Also known as graviola, soursop (Annona muricata) is a large prickly, heart shaped green colored fruit growing in tropical regions. It is covered with ridges on the outside and has a soft juicy flesh inside. It resembles a custard apple and is dark green when raw. As it ripens, it becomes slightly soft and light green externally. Thus, this fruit is closely related to custard apple and cherimoyas in terms of appearance and flavor. Its white pulpy flesh contains small shiny black inedible seeds and has a sweet, acidic taste.
Seedless varieties of soursop are rarely available and generally have a fibrous flesh. Due to its creamy texture, it is often used in beverages, ice creams, and other sweet foods. The skin of the fruit is inedible, but the white fleshy part is quite nutritious. The seeds should never be eaten as they are toxic in nature. The tips of the prickles of ripe soursop fruit break off easily. Under-ripe fruits can be stored in the dark until they ripen fully.
The soursop fruit is known for its medicinal value. It contains certain natural compounds with medicinal benefits which make it beneficial for the treatment of various ailments. Recently, it has gained popularity due to the fact that it can kill cancer cells up to 10000 times more effectively than chemotherapy drugs, that too without side effects. In addition to the fruit, the leaves, root, bark and seeds have been incorporated in traditional remedy for centuries. Soursop extracts have therapeutic value and are available in health stores.
Soursop: Health Benefits
Being abundant in vitamins and minerals, soursop offers several health benefits. It is often recommended by the practitioners of herbal medicine to cure various ailments ranging from stomach ailments to intestinal worms.
1. Kills Cancer Cells
Soursop leaves have proven to be effective in killing 12 types of cancer cells, thus preventing colon, breast, prostate, lung and pancreatic cancer. Unlike chemotherapy, they can attack cancer cells without any side effects such as nausea, weight loss, hair loss, etc. Moreover, it is 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy and adriamycin in slowing the growth of cancer cells.
For this purpose, 10 old soursop leaves can be boiled in three cups of water until one cup remains. This concoction should be given to the cancer patient twice a day for two weeks to get noticeable results. The fruit contains annanaceous acetogenins which can stop the growth of damaged cells before they become cancerous and are particularly beneficial in fighting breast cancer. Soursop leaves not only kill abnormal cancer cells but also allow cells to grow normally.
2. Prevents Osteoporosis
Soursop fruit contains calcium and phosphorus which are beneficial for strong bones and help to prevent osteoporosis.
3. Increases Energy And Endurance
Soursop has a high content of fructose, a simple sugar (monosachharide). Being a good natural source of carbohydrates, it can keep you fresh and drain energy. This fruit also increases endurance because of its high vitamin C content.
4. Beneficial For Heart And Prevents Nerve Damage
Vitamin B1 in soursop accelerates metabolism, blood circulation and prevents nervous disorders. It also contains vitamin B2, which is vital for the body’s energy production, fat storage, the functioning of nervous system and maintenance of heart muscle.
5. Treatment Of Hemorrhoid And Infant Diarrhea
Soursop is effective in curing hemorrhoid. For this purpose, squeeze the fruit to take out at least one cup water and drink it twice a day in the morning and afternoon for relief. In case of infant diarrhea, 2-3 tablespoons of this water should be given to infants.
6. Relieves Constipation
Since the fruit is rich in soluble and insoluble fibers, it relieves constipation by adding bulk to stool and facilitating its easy elimination from the body.
7. Natural Diuretic
The flesh of this fruit is nearly 84% water which hydrates your body. It acts as a natural diuretic to treat edema or retention of water.
8. Promotes Sleep
Soursop fruit contains a chemical called tryptophan which promotes sleepiness and relaxation. It is, thus, beneficial for insomniacs. Soursop leaves are often used in aromatherapy and infusions for sleep. Soursop fruit helps in controlling blood pressure and hypertension.
9. Treatment Of Urinary Tract Infections
Due to its high moisture content, soursop is effective in treating and preventing urinary tract infections (UTI), urethritis and hematuria. The juice of the fruit can be taken orally in case of urethritis, hematuria, and liver ailments.
10. Kills Parasites Inside The Body
Soursop is loaded with nutrients which are vital for the overall development of the body. The nutrients like amino acids, ascorbic acid, calcium, carbohydrates, iron, phosphorus, thiamine, fibers, and riboflavin can inhibit parasites inside the body.
11. Benefits Of Vitamin C
Soursop fruit has a high content of vitamin C, which is an excellent antioxidant. It increases endurance and slows down the aging process.
12. Fights Free Radicals
The ascorbic acid in soursop fruit increases the amount of antioxidants in the body which play an important role in fighting the free radicals, thereby keeping a number of infections and disorders at bay.
13. Relieves Pain
The leaves of soursop plant are believed to have analgesic properties which can relieve pain. These leaves are often chewed or applied to open wounds. Their juice is effective in healing the wound while relieving pain from injury. In case of excess pain, boil 20 soursop leaves in 5 cups of water until 3 cups are left and drink ¾ cup of this concoction once in a day for relief.
14. Treatment Of Mouth Ulcers
If you are suffering from mouth ulcers, you can mash a soursop leaf with water and apply it on the boils. This will gradually decrease the size of the ulcers to cure them completely as well as reduce irritation.
15. Treatment Of Fever
Tea made from soursop helps to lower the body temperature. In Africa, children were often bathed in soursop leaves to cure fever.
16. Strengthens The Immune System
Soursop fruit contains substances like acetogenins, anncatacin, annocatalin, annonacin, annohexocin, annomuricin, anomurine, anonol, gentistic acid, linoleic acid, and muricarpentocin which enable our body to stay fit and improve immunity against various diseases.
