I haven’t heard of this fruit before. Honestly.
But those who know it say that it works wonders for the human body. And hence, I began my research.
And here is what I have for you – the benefits of soursop. You need to know them.
What Is Soursop?
Soursop is the fruit of the evergreen tree, Annona muricata. Though the specific origin of this fruit is unknown, it is native to the tropical regions of America. It is often used as the basis for ice creams and other popular sweets.
The fruit is most popular for its cancer-fighting properties and is widely promoted as an alternative cancer treatment. The taste is often related to a combination of pineapple and strawberry – and it also has an underlying creamy flavor, similar to a banana or coconut.
The scientific name of the fruit is the very tree it comes from, Annona muricata. It also is known as guanabana (the Spanish name), cherimoya, corossol, guyabano, and Brazilian paw paw (although subtle differences exist). And graviola, the name by which it is widely known, is the Portuguese reference. Another type of the fruit is the Jamaican soursop, which is native to the Caribbean and Central Americas.
The tree is small and upright, and can grow up to 4 meters tall (13 ft). The leaves are 8 to 16 centimeters long and about 3 centimeters wide. The soursop fruit is dark green. It is ovoid in shape and can be up to 30 centimeters in length.
But why are we talking about all this? Is soursop that good a fruit?
You bet. That’s what research says.
Research is vast. But let’s take a brief look at it for now.
Soursop contains numerous phytonutrients that can fight disease-causing cells and even certain kinds of tumors.
These phytonutrients contain antioxidant properties that enhance the overall health. They help fight cancer, enhance eye health, and treat a range of infections (1).
Even the seeds of the fruit are used for cosmetic purposes. The oil from the seeds cleanses and tones the skin. The leaves of the tree are known to treat ulcers, skin conditions like eczema, and disorders related to weak immunity.
One can get more benefits by drinking soursop tea as well. As per a study published in January 2011, the tea can help prevent cancer. This includes cancers of the throat, colon, ovary, and the lungs.
Why Is Soursop Good For You?
The fruit is popular amongst practitioners of herbal medicine, given its ability to relieve stomach distress, pain, fever, respiratory issues (cough being one of them), and certain other medical conditions.
Soursop is known to contain specific substances with biological activity – the most potent of these being annonacin, which is one of the many compounds that form acetogenins. Acetogenins have been widely studied for their anti-cancer potential.
In one study, soursop compounds were found to be 250 times more effective in killing cancer cells (breast cancer) than certain chemotherapy drugs.
One soursop fruit contains about 15 milligrams of annonacin, and one can of commercially prepared soursop nectar contains 36 milligrams.
Soursop Nutrition Facts
Soursop: Nutritional Value
Soursop contains abundant amounts of vitamin C and several B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin as well as minerals like calcium, phosphorus and a small amount of iron. The fruit comprises of 67.5% pulp, 20% fruit skin, 8.5% fruit seeds and 4% core pieces. Its nutritional value is explained below.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||276 kJ (66 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||3.3 g|
|Thiamine (vit. B1)||0.07 mg (6%)|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||0.05 mg (4%)|
|Niacin (vit. B3)||0.9 mg (6%)|
|Pantothenic acid||0.253 mg (5%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.059 mg (5%)|
|Folate||14 μg (4%)|
|Choline||7.6 mg (2%)|
|Vitamin C||20.6 mg (25%)|
|Calcium||14 mg (1%)|
|Iron||0.6 mg (5%)|
|Magnesium||21 mg (6%)|
|Phosphorus||27 mg (4%)|
|Potassium||278 mg (6%)|
|Sodium||14 mg (1%)|
|Zinc||0.1 mg (1%)|
Benefits Of Soursop
1. Fights Cancer
Though there haven’t been any direct studies on humans, soursop extracts were found to kill certain types of breast and liver cancer cells (2).
According to one study, the soursop plant is a proven cancer remedy for most types of the disease (3). Though the tests haven’t been conducted on humans yet, the possibilities are promising.
In another Indian study conducted on various cell lines, soursop leaves showed 80% cell inhibition. The acetogenins in soursop inhibit the harmful compounds in cancer cells (4).
Soursop extract had also inhibited the survival and metabolism of pancreatic cancer cells – and this indicates potential success in curing the lethal disease (5).
What possibly makes acetogenins unique is their ability to selectively destroy the cancer cells, without harming the healthy ones (6).
2. Improves Eye Health
We have seen soursop is replete with antioxidants. These antioxidants, especially vitamins C and E, zinc, and beta-carotene, have been found to decrease the risk of eye disease. The antioxidants also reduce oxidative stress, which can otherwise cause cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (7).
3. Helps Fight Inflammation
In a Brazilian study, inflammation caused by snakebite was found to improve with the administration of soursop leave and juice (8). However, the components of soursop might also slightly aggravate the ill effects of snake venom – hence, we need more research in this aspect.
Research in South America and tropical Africa had emphasized on the anti-inflammatory properties of the roots, barks, and leaves of the soursop tree (9). The ability to treat inflammation is good in soursop, and it can be used for relieving arthritis.
