The pineapple guava (scientific name Acca sellowiana) is a South American tree part of the Myrtaceae family. The native range of the pineapple guava covers the high areas of eastern Paraguay, Uruguay, northern Argentina, Colombia and especially southern Brazil. The popular name pineapple guava is misleading, since it is not actually a guava. It is a perennial and evergreen species that reaches a height between 1 and 7 m, which makes it either a shrub or a small tree. Because of its fruit and ornamental value, pineapple guava is a popular cultivated species.
The name pineapple guava comes from the fragrance of the fruit, resembling a pineapple. It is very easy to cultivate, especially since it pollinates itself. The small size of the tree makes it perfect for small spaces and indoor cultivation.
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Due to the attractive look and small size of the plant, it is widely used for landscaping. It is great for small home gardens and grows very well in warm climates. The bloom takes place during the month of May, while the fruits ripe at the end of summer. They have a red color, with a sweet taste and delicate fragrance. As soon as they mature, the fruits fall to the ground. Minor pruning makes the plant more attractive, while allowing it to produce fruits. Shaping the pineapple guava into a smaller shrub is possible, but the fruit yield will be reduced. Side branches that grow too close to the ground, under 1 foot or so, are better removed. If the lower branches in the lower third are cut for a number of years, the plant will eventually start growing as a tree.
The pineapple guava is a very healthy fruit and constant consumption provides numerous health benefits. These include reducing oxidative stress, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels or nutrient deficiencies, improving the metabolism, circulation, cognitive function and immune response, preventing obesity, osteoporosis, indigestion and diabetes.
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Including this fruit in your diet is especially useful as a boost to the immune system, due to the strong mix of vitamins and minerals in its composition. It is especially rich in vitamin C and one serving provides more than half of an adult person's recommended daily intake of this essential nutrient. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals but also boosts the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells, which are the first defence mechanism against pathogens.
Due to the very high content of dietary fibers, the fruit is an excellent choice for improving digestion. Fibers boost bowel movement and allow the digestive system to be more effective and extract more nutrients from the food we eat. This will prevent numerous digestive issues, such as bloating, cramps, indigestion and constipation.
The second very important effect of dietary fibers is reducing the total levels of cholesterol in the blood stream. Cholesterol deposits on the walls of arteries are extremely dangerous and can greatly increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks or blood clots. Fibers can eliminate these deposits from the blood vessels and keep them clean.
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Pineapple guavas are also a major source of potassium. This essential mineral dilates blood vessels, which reduces the stress on them and provides relief to the entire circulatory system in the body. This effect is especially valuable for people who suffer from high blood pressure, since potassium reduces the risk of strokes, atherosclerosis or other heart diseases.
The pineapple guava fruit is very rich in antioxidant compounds that can counter the destructive action of free radicals. Antioxidants are a key focus area of modern medicine. Studies have proven their ability to prevent plaque in neural links by neutralizing the free radicals before they can do any damage. This can prevent Alzheimer's disease, dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, while improving focus and memory.
Several types of B vitamins, also known as the B vitamins complex, can be found in moderate quantities in pineapple guavas. These vitamins are among the most important for the human body, since they influence a wide range of metabolic functions. They are directly involved in the production of red blood cells, proteins and hormones, the production of energy at a cellular level and the enhancement of the function of the central nervous system.
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This delicious exotic fruit also provides an almost complete package of essential minerals, with generous amounts of potassium, calcium, manganese and copper. These have many roles but are especially required to restore energy levels of elder people. Women must always be careful to preserve a proper mineral density, in order to avoid developing osteoporosis.
Since the pineapple guava is very low in carbohydrates and calories, it can be an excellent addition to the diet of people who suffer from diabetes. Consuming it constantly can increase the production of insulin and balance the level of sugar in the blood stream.
You might notice an energy boost after eating the fruit, which is actually caused by an increased amount of oxygen that reaches the cells. This is achieved by two compounds found in the pineapple guava: the vitamin B that increases the overall blood flow and the minor amount of iron, required for the production of red blood cells.
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The pineapple guava fruit can be an extremely useful addition to a healthy diet, preventing obesity by reducing the number of snacks between meals. These is mainly because the fruit only has 55 calories per 100 grams, with a massive amount of both nutrients and dietary fibers. This makes the body feel full, without the need of additional sugar or calories. Avoiding too much sugar is essential in an ambitious weight loss diet.
The fruit's skin is edible but rarely consumed. Usually, the fruit is cut in two halves, then a spoon is used to just take out the pulp. This is because the flesh is sweet near the seeds but the one close to the skin has a poorer taste. Another quick and popular way to consume the fruit is by biting it in half and squeezing the pulp out. The third common method is to bite one end off and tear it in half. It is then possible to scrape the gritty flesh near the skin off, using your teeth.
The pineapple guava has a strong and interesting flavour, resembling not only a pineapple and guava that give the fruit its name, but also a strawberry and a wintergreen in the aftertaste. It can enhance the taste of fruit smoothies and also pairs well with vodka. It can be brewed into either a wine or a cider. It also serves as a cooking ingredient and can replace other fruits in any stewed recipes. It can also be included in chutneys. It is not easy however to pair the pineapple guava with other fruits and vegetables, since the very strong taste can cover all of the others. It is a challenge for skilled chefs.
The skin of the fruit rarely changes, it usually stays the same nuance of green until it is too ripe or even starts to rot. Since it is so hard to judge ripeness visually, it is easier to feel it by touching. When ripe, the pineapple guava has the same texture as a ripe banana. Usually, the fruit falls to the ground just as it becomes optimally ripe, so it can be consumed the same day. It is often too bitter when still in the tree but spoils quite fast on the ground. It is a good idea to gather the fruits every day from the ground, in order to consume them right away.
The pulp changes in aspect depending on how ripe it is. Young fruits have white and opaque flesh but it becomes clear as it ripens, with a jelly-like texture. At perfect ripeness, the pulp should be gelatinous and clear. If there are brown parts in it, the fruit is too ripe. It can still be eaten raw or used to prepare various products, such as compotes, jams, jellies or juices.
Pineapple guava flowers are edible as well and are consumed by humans, as well as animals and birds. They are often added in salads, providing an interesting taste. The petals are sweet and resemble the aroma of cinnamon.
The pineapple guava can grow in several climate zones, from temperate to sub-tropical and tropical. In order to produce fruits, it requires a minimum of 50 of hours of cold weather per year. It also survives frost. Even young plants are able to tolerate frost but they can be killed by powerful winds. This is due to the slow rate of growth in the first one or two years, when propagated by seeds.
Note that temperatures below −9 °C destroy the flowers, so the pineapple guava will not yield fruits every year in such conditions. The fruits can also be destroyed by very hot summers, with temperatures of 32 °C or more. The tree can tolerate many adverse conditions, such as salty soils or periods of drought, but this will again affect the fruits. If planted in semi-shade, it will need more water in order to allow the fruit to mature.
Since the moment when the fruit is truly ripe is not easy to estimate, it is best to just collect it after it falls to the ground. Every few days during the season, place a large cloth under the tree to collect the fruits and shake it to force them to fall down. Another option is to harvest the unripe fruits and let them mature indoors. They will not have the same taste though. There are a few signs that the fruits start to ripe: the skin becomes less firm and the pineapple guava starts to have a mild pleasant smell. It is possible to preserve them in the refrigerator for maximum one week.