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The Health Benefits of Custard Apple, Sweetsop, Sugar Apple or Sitaphal

Updated on August 19, 2020
rajan jolly profile image

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Custard Apple


Custard Apple/Sugarsop/Sweet Apple/Sitaphal

Latin name: Annona squamosa.

In India, the fruit is called Sitaphal or Sharifa.

About The Custard Apple Fruit

Custard Apple broadly refers to all fruits from the Annonaceae family, also known as the custard apple family and belong to the Genus Annona which includes :

  • Custard Apple from Annona reticulata
  • Cherimoya from Annona cherimola
  • Sweetsop, Sugar Apple, Custard Apple (so-called in India & Australia) from Annona squamosa
  • Soursop from Annona purpurea
  • Atemoya from A hybrid of Annona cherimola & Annona squamosa

In this hub, I am referring to the custard apple fruit obtained from the plant Annona squamosa.

Nutrients In Custard Apple

  • Sugar apple is very high in Vitamin C.
  • It is also very rich in Vitamin B6, B2 potassium and dietary fiber.
  • Custard apple has good levels of magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus and niacin.
  • It contains several polyphenolic antioxidants prominent among these being the actogenins that are powerful cytotoxins.
  • It is free of cholesterol.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Inside of the sitaphal showing individual seeds covered in its own sweet fleshy pulpsugar apple pulp
Inside of the sitaphal showing individual seeds covered in its own sweet fleshy pulp
Inside of the sitaphal showing individual seeds covered in its own sweet fleshy pulp | Source
sugar apple pulp
sugar apple pulp | Source

Nutrients Levels In Custard Apple

Custard Apple or
Sugar Apple
Per 100g
70 grams
23.64 grams
2.06 grams
Total dietary fiber
4.4 grams
0.29 grams
Total sugars
9 mg
60 mg
7.5 mg
Vitamin C
36.3 mg
0.11 mg
0.113 mg
0.883 mg
0.200 mg
14 mcg
6 IU
less than 1%
1 mg
32 mg
9 mg
247 mg
24 mg
0.6 mg
21 mg
0.10 mg
Source : USDA Nutrient Database

Health Benefits of Custard Apple

  • Sugar apple maintains good vision as the high vitamin C counters free radical damage and inflammation. It, therefore, is also effective in reducing arthritis and rheumatism.
  • It improves digestive function due to the natural soluble fibre which also ensures relief from constipation as it helps in smooth bowel movements.
  • The magnesium helps in maintaining the functioning of the smooth muscles of the heart and by preventing cramping of the heart muscles. The potassium helps in regulating blood pressure and these two help in keeping the heart-healthy. The fruit gives strength to the heart and also regulates heartbeat, calms the heart and strengthens the heart muscles.
  • The fruit is rich in energy and so relieves fatigue, tiredness and exhaustion.
  • The vitamin C also helps in the healing of injuries.
  • Folate and iron help in preventing and treating anaemia. This is beneficial to pregnant women as it also helps to avoid defects in the growing fetus.
  • The phosphorus and magnesium keep the bones strong as well.
  • Niacin and the fibre help to lower cholesterol levels while the fibre additionally slows down the absorption of sugar and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Custard apple reduces the risk of cancer and renal failure since it contains compounds like acetogenin and alkaloids.
  • Thin persons will find it beneficial in gaining weight if taken regularly.
  • It reduces body heat and is cooling.

Some Natural Cures With Custard Apple

  • A decoction of leaves induces menstrual flow in cases where it is delayed. It also is used to relieve dysentery, colds and fever.
  • The decoction of leaves is used in the bath to alleviate rheumatic pains.
  • Sniffing the crushed leaves prevent hysteria fainting spells and dizziness and drops of juice of the leaves when put in the nose brings an unconscious person to consciousness if it is due to hysteria.
  • The crushed leaves are tied on boils to treat them.
  • Powder of the unripe fruit is used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery and also used as a tooth powder to strengthen the teeth and gums.
  • The unripe fruit juice treats insect bites.
  • The root is strong purgative and is used to treat dysentery
  • A decoction of the bark is used to treat diarrhoea.
  • A chutney or paste made of the leaves is mixed with some rock salt to make a poultice. This applied to injuries and wounds not only helps in healing but also destroys worms that have infested the wound. The poultice also helps to ripen boils and break it open to drain out the pus and then heal it.

Custard Apple Flower

custard apple flower
custard apple flower | Source

The Custard Apple Tree

In English, this fruit is also known as Sweetsop, Sugar apple, Bullock's heart etc.

The Custard apple tree is a small tree which grows to a height of about 10 to 25 feet. It bears round but somewhat heart-shaped green to faint yellowish-green fruit on a thickened stalk. The pulp of the fruit is sweet-tasting and aromatic with a white to a pale cream pulp inside.

The seeds are scattered all over on the fruit pulp. Each individual seed is enclosed in its own fleshy covering with the sweet pulp all around it and especially all over inside its hard outer skin. The seeds are shiny black in colour. The outer skin of the fruit is hard, lumpy with many raised and curved protuberances.

The tree is native to South America and the Caribbean and is today grown in tropical areas of Asia, Africa, Australasia and many other countries around the world.

The Custard apple tree grows well in hot and dry climates and at lower altitudes than many other species of this genus. Annona squamosa is the most widely cultivated species of Annona.

Some Unique Uses Of The Custard Apple Tree

The Custard apple tree is a natural host for the larvae of the tailed butterfly.

