Feijoa: The Healthiest Fruit You’ve Never Heard Of

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

Maybe it’s because I love to cook. Or maybe it’s because I believe so strongly that the things we eat every day can make or break our health. But I like to keep an eye on what’s new with food—nutritional research, production methods, and diet trends.

I especially enjoy learning about foods that I haven’t heard of before, like the one I’m about to share with you. It’s called feijoa (pronounced FEE-joh-ah), and it’s a fragrant, egg-shaped fruit  from South America. It’s packed with nutrients and fiber, and it just may have the potential to join my list of superfood fruits.

My favorite super fruits—tomatoes, olives (and its cousin, extra virgin olive oil), avocadoscoconut, and pomegranate—have all earned that title because they promote good health in many ways. Chief among them is their ability to reduce inflammation in the body. Tomatoes and olives, for example, are loaded with free radical–fighting antioxidants; avocados are one of my favorite sources of fiber; and coconut is rich in medium-chain triglycerides, a healthy fat that’s not as prone to oxidation as others are.

And feijoa? Let’s take a look at what it brings to the table…

What Is Feijoa?

The feijoa (feijoa sellowiana, or acca sellowiana) is a shrub-like evergreen plant native to Brazil and parts of Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, though it’s now popular in New Zealand and other parts of the world.

Taste-wise, feijoa has been described as a cross between pineapple and guava, or pineapple and strawberry—with a hint of mint or apple thrown in. Hence its nickname, “Pineapple Guava.” As far as appearance goes, feijoas look similar to avocados, and you select them in much the same way. You’ll know a feijoa is ripe when it’s bright green and slightly soft. (For more on selecting feijoas, here’s a good video)

How you eat feijoa is up to you. In New Zealand, where it’s a part of summertime life, the preferred way is to simply scoop it from the rind with a spoon. But you can also mix it in salads, smoothies, and other recipes.

Feijoa Supports Healthy Digestion

I’m listing this health benefit of feijoa first because I’m always on the lookout for new and flavorful ways to up my fiber intake. This definitely fits the bill. Per 100 grams, feijoa is almost as rich in fiber as avocado! Avocados, of course, are one of my top sources of fiber.

Fiber is essential for two big reasons. One is that it keeps us regular.

Regularity may be the butt of a lot of jokes (pun intended), but it’s one of the most important ways you excrete waste and toxins from your body. That’s why I talk so much about it. When we’re not so regular, waste and toxins build up and can actually be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. This can lead to all kinds of health issues—some of which you’ll feel, like fatigue, pain, and allergy-type symptoms—and some of which you won’t, like systemic inflammation.

The other reason fiber is so crucial is that it’s food for our good gut bacteria. When those bacteria are strong and healthy, we’re able to absorb more of the nutrients in our food. Plus, healthy gut bacteria are better able to protect the lining of the gut wall, which means the toxins I just mentioned aren’t as likely to slip through and wreak havoc.  

Feijoa Helps the Heart

Whenever I talk about superfoods (and super fruits) supporting the heart, I’m talking about two things: (1) reducing inflammation and (2) supplying the heart with the nutrients it needs to beat efficiently.

On the first point, feijoa is rich in vitamin C. Because of its association with colds and flu, vitamin C tends to get pigeon-holed as an immune health nutrient. But that’s just one way our bodies put it to work. Another is as an antioxidant.

Antioxidants, of course, scavenge the blood for free radicals. This helps reduce oxidative stress in the lining of the arteries. That’s a good thing, too, since the inflammation oxidation causes is the real cause of atherosclerosis, plaque buildup, and heart disease—not cholesterol.

Feijoa also contributes a healthy dose of potassium to the heart and body. Though it’s not an amount on par with bananas or avocados, it is in the ballpark with oranges, which I’ve long recommended as part of my anti-inflammatory Pan Asian Modified Mediterranean (PAMM) diet.

Potassium is one of the minerals, or salts, known as “electrolytes.” (Sodium and magnesium are two other well-known ones.) Electrolytes help regulate muscle function in the body and, as you know, the heart is a big muscle! Potassium not only helps ensure that it keeps beating in a steady, predictable way, but it also influences the smooth muscle function that allows our arteries to dilate and contract as needed. Add it all up, and potassium plays a big role in keeping our blood flowing.

Finally, there’s the fiber in feijoas and its impact on cholesterol.

Though I don’t believe high LDL cholesterol is a problem that needs to be medicated, it can be an issue if it gets too high (over 250 mg/dL). In these cases, a reduction helps lower the risk that excess LDL will become oxidized and cause arterial damage. However, there’s still no need for a drug, since eating high-fiber foods like feijoa is associated with improved LDL levels.

Feijoa May Help Improve Mood

A study from a couple years back showed that feijoa extract had a significant antidepressant effect in mice. That doesn’t surprise me much, because feijoa has a fair amount of folate in it—and folate deficiency has been linked with increased risk of depression.

One of the things folate does in the body is neutralize a metabolite called homocysteine. It’s been on my radar for years, because it’s inflammatory in the blood and can negatively affect risk for heart disease. However, it also turns out that homocysteine can interfere with hormones like serotonin, which helps regulate mood and is a target of most pharmaceutical antidepressants.

Feijoa Enhances Immune Function

Finally, I want to call attention to the fact that some research shows feijoa has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

This doesn’t surprise me, either. Plant foods are well known for the phenolic compounds they contain. These substances are the plant’s natural defense system against environmental threats like pests and disease. It just so happens that they function in a similar way in the human body. (They also have potent antioxidant potential.) I’d like to see more research done to identify, specifically, what these compounds are. But for now, feijoa gets a check mark of approval for its ability to help us fight off some truly nasty bugs.

