By Amber Charles, MSPH, RDN
November 5, 2020
A fond childhood memory is picking guavas from the numerous trees in my Uncle's yard in Matura, a small village in Trinidad and Tobago, or packing my backpack with them on a walk home from Primary School.
However, there is an art to picking this fruit - look out for small holes or overripe fruit, otherwise you can wind up snacking on worms!
With over 50 cultivars, the white-fleshed Cayenne is unique to Trinidad. Guava's flesh color can be white, pale yellow, pale pink, deep-pink or even red.
Guava trees grow rapidly, bearing fruit within 2 to 4 years, and they live 30 to 40 years (although output declines after the 15th year).
This fruit is often eaten out-of-hand (make a great snack) , sliced, added to salads, or processed to make delicious treats. Have a slice of whole grain bread with some guava jam (a personal favorite), or Crix and guava cheese, and "wash it down" with guava juice.
Regardless of how you choose to enjoy this fruit, you are sure to gain many health benefits. Be mindful that canning/heat processing destroys about 50% of its vitamin C.
Guava is one of the richest natural food sources of vitamin C, and topped the USDA's 200 foods high in vitamin C list. Most of the vitamin C is found in its skin and it has a higher-than-average fiber content.
It is a good source of vitamins A, E, and K, and the minerals magnesium and zinc. A small amount of fat comes from its seeds.
The impressive nutrient density profile of guavas provide an array of benefits, including:
Aids digestion and guards against constipation
Good for brain health
Blood sugar control (due to high fiber)
Traditionally, this fruit is hand-picked or shared between neighbors/friends. But in the event you need to purchase it from the market or grocery store:
Ensure that the surroundings are clean, well-lit, and well-ventilated
The guava should be clean, firm, even-colored, free of bruises, bites, and pests
Purchase early in the day, as prolonged exposure to heat results in the loss of water/nutrients
Purchase in-season; they are more abundant when in season and usually cost less
Guavas stored at room temperature may overripe by the 5th day, but if wrapped in cling wrap, it can last up to 9 days. Refrigeration extends shelf life up to 4 weeks.
The Caribbean Market highlights the nutritional facts and health benefits of fruits and vegetables found in the Caribbean, with the goals of instilling pride and ownership in the diaspora, and promoting local eating.