In addition to the anti-inflammatory effect, soursop is also known for its analgesic effects (10).
4. Helps Treat Infections
Soursop can treat infections caused by bacteria and parasites, one of those being leishmaniasis, a disease caused by parasites that are transmitted through the bites of sand fleas (11).
The leaves of the soursop tree are also used to treat a wide range of infections (12).
5. Aids Diabetes Treatment
According to a Nigerian study, soursop possesses anti-diabetic properties. The two groups of rats tested in the study had a significant difference in their blood glucose concentrations, with the group treated by soursop having lower concentrations than the other (13).
The soursop leaf aqueous extract was found to inhibit (and even prevent) the hepatic oxidative damage caused in diabetes patients (14).
6. Boosts Kidney And Liver Health
As per one Malaysian study, soursop extract was found to be safe in rats that were being treated for kidney and liver ailments (15). Similar observations could be observed in humans as well.
According to another Indian study, the acetogenins in soursop can kill the malignant cells of 12 types of cancer, with liver cancer being one of them (16).
7. Improves Respiratory Health
One Nigerian study states the efficacy of soursop leaves in treating respiratory conditions like asthma (17).
8. Helps Relieve Stress
As per a report by the University of Connecticut, soursop can be used extensively for the treatment of stress and other issues like depression (18).
9. Improves Skin Health
As per a report published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the extract of soursop leaves can help prevent skin papilloma, a disease that causes tumor eruptions on the skin (19).
In fact, soursop is so good for the skin that the leaves of the plant are used for calming the skin of babies (20).
10. Enhances Gastrointestinal Health
Soursop is also found to have antiulcer properties. The fruit suppresses oxidative damage and preserves the mucus of the gastric wall (21). The significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit can help improve gastrointestinal health.
In one Brazilian study, the anthelmintic (the ability to kill parasites) properties of soursop leaf extract were studied (22). They studied the effects of a parasitic worm that caused gastrointestinal issues in sheep. The objective of the study was to inspect the effects of soursop towards the eggs and adult forms of the parasite. The study concluded that soursop is a natural anthelmintic, and since it could kill the parasites in sheep that caused them gastrointestinal issues, it might have similar effects in humans. More research is going on, though.
As per another report, excessive doses of oral iron can lead to gastrointestinal issues. Though soursop is a source of iron, the mineral content in the fruit is not as much as other ingredients – hence, it is unlikely to cause gastrointestinal distress. The same fact, again, could work for the benefit of the individual. For instance, an individual suffering from iron deficiency can be susceptible to anemia, which is known to cause dysfunction of the gastrointestinal system. Though soursop is not an excellent source of iron, it does contain iron – and hence can be a healthy addition to an iron-rich diet to combat anemia (and the resultant gastrointestinal problems) (23).
11. Boosts The Immune System
A Korean study states that the intake of soursop can enhance immunity. This can be attributed to the bioactive compounds in the fruit. Oral intake of soursop leaf extracts was found to reduce edema in rat paws, which is usually caused due to a weak immune system (24). The study concludes by stating that soursop leaf extract has the potential to stimulate immunity, and hence can be used in the treatment of immunocompromised patients. Soursop can also be made a part of the diet to improve the overall lifestyle quality.
The juice of the soursop fruit was found to provide more micronutrients than its pulp. But the pulp has more amount of vitamin A than the juice. Soursop is also rich in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) that strengthens and boosts the immune system (25). Beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, also contributes to an enhanced immune system.
Another report published in a journal by The University of West Indies talks about a study where patients with different forms of cancer were given different foods, soursop being one of them. The objective of the experiment, as stated in the report, was to enhance the immune system of the patients (26).
12. Relieves Pain (Works As An Analgesic)
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, soursop can work as an analgesic. The mice used in the study were made to writhe, post which the soursop extract was induced in them. The experiment produced desirable results (27).
13. Treats Fever
The soursop fruit has been traditionally used to treat fever. In Africa, a decoction of soursop leaves is used to control feverish symptoms and convulsive seizures. In fact, the larvae of the Aedes aegypti mosquito (which transmit dengue fever), showed great vulnerability towards soursop extract (28).
As per an Indian study, the soursop fruit and its juice can not only treat fever, but also act as an astringent for diarrhea and dysentery (29). The fruit can help treat fever in children as well; soursop is widely used for this purpose in Africa (30).
14. Treats Diarrhea
All parts of the soursop tree are used as medicine for an array of ailments. And diarrhea is one of them.
15. Aids In The Treatment Of Hypertension
Soursop has been used in folklore for treating hypertension. This can be attributed to the antioxidant potential of phenols in the fruit, according to a Nigerian study (31).
As per an Indonesian study report, soursop contains good nutrients that can help lower blood pressure levels in human adults (32).
16. Helps Treat Rheumatism
According to studies, the internal administration of soursop leaf decoction was found to exhibit anti-rheumatic properties. And the leaves, when cooked and topically applied, helped ease rheumatism and abscesses (33).
In Africa, the unripe fruit of soursop is used to treat rheumatism and arthritic pain (34). Even the mashed leaves of the soursop tree are used as a poultice to treat rheumatism.
