of gastroenteritis.
  4. Cough and Cold: The decoction of guava leaves or the juices of raw or immature guavas bring relief to individuals suffering from cough and cold. This can be attributed to the astringent properties of guava juice. The juice works by loosening the cough, decreasing mucus and by making the respiratory tract, throat and lungs infection-free. Guava is also rich in vitamin C and iron, which provide protections against cold and viral infections.
  5. Skin Care: The astringents of guava enhance the skin texture and tighten loosened skin. In fact, guava works more effectively than any other skin nourishing lotions in the market. Decoction of immature leaves and fruits can be applied on the skin for tightening and toning purposes. Additionally, guava has high contents of vitamin A, vitamin C and Potassium, which are characterized by their antioxidant functions. These nutrients carry out detoxification processes and keep the skin healthy and wrinkle-free.
  6. Constipation: High amount of dietary fiber present in guava helps prevent constipation. A medium guava provides you with 36 percent of the recommended daily value for dietary fiber. Also, the seeds of guava are very effective laxatives. Both these attributes help in the formation of bowels and the cleaning up of the excretory system.
  7. Diabetes: According to a study conducted on rats, both the guava fruit and its leaves can help diabetic patients by lowering their blood glucose levels. However, if consumed along with its skin, it can be bad for your blood sugar. According to the research published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research and conducted by researchers at the Medicinal Research Laboratory of the University of Allahabad, blood sugar levels in rats injected with guava peel extract rose by 91% in sub-diabetic rats within two hours of administration and by 27% in normal rats after eight hours of administration. So, the best way to consume a guava for diabetics is to peel off its skin.
  8. Weight Loss: Guava forms an essential component of a weight loss diet. Guava is rich in fiber, proteins and vitamins and this implies that individuals looking to lose weight would not have to compromise on their intake of these nutrients! Guava with no cholesterol and low carbohydrates, can still offer a feeling of fullness. A medium sized guava for lunch is enough to supply nutrition till dinner. Again, guava can help thin people gain weight. This can be attributed to its nutrients which aid in the better absorption process of the body.
  9. Scurvy: The Vitamin C content of a common guava (apple guava) is about four times than what we find in an orange. Thus, guavas are effective remedies for scurvy, which is characterized by swollen and bleeding gums due to deficiency of Vitamin C.
  10. Dental Care: The juice of the guava leaves containing astringents and vitamins is a remedy for toothaches, swollen gums and ulcers of the mouth.
There is no limit of explaining the health benefits of guava. Remember, it is a seasonal fruit! So just take care to have enough of these fruits during the peak season, summer! The nutrients consumed in the season would help to fight many health conditions for the entire year!

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