Jamaicans use guava in much the same way. They usually eat it as a fresh desert fruit. But they also use guava to make jam and jelly, and as a sweet base for syrup or wine. Guava leaves are also used in “bush baths” to relieve rashes and treat skin diseases. Guavas are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, folic acid, potassium, copper and manganese. Those alone are enough of a benefit, because they power up your immune system.
A Potent Cancer Cell Killer
The leaves also have another surprise… they have anticancer properties… Guava extracts have been shown to suppress tumor growth, and in animal studies can suppress leukemia. Guava is especially good for men, because it can interrupt the pathways by which prostate cells become cancerous, and it can induce apoptosis, or cell death, in prostate cells that have already become cancerous.
Scientists are studying 60 compounds from guava for their possible anticancer effects. Part of guava’s anticancer power comes from its leaves, which are a rich source of a little-known flavonoid called morin. Research shows that morin can block the growth of tumor cells,2 and kill off colon3 and breast4 cancer cells. Guava leaves can also boost your brain health. Morin can shield your neurons and those
important brain cells called oligodendrocytes.
A study in the journal, Glia, found that free-radical damage from inflammation was much higher in glial cells not protected with morin.5 The reason this is so important is that glial cells not only support other brain cells, but they also detoxify and carry waste away from your brain while you sleep. This helps prevent the buildup of altered proteins, like the amyloid protein we see in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Wipe Out Bacteria, Fungus and Viruses
Guava leaf also has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal effects.6 It even works against the H1N1 “bird flu” virus strain.7 When guava leaves were tested for their free radical scavenging and antioxidant activity, they proved to be surprisingly potent.8 The leaves also improve your intestinal health. Guava fruit has what we call “prebiotic activity.” Prebiotics are non-digestible ingredients that power up the good bacteria in your gut. When these bacteria are strengthened, it improves your digestion, and you can absorb essential minerals better, improving your immune system.
Even better in today’s world, guava may help fight blood sugar problems and diabetes. Components found in the leaves, stems and the fruit can help block digestion of carbohydrates. This means producing less insulin, and having better blood sugar control.9, 10, 11, 12 In one study, 15 pre-diabetic men took a guava extract at every meal for 12 weeks. They all experienced reduced blood sugar, and a noticeable decrease in fats and triglyceride levels in the blood, which shows that their bodies were processing the carbohydrates more efficiently. A second study done over a period of eight weeks looked at people who were diabetics and
on diabetes medications. After supplementing with guava extract, they had reduced insulin production and lower blood sugar levels as well. Another benefit of guava comes from the essential oils. They are anti-inflammatory.13,14 Guava can strengthen your heart and kidneys, which is extremely important if you have diabetes.15, 16 So there’s a lot more to guava than just the fruit. Plus, as Lelir explained to me, guava has a highly beneficial traditional use that might have you visiting the produce section of the grocery store instead of the drug store…