Soursop also contains anthocyanins, tannins, and alkaloids that exhibit anti-rheumatic effects.
That’s with the benefits of soursop. And now, we proceed to something more interesting:
1. Soursop Milkshake
What You Need
- A cup of milk
- 1/2 cup of soursop pulp
- 7-8 ice cubes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of pistachio, for garnish
- Cut the soursop fruit into half. Scoop the pulp out and remove the seeds.
- Add all the ingredients to a blender and make a smoothie.
- Pour the smoothie into a serving glass.
- Garnish with pistachios.
When you grind the ice cubes along with the other ingredients, you get a perfectly chilled smoothie. You can even add nuts to the smoothie – it instantly becomes more nutritious and delectable.
2. Chilled Soursop Drink
What You Need
- 1 soursop fruit, peeled, cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- Work in batches. Press the soursop chunks against a fine mesh strainer using the back of a spoon or a ladle. Let the juice fall into a bowl.
- Add the other ingredients to the bowl and whisk thoroughly. Pour the drink into a pitcher and refrigerate it.
3. Soursop Tea
What You Need
- 2 to 3 soursop leaves (the younger ones, which have a lighter shade of green)
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- Add the water to a pot and bring it to a boil.
- Tear the leaves into smaller pieces.
- Place the leaves in your tea cup and pour boiling water in it. Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- You can drink the tea warm or cold. Add honey if you want it a little sweet.
4. Soursop Ice Cream
What You Need
- 1 cup of cream
- 3 cups of soursop pulp
- 1/4 cup of inverted sugar syrup
- 1 1/2 cups of fresh milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice
- Eggs, as required
- In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, place the pulp, cream, and milk. Wait until it boils. Keep stirring to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the pot.
- Remove from the heat.
- Whip the eggs along with the inverted sugar syrup until it turns creamy.
- Mix the soursop cream with the egg cream. Heat until it boils again. Keep stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
- Whip the entire mixture with a hand mixer until it turns creamy.
- Let it cool down. Place it in a glass container and put it in the freezer.
- Every hour, remove from the freezer and whip quickly, and then return it to the freezer. Repeat this 4 to 5 times. The mixture must attain the consistency of ice cream.
- You can refrigerate the ice cream in a glass container (must be sealed).
You can prepare the inverted sugar syrup using 2 pounds of sugar, 2 cups of water, and 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Mix all the ingredients and bring them to a boil. Remove the cover and let it cool completely.
As we saw, soursop is available in other forms too. You can buy soursop juice from here. And if you intend to take soursop supplements, you can find them here. And yes, you can buy soursop online here.
But a suggestion – if you are buying the fruit, it is best you head to the nearest fruit market. This is where you can touch and feel the fruit. And talking about touching and feeling, and storing…
Selection And Storage
Choose fruits with dark green skin. They also must have numerous fleshy spines on the surface. Avoid fruits with bruises or blemishes on the skin.
Storing is simpler.
Store the unripe fruit at room temperature. Once the fruit is ripe, store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
And eating the fruit is quite fun! All you have to do is cut the fruit in half using a kitchen knife. Scoop the insides with a spoon, and eat your way to glory!
Ah well, we have seen the rosy part of the fruit till now. Now it’s time to peer at the other side.
- Eye Inflammation
The seeds and bark of the soursop tree are considered toxic. They contain potentially poisonous compounds like anonaine, hydrocyanic acid, and muricine. These can cause eye inflammation (35).
- Issues With Pregnancy And Breastfeeding
Pregnant women are advised against consuming this fruit. This is because the high energy in the cells of the developing fetus can trigger the fruit’s toxic activity – potentially harming the baby and the mother, with the baby at a greater risk.
Using soursop while pregnant or breastfeeding is unsafe (36). So, stay away from it.
- Drastic Weight Loss
As per a study, consuming soursop had resulted in drastic weight loss in the mice that were involved in the experiment (37). Similar effects can be observed in humans. Hence, consult your doctor if you are planning to take soursop for any issue specifically related to your bodyweight.
- Parkinson’s Disease
As per one French study, consuming soursop can result in the development of Parkinson’s disease (38).
We know you have more questions. Check out the FAQs.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
Is cherimoya the same as soursop?
They both are cousins. And there is a slight difference. The cherimoya tree has low spreading branches, and its fruits are 4 to 8 inches long – while the soursop tree has low bushy branches that produces fruits 4 to 12 inches in length.
How to tell if a soursop is ripe?
A ripe soursop has softened spines and it attains a yellowish-green color.
How long does it take to grow a soursop (graviola) tree?
The soursop crop takes 3 to 5 years to grow into a tree.
How long does a soursop tree take to bear fruit?
There is insufficient information on this. But the fruit takes 4 to 5 days to ripen after picked. And a tree produced about two dozen fruits a year.
Soursop shows there is a lot of healthful stuff lurking in nature. We just need to search and pick and savor it.
I assume you would do that with soursop. Because trust me, it’s worth it.
Tell us how this post has helped you. Do comment in the box below.
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