By Adebukola Aluko
When you see an oval green fruit with spikes on the outside, and a soft, white pulp on the inside, what comes to mind is the soursop fruit.
Soursop is a member of the Annonaceae family, the fruits, which grow on trees, are large and oval-shaped. The green exterior, which has spines on it, covers a white, fibrous flesh which grow up to 8 inches and can weigh up to 10 pounds.
Also known as graviola, custard apple and Brazilian pawpaw, soursop is a tropical fruit native to Central and South America. Soursop (Annona muricata) and is a tangy and edible fruit, cultivated and grown in evergreen regions. The fruit is largely exported to other countries such as Italy and Nigeria, where it’s used in various foods and drinks, as well herbal medicines.
In Nigeria, Yoruba call soursop ebo or apekan, sawansop by Ibo, and fasadarur or tuwon biri by the Hausa.
The exact origin of soursop is unknown, but it has been cultivated in South America and Africa for thousands of years. It can also be found in Asia, by the name of “sirsak”.
Soursops are mostly available year-round in tropical climates. Every region varies with specific availability, but the fruit’s peak season generally occurs from spring through the late fall.
It tastes sweet and is slightly acidic, and can be consumed raw or used in smoothies, desserts, and juices. In addition to the pulp, soursop leaves are also used to prepare tea.
Soursop is a source of fiber that decreases the rate at which sugar is absorbed from foods. This can help to manage blood sugar levels and prevent insulin resistance and diabetes.
This fruit also contains high amounts of vitamin C and flavonoids, which are compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help to combat free radicals and reduce inflammation. It can be used to relieve gastric problems (like ulcers and gastritis) and prevent the development of health conditions like high blood pressure and cataracts.
Broader Health and Nutritional Information
Relieving Anti-Inflammatory Diseases
Soursop contains anti-inflammatory properties that prevents the reduction of inflammation-producing cytokines. These are generated by the body in the presence of inflammation. This fruit can therefore be useful for the relieve of symptoms of inflammatory diseases, like arthritis, arthrosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Learn more about naturally anti-inflammatory foods you can add to your diet.
Soursop contains great amounts of antioxidants that protect the pancreatic cells that are responsible for the production if insulin. This helps to prevent insulin resistance and diabetes.
Furthermore, soursop is a great source of fibers, which decrease how quickly sugar is absorbed. This can help to regulate glucose levels in the blood, which can help to control diabetes in people who have already been diagnosed with it.
Maintain Eye Health
Because it contains lutein, an antioxidant compound that is important for eye health, soursop helps to decrease the development of illnesses like cataracts and macular degeneration. These conditions are associated with aging and cause eye damage, leading to vision loss.
Protecting the Stomach
Soursop contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which reduce damage caused by free radicals in the stomach. This promotes a reduction in stomach acid production, making this fruit beneficial for protecting the stomach, improving digestion, and help to manage some diseases, like ulcers and gastritis.
Improving Stress and Anxiety
Soursop leaves contain anonaine and asimilobine, compounds that soothing properties that act on the central nervous system. These compounds interact with serotonin (a neurotransmittor responisble for mood regulation), which can improve mood, stress and anxiety. Read more about other home remedies for gastritis that you can prepare to relieve symptoms.
Regulating Blood Pressure
Soursop contains potassium, an mineral that is essential for the body’s elimination of sodium through the urine. Potassium is also important for blood pressure management.
In addition, this fruit also contains antioxidants which promote arterial health and act as a vasodilator. It helps to promote blood circulation, which can also influence blood pressure. Check out other natural home remedies for blood pressure that can complement your medical treatment.
Strengthening the Immune System
Because it is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, like vitamin C and quercetin, soursop helps to manage excess free radicals and strengthen immune system cells. This helps to prevent allergies, colds and flu.
Soursop helps to combat constipation because it is rich in water and fibers. These components promote natural bowel movements and add bulk to the stool, which facilitate stool elimination. See a list of other naturally laxative fruits that can facilitate regular bowel movements.
Maintaining Hydration in the Body
Soursop pulp contains about 82 g of water, which can significantly hydrate the body. It is often consumed in hot environments or during exercise, which helps to prevent dehydration.
Possibly Prevent Cancer
Recent studies show that soursop is rich in acerogenins, which are a group of metabolic compounds that have a cytotoxic effect that targets cancerous cells. In addition, it was noted in some studies that consuming soursop on a long-term basis can help to prevent and treat many types of cancer, like breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.
Nonetheless, these studies have only been done in lab settings with isolated cells and animals. More studies are needed in humans to support the possible effect of this fruit on cancerous cells.
The following table outlines the nutritional information in 100 g of soursop:
|Components||100 g of soursop|
|Vitamin C||19.1 mg|
|Folic acid||14 mcg|
To obtain all the benefits that soursop has to offer, it is important to include it in a healthy, balanced diet and to exercise regularly.
How to consume
Soursop can be consumed in its natural state, or used in other recipes for juices, mousses and ice cream. Soursop leaves can also be used to make tea.
- Soursop tea: Place 10 g of dried soursop leaves in 1 liter of boiling water. Cover and allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain and drink up to 3 cups per day, after meals.
- Soursop juice: In a blender, place 1 cup of soursop pulp (diced and without seeds), 500 mL of water and 1 teaspoon of brown sugar (or sweetener). Blend until well-combined, then serve.
Another way to consume soursop is through capsule supplements. Dosing varies between manufacturers, although the general recommended dose is 2 capsules per day, 30 minutes before meals. Soursop can cause some side effects; therefore, it is important to take it as directed a doctor or medicinal plant specialist.
Possible Side Effects
Some toxic effects, like kidney damage or death, can occur with very high doses of soursop leaves. These effects will only evolve, however, if you drink over 70 cups of this tea.
The development of neurodegenerative disease from consumption (like Parkinson’s disease) are associated with excessive, long-term consumption of soursop, although studies on this matter are not conclusive  .
Soursop should only be consumed by pregnant or breastfeeding women under the guidance of a doctor, as there are not studies available that confirm its safety in these populations.
This fruit is not recommended for people with Parkinson’s disease or low blood pressure. People who take medications for depression, high blood pressure and diabetes should communicate soursop use to their doctor before taking it, as this fruit can interfere with the effects of these medications.
Additional Information from Medical News Today