Foods with super-healing powers: Guavas
Guavas are a small tropical fruit that can be round, oval, or pear-shaped. They're not all that common, so they might be hard to find, depending on where you live. But if you can track them down, it's more than worth it. Guavas contain more of the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable, and nearly 20 percent more than tomatoes. Our bodies can't process much of the lycopene in tomatoes until they're cooked; the processing helps break down tough cell walls. However, guavas' cell structure allows the antioxidant to be absorbed whether the fruit is raw or cooked, and the whole fruit offers the nutrition without the added sodium of processed tomato products.
Lycopene protects our healthy cells from free radicals that can cause all kinds of damage, including blocked arteries, joint degeneration, nervous system problems, and even cancer. Lycopene consumption is associated with significantly lower rates of prostate cancer; in addition, men with prostate tumors who consumed lycopene supplements showed significant improvements, such as smaller tumors and decreased malignancy. Lycopene has also been found to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, and research suggests that this antioxidant may also help protect against coronary heart disease.
This strange-looking little fruit is also packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants. Serving for serving, guava offers more than 60 percent more potassium than a banana, which can help protect against heart disease and stroke. In fact, the nutrients found in guavas have been shown to lower LDL and boost HDL cholesterol, reduce triglycerides, and lower blood pressure.
How much: Aim to eat fresh guavas as often as you can when you can find them in stores. They're not commonly available in the freezer section; and most guava juices are processed and sweetened, so they don't provide the same superior nutrition that the whole, fresh fruit does. One to two guavas a day is a good goal.
- Opt for the red-fleshed variety if you can; both are loaded with antioxidants, but the red type has more than the white-fleshed apple guava.