What is Soursop?
Soursop is a South American fruit that is both delicious and nutritious. It has been used as food and medicine by native people for centuries.
About 140 years ago, soursop began to make its way to North America and is now becoming popular in countries outside of its native region. Some are even calling it a "super fruit" because of how nutrient-filled it is.
Here's more information about this unique fruit, including the top benefits of soursop fruit and leaf.
Soursop (Annona muricata) goes by many names: graviola, guanabana, custard apple, and Brazilian paw paw. It grows on trees that are native to certain regions of South America and the Caribbean.
In appearance, soursop looks a lot like an avocado with spikes. It has a tough, green outer skin with spines and white flesh that contains large black seeds.
The flavor of soursop is often described as a combination of pineapple and strawberry with hints of mango or citrus. The texture is thick, creamy, and reminiscent of a banana.
While soursop fruits are often enjoyed fresh as food, the leaves have traditionally been used for medicinal purposes. They can be made into a tea or prepared as a topical application for a variety of issues.
What are the Benefits of Soursop?
Full of Nutrients and Antioxidants
Like other tropical fruits, soursop is filled with an array of nutrients and antioxidants.
Most notably, just one soursop fruit (which is on the large side) contains about 215% of the daily value for vitamin C! The fruit also contains good amounts of potassium, magnesium, iron, and certain B vitamins, plus a great amount of fiber to help "keep you regular".
In addition, soursop fruit and leaves contain powerful antioxidants like quercetin, luteolin, and epicatechin gallate that may help prevent certain diseases and protect DNA from damage. (1)
Provides Immune Support
Boosting your immune system with herbs and certain foods is a good practice to get into, especially during cold and flu season.
Soursop can provide a lot of support for the immune system simply because of the large amount of vitamin C it contains. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for immune function as a whole and may even help shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections. (2)
There may also be benefits of soursop leaf to boost immunity as some research has shown that an extract from the leaves can enhance immune system activity. (3)
Chronic, low-level inflammation is now thought to be a contributor to many serious diseases, including cancer and autoimmune disorders. (4)
Antioxidants, like those found in soursop, are some of the most powerful compounds we know of for calming persistent inflammation and hopefully reducing your risk of developing a related health issue.
(You can also read about herbs for reducing inflammation here.)
Soursop leaves have traditionally been used for pain relief as well as reducing inflammation. This benefit isn't confirmed by research yet, but some studies are underway.
Has Antibacterial Properties
Another of the benefits of soursop leaf is an ability to fight various strains of bacteria. It has especially been studied against oral pathogens that can cause gingivitis and tooth decay and was found to be effective against all strains but one. (5)
Other research shows that soursop extract can be effective against Candida albicans (the yeast behind most yeast infections) as well as the bacteria responsible for staph infections and cholera. (5)(6)
May Help Balance Blood Sugar Levels
High blood sugar is a problem for many people. While no one herb or food can get blood sugar under control on its own, certain herbs that provide diabetes support can be helpful when combined with lifestyle changes.
Some preliminary studies indicate that soursop could be one of these foods/herbs.
The extract has shown promise for reducing blood sugar levels by a very significant amount but has yet to be to be tested in human patients. Still, this indicates that soursop can be a very healthy addition to your diet overall. (7)
May Fight Cancer
It's no secret that plants, especially those with a high antioxidant content, are key in any type of cancer prevention diet.
Of course, there's no guarantee that even the healthiest diet will prevent cancer, but the active compounds found in all types of plants consistently show anticancer activity in studies.
Soursop is no different, and researchers have found that soursop extracts can decrease tumor size and kill breast cancer cells in lab studies. The extract has also shown an ability to stop the growth and formation of leukemia cancer cells. (8)(9)
It remains to be seen whether these results will translate to the human body, but it's never too early to start filling your body with antioxidant-rich foods like soursop.
Other Benefits of Soursop Leaf
Traditionally, soursop leaf has been used for more medicinal purposes than the fruit.
The leaves can be used to make a calming, soothing tea that traditional practitioners also utilize for pain relief. Sap from the leaves has been used as a remedy for wound healing and inflammatory skin issues.
The fruit and leaves can also be combined into a single remedy, which has seen use for pain, parasites, fevers, and respiratory problems throughout the years.
How to use Soursop? What are the side effects of Soursop?
Soursop fruit is delicious and easy to consume raw. You won't always find it in a normal grocery store, but specialty stores-- like Latin American, Brazilian, and Caribbean markets-- carry it more frequently.
To eat the fruit, simply cut it open and scoop out the flesh. Eat it as is or freeze and add to smoothies.
Be sure you remove the seeds from the fruit before consuming, since they contain toxic compounds.
Soursop leaves can be found dried or as an extract. You can use the dried leaves to make an herbal tea or even your own tincture, while the extract should be taken according to the instructions listed on the bottle.
Taking highly concentrated amounts of soursop extract (or eating the seeds) can cause negative side effects that are similar to those of Parkinson's disease. Be sure you don't take more than the recommended amount and consult a qualified herbalist as necessary for advice.
The good news is that simply eating soursop fruit is not linked to any ill effects, so enjoy it when you can find it!
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and should not be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your health care provider, herbalist, midwife, or naturopathic physician before taking herbs, supplements, etc. Here's the link to our full disclaimer.