17. Treatment Of Hypertension
Soursop has a high ratio of potassium (278mg/100g) to sodium (14mg/100 g), which makes it beneficial for those suffering from hypertension.
A decoction made from young shoots or leaves is a natural remedy for gall bladder trouble as well as coughs, catarrh, dysentery, fever, and indigestion. Soursop flowers can alleviate catarrh. It is also used in the treatment of gallstones, antisembelit, uric acid as well as increases appetite.
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19. Effective For Back Pain
You can now bid adieu to your favorite anti-inflammatory and analgesic over the counter drugs to ward off back pain. Take the help of soursop leaf tea. Make sure the tea is a concentrated one. Drink about ¾ cup of concentrated tea once a day to ensure quick relief. You can also use it as a topical application for easing back pain.
20. Natural Cure For Arthritis And Rheumatism
Topical application of this infusion is known to ease the pain and inflammation experienced due to arthritis and rheumatism. You can dip a clean cloth in warm tea and apply it on the affected area, twice a day, to enjoy better relief.
21. Helps Control Diabetes
Studies suggest that the nutrients present in this herbal tea can help in retaining the sugar levels in blood, which is beneficial for those who are under the siege of Type 2 diabetes.
22. Good for Your Liver
The tea made from soursop leaves is known to be a liver tonic. Along with easing the liver disorders, it also shields the liver. It is also ideal to treat diseases affecting gallbladder, including gallstones.
A Word Of Caution
Excessive intake of soursop tea is known to trigger neurological damages, in turn leading to Parkinson’s disease. Studies also suggest that pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using this tea to prevent putting their health in jeopardy.
The quality of your skin determines your appearance to a great extent. A flawless and glowing skin depends on the intake of nutrients. However, deficiency of vital nutrients and exposure to harsh chemicals and pollution can cause various skin problems. Soursop is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants which are good for skin. Thus, it is beneficial for your skin in the following ways.
23. Treatment Of Skin Eruptions
Soursop has great healing qualities. Applying fresh leaves on skin eruptions facilitates quick healing. Boils are skin problems that occur all over your body causing immense pain. Soursop leaves are a natural remedy for treating them. Placing some fresh soursop leaves on the affected areas can heal them.
24. Heals Wounds
The fleshy part of the soursop fruit can be applied as a poultice on the cut or wounded area for at least 3 days. This will not only accelerate the healing process but also prevent bacterial infections. A decoction of soursop leaves is beneficial for treating inflammation and swollen feet.
25. Treatment Of Eczema And Other Skin Problems
Mashed leaves of soursop can be used as a poultice to alleviate eczema and other skin problems. The juice of soursop when taken while fasting can treat leprosy.
26. Anti-Aging Benefits
As stated earlier, soursop is a rich source of vitamin C and ascorbic acid which increases the amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants play an important role in fighting the free radicals which are responsible for aging of the skin. By eliminating free radicals, they significantly reduce the signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation.
[ Read: Cucumber on Eyes ]
Soursop: Hair Benefits
As we all know, healthy hair is an indication of a healthy body as hair follicles also require an adequate supply of nutrients for their growth and maintenance. Deficiency of certain vital vitamins, minerals and nutrients can cause hair problems like thinning, dandruff, hair loss, premature graying, etc. In general, the nutritional value of soursop is favorable for healthy hair.
27. Treatment Of Head Lice
Soursop leaves are quite effective in keeping parasites at bay. Head lice are one of these which multiply quickly, thus adversely affecting hair health. A decoction made from soursop leaves can be applied to your scalp to get rid of head lice.
[ Read: Spinach Benefits ]
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%)|
- Carbohydrates: After water, soursop has the highest content of carbohydrates. The carbohydrate in this fruit is in the form of a reducing sugar i.e. glucose and fructose which make up 81.9 to 93.6% of the total sugar content.
- Fat: This fruit is good for our health as it contains very little fat. 100 grams of this fruit provides just 0.3 grams of fat.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is the most dominant of all vitamins in soursop fruit. 100 grams of fruit flesh provides about 20 mg of this vitamin. The recommended daily requirement per person of vitamin C is 60 mg which can be fulfilled by consuming 300 grams of soursop fruit.
- Fiber: Soursop fruit is rich in dietary fiber containing 3.3 grams per 100 grams of flesh which is equivalent to 13% of the recommended daily requirement. Fiber is great for digestion and detoxification.
- Minerals: The most dominant minerals are phosphorus and calcium. 100 grams of soursop fruit provides 27 mg and 14 mg of phosphorus and calcium respectively. Soursop has low sodium content, providing 14 mg per 100 grams but it is high in potassium which is 278 mg per 100 grams. This high potassium and low sodium ratio is particularly beneficial in preventing hypertension.
- Others: Soursop is also rich in phytochemical compounds. It derives its sour taste from several non-volatile acids such as malic acid, citric acid, and acid isocitrate. It is rich in fatty compounds called acetogenins particularly annonacin and other compounds like quinolones, annopentocins as well as two alkaloids, coreximine and reticuline. Acetogenins have the potential to slow the growth of cancer cells. Certain compounds are antiviral and antiparasitic which can suppress inflammation.
Hence, we find that soursop is loaded with nutrients with almost all parts of this plant possessing medicinal value. This fruit can suitably form part of your diet as a fruit, side dish, beverage and dessert to give you multiple health benefits.