Getting Hold of Feijoa

So now for the $64,000 question—where can you buy it?

Unfortunately, because feijoa is still so unknown to most of the world, it’s not something you can just walk into your local supermarket and find. There are some online retailers that will ship directly to you while the fruit is in season, but it can be expensive. If you run across a reputable seller please share that information in the comments.

Hopefully that will be changing soon as the commercial growers in New Zealand increase their marketing efforts and more people like you learn about their health benefits. In the meantime, get to know the produce manager at your grocery store, and start putting in requests. The voice of their consumer may be just the motivation they need to make a space for this fruit!


© 2017 HeartMD Institute. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply


  1. MillieK

    on October 10, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    I want it ! I want it ! I love both pineapple and guava, but can never find any ripe guava in the marketplace here in Alabama. I would love to buy some, no matter the cost. I will start pressuring the produce manager concerning feijoa. Thank you for this article. —

  2. Miriam Hill

    on October 10, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    I bought two Feijoa trees from Bob and Verna Duncan of “Fruit Trees and More Nursery” on South Vancouver Island. Bob said Feijoa trees can be grown in our climate, but that the bird that pollinates them cannot make it here. He said the secret is two plant two Feijoa’s in the same big hole so they will pollinate each other. Mine are too young to tell if this is working.

  3. Raewyn

    on April 1, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    It’s feijoa season here and I found this accidentally while looking for something else. Someone above said it’s a summer fruit – it’s not, it’s an autumn fruit. Regarding pollination, some trees need a second tree to achieve pollination but many cultivars today are self fertile, and need blackbirds to do the work. There are also early and late fruiting varieties. If you’re getting 2 trees, get one of each for a long season (self fertile ones). Never pick the fruit – let it drop and it will be ready to eat. When you have too much, scoop it out with a spoon and par-cook (6 minutes in the microwave for a big bowl full). Then freeze in portions and make feijoa, apple and walnut crumble all winter. Best of luck finding a tree.

  4. HeartMD Editor

    on April 2, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Hi Raewyn,
    Thank you for sharing all of this interesting information about feijoa fruit with us. Feijoa, apple and walnut crumble sounds delicious!

  5. Alison

    on April 4, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    As a feijoa-loving New Zealander who grows her own (I had 2 trees but that was 1 tree too many!) mine are only just dropping the fruit now (autumn-fall) and most are not yet quite ripe where I live, though further north in NZ where the climate is warmer (yes, this is the Southern hemisphere!), they would be ripe now. So many people have a feijoa tree or two in my city that it is hard to give them away when they start to rain down out of the tree! Where I live, the summer is hot and dry and the winters are frosty. They are quite frost tolerant and will tolerate a certain amount of drought too, but the fruit is bigger if you water them. I’ve heard they don’t like a humid climate, and they must get a decent amount of sun and free-draining soil. Many people with a small garden plant the self-fertilising variety. Mine is pollinated by silvereyes (waxeyes) – a little bird that is native to New Zealand and maybe also Australia. They go for the flower petals which they rip off because they taste sweet (I can vouch for that!). I just eat the fruit raw but the pulp can be scooped out and frozen. Feijoa crumble pudding is nice, and they make a very fast-setting jam!

  6. HeartMD Editor

    on April 5, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Hi Alison,
    How lucky you and your neighbors are to have an abundance of feijoa fruit!

  7. Sandra.

    on May 7, 2018 at 12:46 am

    I live in Tasmania and have one Feijoa tree which is fruiting at the moment, autumn. My tree took about 12 years to fruit, but I bought it as a very small baby plant. The fruit are increasing in size and number every year. They are extremely yummy !

  8. Kay

    on August 17, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Hi feijoa grow well here in South Australia but not well known yet. We have trouble keeping the Possums away, they love the fruit and nearly stripped the tree. It must be good because we have the healthiest, most fertile possums around but they left enough fruit for us to make a delicious salsa with chopped red onion, chopped feijoa and raw sugar.

  9. Lorraine

    on August 17, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    I am in NZ we love feijoa and kiwifruit jam and use the whole fruit in this (they freeze well whole). I wonder if any nutritional properties are lost when they are cooked?

  10. Karyn

    on April 22, 2020 at 5:40 am

    I am in southern Australia and have three feijoa trees which I planted as a small hedge 6 years ago. They began fruiting in their second year after planting out from small pots. Now in their 4th season they are absolutely covered in fruit which is just starting to drop now (Autumn). Feijoas are definitely my favourite fruit and I think everyone with a garden or room for a large pot should have one of these amazing fruiting plants growing.

  11. Marilyn

    on April 24, 2020 at 9:41 pm

    Oh yes I love feijoas. I live just south of Christchurch, New Zealand. I have two trees and they are providing fruit to share. Definitely a fruit people love or do not like. Interesting to read of the value nutrition wise.

  12. Sandi bergeron

    on April 27, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    Glad you are enjoy them and are able to share!

  13. Alan Scott

    on May 9, 2021 at 1:03 am

    We have a feijoa tree called Unique which gives us small/medium-sized fruit-delicious! And my wife bakes Feijoa loaf similar to Banana bread. Buttered, it is irresistible! However, our second-year Wikitu species delivers fruit the size of a woman’s open hand. These are even more tasty than Unique so I would recommend it without hesitation. The best thing is that both are dwarf trees so excellent for small gardens. Unique is also self-fertilizing. We are addicted to this fruit.

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