The soursop fruit is both delicious in flavor and full of health benefits. Nutrient-dense and rich in vitamin C and fiber, it has very few calories for all the good it can do. Read on to discover the various soursop benefits, and how you can welcome this tropical fruit into your regular diet.
What Is Soursop? How Do You Eat It?
Soursop is the fruit of the Annona muricata or graviola tree, which is native to the tropical regions of the Caribbean and Central and South America. It’s a prickly green fruit that has a creamy inner texture, a strong flavor not unlike strawberry or pineapple, and is otherwise known as a guanabana, a custard apple, or the Brazilian paw paw.
This fruit is usually eaten raw, and if you’re wondering how to eat soursop, it’s just a matter of cutting the fruit in half and scooping out the flesh around the seeds. Some of the soursop fruits can grow to be quite large, and thus all the easier to divide into portions and share with family and friends.
Soursop Nutrition Facts
A standard serving of soursop is low in calories and high in several important nutrients, like vitamin C. A 100-gram serving of raw soursop fruit has approximately:
- 66 calories
- 1 gram of protein
- 3.3 grams of fiber
- 16.8 grams of carbs
- 34% of the DV (daily value) of vitamin C
- 8% of the DV of potassium
- 5% of the DV of thiamine
- 5% of the DV of magnesium
Soursop also has small amounts of riboflavin, niacin, folate, and iron.
More than just a tasty snack, soursop leaves, stems, and fruit can also be used medicinally, included in cooking and recipes, and even applied topically to the skin.
The Top 5 Scientifically Backed Soursop Benefits
Researchers have discovered more and more about the potential health benefits of soursop in recent years, including test-tube and animals studies that have shown soursop may help alleviate inflammation and even the growth of cancer.
1. Soursop Is High in Antioxidants
The high antioxidant content of soursop is one of the cornerstones of its beneficial abilities. Antioxidants work to fight dangerous free radicals in the body, compounds which cause damage to the cells and have been associated with many different diseases, from diabetes, to cancer, to heart disease. A laboratory study done to evaluate the antioxidant components of soursop found that they successfully prevented the damage done by free radicals.
Yet another study conducted to measure the antioxidant content in soursop extract confirmed those findings, revealing that soursop helps to guard against free radicals. That study also found that the plant compounds quercetin, tangeretin, and luteolin were present, and acted in antioxidant capacities in their trial. While more research still needs to be done to fully explore the antioxidant power of soursop, these initial findings appear promising for human health.
2. Soursop Appears to Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
Multiple animal studies suggest that soursop plays a role in helping to regulate blood sugar levels. One study published in 2008 showed that diabetic rats injected with soursop extract over a 2-week period exhibited 5 times the reduction in blood sugar levels of the control group of untreated rats. Another study of diabetic rats published in 2013 confirmed those results, with soursop extract lowering the test subjects’ blood sugar levels by as much as 75%.
These studies were done with a concentrated solution of soursop extract, and the same effect may not come from consuming soursop in your diet. More research is needed to define just how much soursop and in what form would make the same beneficial impact on human cases of diabetes, but these initial findings do indicate that soursop could be an asset when paired with a healthy lifestyle and diet.
3. There Are Antibacterial Abilities in Soursop
Beyond its antioxidant capacity, soursop has been shown to possess antibacterial components. A 2016 lab study showed that varying concentrations of soursop extract used on distinct types of oral bacteria effectively killed off multiple strains, including those which cause tooth decay, gingivitis, and other oral diseases.
When studied for its effects on the bacteria behind cholera outbreaks and Staphylococcus infections, once again soursop extract was able to combat the growth and proliferation of the bacteria. Keep in mind, these studies use highly concentrated forms of soursop, but it’s still an indication of the power and potential in this fruit.
4. Soursop May Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Researchers have found evidence that the components in soursop may help to lower levels of excessive inflammation. While inflammation is part of a normal and healthy immune response to infections or injuries, chronic and unnecessary inflammation can lead to higher risk factors for various diseases.
In a 2014 study of rat models, soursop extract reduced inflammation and alleviated swelling. A separate study using the extract from soursop leaves showed a 37% decrease in swelling, and concluded that soursop extract had both anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive (pain-blocking) properties.
These findings lead researchers to suggest that soursop may be useful in treating human inflammatory disorders such as arthritis, and while human trials have yet to be conducted, yet another animal study revealed that soursop extract has the ability to decrease specific inflammatory markers that are directly involved in arthritic conditions. When considering these results together, strong evidence suggests soursop’s potential as an anti-arthritic treatment.
5. You May Be Able to Fight Cancer with Soursop
Many research teams have investigated the use of soursop as a cancer treatment. So far these studies have been limited to laboratory trials, but there is nevertheless evidence that soursop may help kill cancer cells. These anti-cancer abilities have been shown to decrease the proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells, prevent the formation and growth of leukemia cancer cells, and eliminate breast cancer cells, reduce tumor size, and boost the immune system’s protective activity. The effects of soursop extract on so many types of abnormal cell growths lead scientists to conclude that there are significant anti-cancer properties in this tangy, tasty fruit.
The Sensational Soursop Tree
The soursop is an amazing tropical fruit, one that is often found in sorbets, ice creams, and soursop teas throughout Southeast Asia (where it is also grown) and South America. Though the results obtained in the above-mentioned clinical studies were done largely with soursop leaf extracts, the flesh of the soursop fruit can be folded into baked goods, added to smoothies, or simply enjoyed as a refreshing summer treat.
With its sweet taste and healthful benefits, the only potential side effect comes from the seeds, which should not be consumed at all. Soursop seeds contain annonacin, a neurotoxin believed to have a hand in Parkinson’s disease development. Once you remove the seeds however, soursop can be easily enjoyed, and may even be working to help save your life.