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Nutrition Column

Antioxidants Benefits of Tropical Guava

Guava juice is a delicious refreshing beverage consumed daily in the tropical climates like Hawaii. The juice originates from the tropical guava fruit that is beginning to be recognized as another valuable source of both dietary fiber and antioxidants. World production of guava is estimated at 500,000 metric tons used in beverages, syrup, jams, and jellies. In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, guava was shown to be a suitable source of fiber and natural antioxidants. Dietary fiber and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables are believed to help prevent degenerative diseases like heart disease and Parkinson’s. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the average American only consumes about half the recommended amount of fiber per day. In addition to being high in fiber, the study showed guava to also be a good source of phytochemicals like phenolics that are effective free-radical scavengers. Free radicals are highly reactive compounds that are dangerous to the body because they participate in unwanted side reactions causing damage to vital cells. Antioxidants protect against this type of damage by neutralizing the free radicals.

The study by Jimenez-Escrig et al. utilized free radical scavenging assays to measure the antioxidant activity of the components of guava pulp and peel and an assay that measured the hyperoxidation of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). LDL’s are sometimes termed “bad” cholesterol because they transport cholesterol to the arteries where they can start the formation of plaques. When LDL’s are oxidized in the bloodstream, they become more dangerous and can lead to build up in the arteries, with associated increases in heart attacks and strokes. Antioxidants like those found in guava protect against oxidation by decreasing the amount of free radicals available to react with LDL.

Fiber has been proven to be beneficial in the fight against many degenerative diseases as well. The study found 48-49 g dietary fiber/100g of guava fruit. Therefore, this refreshing fruit is another natural source of antioxidants and fiber that can protect us from developing dangerous diseases like atherosclerosis. Whether in the juice form for the antioxidants or as a fruit imparting all its health benefits, the guava adds variety to your already increasing list of healthy plant-based foods.

Written by Jodie Sasaki with Eric Sternlicht, Ph.D. Occidental College, Los Angeles.