What Are the Health Benefits of Feijoa?

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, RD, LD, MPH on May 28, 2024
4 min read

Feijoa is a small fruit that’s also known as pineapple guava. Gardeners like the plant for its attractive qualities. Feijoa fruit also may have some potential health benefits.

The feijoa plant is native to Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. It can also be found in parts of Europe, like Italy and Spain. In the U.S., it’s most often grown in California and Florida. It’s a popular fruit in New Zealand, with the fruit being exported to other countries.

Other names for the feijoa include Brazilian guava, pineapple guava, fig guava, and guavasteen.

Feijoa fruit is slightly pear-shaped, oval, or oblong. It grows from about 1 to 2.5 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide. It has a thin green skin, which may have an orange or red blush. Before it’s fully ripe, the feijoa fruit has a strong perfume.

The flesh of the feijoa fruit is white and watery. The center is translucent. Each fruit has about 20 to 40 small seeds, though some may have more than 100. These small seeds are not really noticeable when you eat the fruit.

There are several different varieties of feijoa. They differ slightly depending on the size of the plant and shape of the fruit:

  • Triumph
  • Mammoth
  • Coolidge
  • Hehre

Feijoa is a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber. One cup of ½-inch chunks (205 grams) of feijoa contains:

Calories: 125

Carbohydrates: 31 grams

Fiber: 13 grams

Calcium: 35 milligrams

Magnesium: 18 milligrams

Potassium: 353 milligrams

Vitamin C: 67 milligrams

Folate: 47 micrograms

In traditional medicine, tea made from the leaves of the feijoa plant was used to treat cholera and dysentery.

Scientifically demonstrated feijoa benefits include: 

Antibacterial, Antifungal, and Antioxidant Activities

Lab studies have found that feijoa extracts have plant compounds that have antioxidant properties. Researchers say that the feijoa peel has higher antioxidant levels than the flesh.

Antioxidants are substances that may help prevent some forms of cell damage, including those caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that form during natural body processes or following exposure to pollutants such as radiation. 

Experts say that it’s better to get antioxidants from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Taking high-dosage antioxidant supplements may be linked to health risks.

Feijoa peel essential oils also have potential antibacterial and antifungal effects against certain bacteria and fungi, such as Staphylococcus aureus, which causes staph infections.

Anticancer Properties

In lab studies, researchers have found that the extract of feijoa fruit has anticancer effects on certain cancer cells, like gastric cancer cells. Gastric cancer or stomach cancer is the fifth-most-common cancer worldwide.

Protect Against Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory disease that can be difficult to successfully treat. Scientists say, though, that adding feijoa extract to your diet may have some benefits in managing IBD. Feijoa has compounds called polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds may have protective effects against IBD.

Rich in Potassium

Potassium is an essential nutrient that your body needs for cell function. It helps your muscles and nerves function properly and helps regulate your heartbeat. Adding more potassium-rich foods like feijoa to your diet can also help lower your blood pressure and your stroke risk.

Most Americans don’t manage to get even half of the daily potassium recommendation of 4,700 milligrams, and doctors say that you shouldn’t take potassium supplements without a prescription. Instead, you should get your potassium from the foods you eat, including feijoa.

Help Maintain Healthy Weight

Dietary fiber not only prevents constipation but also may help you:

  • Maintain bowel health
  • Lower your risk of dying from heart disease and cancers
  • Control blood sugar levels

When you eat high-fiber foods like feijoa, you tend to eat less and stay full longer. These foods also take longer to eat. This means that these foods can help you in achieving a healthy weight. 

Men should aim for about 30 to 38 grams of fiber a day. Women should eat at least 21 to 25 grams a day.

High in Folate

Like other tropical fruits, feijoa is high in folate. Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9. The manmade version of folate is known as folic acid. The recommended daily amount of folate for adults is 400 micrograms. If you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should get 400 micrograms to 1,000 micrograms of folate.

Folate is especially important during pregnancy because it can prevent birth defects of the neural tube, such as spina bifida. Folate may also help: 

  • Reduce your risk of certain cancers
  • Lower your risk of cardiovascular disease 
  • Treat depression

Feijoa tastes a little like a combination of guava and pineapple. The flesh is slightly tangy and grainy. The skin is often removed prior to consumption, but it’s edible.

Feijoa is best ripened on the tree. The fruit can also be picked when still firm, then ripened at room temperature. Still, it likely won't be as good as tree-ripened fruit. 

Store mature fruit in the fridge. It will keep for about a week, and the quality will decline after that.

The flesh of the feijoa turns brown (oxidizes) easily. After peeling, dip the fruit into a saltwater solution or water with fresh lemon juice. 

Feijoa fruit is mainly eaten fresh. Cut it in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon, like eating a kiwifruit. 

In Brazil, on the other hand, it's common to find feijoa that is jellied or canned. It's also made into alcoholic drinks and juice.

Feijoa can also be cooked into:

  • Fritters
  • Dumplings
  • Pies
  • Tarts
  • Puddings
  • Pastry fillings
  • Flavoring for ice-cream 

If you have too many fruits, you can make them into:

  • Jam
  • Jelly
  • Sauce
  • Relish
  • Chutney
  • Crystallized fruits
  • Sparkling wine

The thick petals of the plant have a spicy taste and can also be eaten fresh. They can be plucked without damaging the fruit.