Last Updated on November 27, 2020
They say that food is medicine and that for every human ailment, there is a corresponding herb, vegetable, or fruit that has the power to cure it.
History tells us that it was Hippocrates who first introduced the idea of using food as medicine, but he definitely wasn’t the first one who thought of it. Earlier records have shown evidence of man using nature’s bounty not just for nourishment, but also for healing.
Perhaps the human race had always known that the secret to better health lies within the food that they consume. Thanks to this nugget of wisdom, humans continued to search for medical solutions in nature.
We’ve certainly learned a lot throughout the years but thanks to modern technology, we dug deeper and discovered more potential cures to some of the world’s deadliest diseases today.
One of the many medical wonders of nature is the soursop. It’s hard to think that this delicious tropical fruit can be used as medicine. It doesn’t taste as bitter and unpleasant as most pills and tablets.
What you get instead is a multitude of flavors, somewhat like a marriage between a pineapple and a strawberry, but with a hint of muskiness. More importantly, the soursop is filled with minerals and nutrients.
If you haven’t tried this deliciously healthy fruit, read on below to find out more about it and its numerous health benefits.
What is Soursop?
First thing’s first—what is soursop? The soursop is known scientifically as Annona muricata, but is also commonly known as graviola. It used to be exclusively native to the central and southern regions of the Americas.
But today, they are also cultivated and enjoyed locally in various Southeast Asian countries.
Many describe the soursop as a fruit with a prickly outer layer of skin, and it is primarily yellow to green in color. Inside, it’s white with a smooth and creamy texture that’s comparable to that of an avocado or passion fruit.
Many often mistake the soursop for the jackfruit or durian. Although they come from the same family of fruits, they all have a distinct difference in flavor.
Nutritional Content in Soursop
One of the biggest nutritional assets of the soursop is the fact that it is low in calories but packed with tons of vitamins and minerals at the same time. A 100-gram serving of soursop contains only 66 calories, making it a perfect fruity snack option for those trying to lose weight.
100 grams of raw soursop also yields the following nutrients: fiber, protein, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and thiamine. Smaller amounts of iron, folate, riboflavin, and niacin can also be found in soursop.
Having said all this, the soursop is undeniably filled with nutritious vitamins and minerals that are essential for the body. Find out how these nutritional contents can help the body achieve optimal health below.
8 Health Benefits of Soursop
1. Prevents Infections
Soursop, or graviola, is popularly known for its ability to cure an infection that’s triggered by bacteria or parasites. One such condition is leishmaniasis, an illness that is contracted by the bite of sand fleas.
Herpes is another one of such conditions where soursop may present itself to be a viable cure. Additionally, soursop can ease vomiting, coughing, and fevers caused by bacterial and viral infections.
2. Fights Against Cancer
Soursop is one of a limited number of fruits that are said to have cancer-fighting properties. The soursop owes it all to its antioxidant properties—specifically from its acetogenins, alkaloids, and quinolones. These antioxidant components are known for their ability to reduce the size of tumors, essentially reducing the effects of cancer.
Moreover, acetogenins are unique to Annonaceae plants. As part of this plant family, the soursop is highly regarded as one of the most powerful fruits in possibly treating cancer.
Medical scientists have found that its leaves are far more potent than the soursop fruit itself. A study suggests that soursop leaves are very effective in fighting against the spreading of breast cancer cells in patients.
As we’ve learned earlier, the leaves of the soursop plant show promising results in fighting off cancer. But in addition to that, they also have antimicrobial characteristics that may provide a safer alternative to commercially-available anti-infection treatments.
Sodium hypochlorite, a type of bleach, is commonly used today for the irrigation of the root canal while also serving as protection from infection. Unfortunately, such chemicals are dangerous to the body.
Thankfully, one study published in the Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice states that the soursop is the better alternative to sodium hypochlorite.
Along with its ability to treat infections, soursop is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Research conducted in Brazil involving animals may be able to support these claims.
Although human participants were not involved in the study, it seems that there are quite a handful of people who have a positive reaction towards soursop. That said, those who have gout or arthritis may benefit from the soothing and healing capabilities of the soursop.
5. Promotes Gastrointestinal Health
Earlier, we learned that the soursop contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help cure gout our arthritis. But did you know that your gut can also benefit from the alkaloid and quinolones content of soursop?
These components don’t just fight inflammation, but they also kill off the parasites living in your gut, consequently treating pain or irritation in the stomach.
Moreover, due to its high vitamin C content, the soursop fruit is commonly used to treat scurvy and dysentery.
According to medical experts, the soursop is a powerful diuretic that can help eliminate toxins from the body by cleansing the gastrointestinal tract.
6. Contains Antioxidants
We’ve discovered earlier that the soursop contains unique antioxidants that can fight against cancer. However, the list of antioxidants doesn’t end there. The soursop is rich in phytonutrients that contain an even more abundant number of antioxidants.
Just to name a few, compounds such as flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, lactones, and coumarins can be naturally found in the soursop and all of them are said to have the power to combat various diseases.
In addition, several studies also suggest that the antioxidants present in the soursop can help treat eye disease. According to the National Eye Institute, the soursop plant contains vitamin C and E, zinc, and beta carotene—all of which can help reduce macular degeneration by 25%.
7. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Interestingly, the soursop fruit also has the ability to regulate blood glucose levels after a meal. The phenols in soursop inhibit the enzymes responsible for increasing blood glucose levels, therefore keeping the body’s glucose at normal levels in the process.
A study also reports that the extract from the soursop’s leaves can also enhance the growth of pancreatic cells. These cells are responsible for producing insulin which, in turn, helps in maintaining the balance of the body’s glucose levels.
Additionally, those with high blood pressure, hypertension, or type-2 diabetes can also benefit from the phenolic compounds found in soursop.
Apart from inhibiting enzymes related to these conditions, the phenols present in soursop stimulates the receptiveness of the body to insulin. Those with diabetes can definitely use the extra boost in insulin to combat their condition.
8. Good for Insomnia
One of the more interesting health benefits of the soursop is its ability to possibly treat insomnia. For many centuries, soursop tea has been used as a way to relieve stress. The anti-inflammatory properties of soursop can help regulate stress hormones that hinder the body’s natural metabolic cycles.
Consequently, soursop tea can help in reducing anxiety while also inducing sleep. That being said, those with insomnia can greatly benefit from the soothing properties of the soursop tea.
How to Enjoy Soursop
Despite its long history of existence in the world, the soursop is still considered as an exotic fruit to many. However, this doesn’t mean that it is hard to enjoy the soursop fruit. Its rich and distinct flavor is easy to like and thanks to its creamy texture, incorporating soursop in meals and desserts is easy.
To fully enjoy the soursop, there are a few rules to follow. The first is to pick fully ripe soursop. When eating the fruit raw, simply cut the fruit lengthwise and with a spoon, scoop the fruit from its rind.
It is important to avoid the seeds of the soursop as it contains harmful components such as neurotoxins and annonacin, which are said to cause Parkinson’s disease.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy soursop. If you are a fan of sweet treats, you can enjoy the soursop fruit as is, or you can blend them together to create juices, smoothies, ice cream, or even sorbets.
In some parts of the world, it is not uncommon to find soursop soups and salads. If you are a fan of more savory type foods, you might want to give them a try.