The fruit of the tree is eaten as it is. It is also used to make a hair tonic.

The seeds are ground and applied in the hair to get rid of lice. Just make sure not to get it into the eyes as it can cause loss of vision.

The oil extracted from the seeds is used to counter agricultural pests.

In Mexico the leaves are rubbed on floors and also put in nest boxes of hens to repel lice.

Some Precautions

  • When using on hair ensure the paste does not go into the eyes as it can lead to blindness.
  • It is cooling so do not eat it in excess as it can cause colds and make one sick. Also, if you are suffering from cold, do not consume the fruit.
  • The seeds are poisonous. Do not eat.
  • Do not consume if you have diabetes as it is high in sugar.


The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.

Custard apple kheer recipe

Custard Apple (Sitaphal) Milkshake | Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana

Custard Apple Frozen Punch

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I end up catching a cold if I eat more than 2 of these a day..It's my favourite fruit

      Didn't know this fruit had so many benefits..true it is that we leave such easily available food & run after junk!

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Thanks @hijama for stopping by and commenting.

      @oliwier thanks for visiting my hub.

    • oliwier profile image

      Richard Warren 

      5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      I ate that fruit. The fruit is high in calcium.

    • hijama profile image


      5 years ago from Rottherdam - NL

      oh!! greta and dilicious, thank you for sharing this hub

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @Mary-thank you.


    • anglnwu profile image


      7 years ago

      I remember eating this fruit as a child. I love it. It's hard to find sweetsop where I'm. Glad to read that there are many health benefits connected to this fruit. As usual, very informative and interesting.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      I have to echo Bill's thoughts...yet another fruit new to me. How educational you are introducing us to so many things we never knew about. Not only do you introduce us but you provide us with so much information!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      I love the taste of Sitaphal though the seeds are big. Thanks for reading and sharing.

    • Indian Chef profile image

      Indian Chef 

      7 years ago from New Delhi India

      I really love this fruit. Even though it is not easy to eat with so many seeds in it and usually I get my hands dirty eating them but they taste devine and now they are in season so... :D .. sharing and voting it up.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @Peggy-Thanks. I do hope you get to taste this fruit. Thanks for all the votes and sharing.

      @Jo-yes nature's bounties are many. If only we learn to tap them correctly we would be far healthier and happy. Did you ever try this fruit?Thanks for the visit.

      @Angelo-Thanks my friend, for the visit,comments and sharing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Interesting fruit. May have had some as a kid but not for a long time. Thumbs up and shared.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      7 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      rajan, you already know what I'm about to say :). Yes.....I had several trees planted in my tropical garden in the Caribbean, I only wish I knew then what a little gem it was. The sugar apple is a very delicious fruit, but nice to see that it is also very beneficial to our health.

      Nature really does provide, doesn't she?

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rajan,

      This is a fruit that I have never seen for sale in our part of the world nor ever tasted. You mentioned in one of the comments that a ripe fruit smells a bit like pineapple. It sounds wonderful. Interesting that it can be used in so many other ways like in lice and pest control. Up, useful and interesting votes and will share and pin. Thanks for introducing me to this Sweet Apple Custard / Sweetsop / Sitaphal fruit. I hope that someday I will get to taste it.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Athul - you are right. I love sitaphal. Thanks for reading.

    • athulnair profile image


      7 years ago from India

      It is good to know the benefits of custard apple. It is a fact that fruits like this which are easily available is not consumed by us, instead we go behind junk foods.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Thanks for stopping by tebo!

    • tebo profile image


      7 years ago from New Zealand

      I have only ever had custard apple in Australia many years ago and I loved it. I don't think we can get it here in New Zealand but I must look for it because I would really like to try it again. Thanks for listing all the health benefits and uses of this unusual fruit.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @ moonlake - Custard apple does look interestingly different. A very ripe fruit would emit a fragrance much like what a very ripe pineapple would. Thanks for reading and passing it on.

      @ beingwell - thanks for this info and for the visit. Appreciate the sharing of this info.

      @ Patrica - Thanks for all the read and wishes.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      7 years ago from North Central Florida

      Hi rajan jolly

      Another plant I am totally unfamiliar with. It seems like one we should all know as it is so filled with good things our body needs. Thanks for sharing Angels are on the way to you again this morning :) ps

    • beingwell profile image


      7 years ago from Bangkok

      Hi rajan! We call this "atis" back home. I like it's sweeeet flavors. Voting up and shared.

    • moonlake profile image


      7 years ago from America

      Lots of information on a fruit I have never heard of but it looks good. I like the name custard apple that just sounds like it's good. Vote up and shared.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @ Rasma - Glad to see you like the info. Thanks fro stopping by.

      @ Paul - They are messy but I always keep a bowl handy to spit out the seeds. I especially love the pulp next to the rind. That can be scraped with a spoon and eaten.

      Thanks for the vote and sharing.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      7 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


      This is another awesome hub which is so interesting and informative. I first became introduced to custard apples when I lived in Taiwan in the 70s. Now I am enjoying them in Thailand where they taste sweeter than the ones in Taiwan. The only bad thing I don't like about custard apples is that they are very messy to eat. You definitely need a napkin or dish for spitting out the seeds. I never knew that the seeds were posionous or that they can be used for treating lice. Voted up and sharing and also Pinning.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      7 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Thanks for sharing this fascinating hub indeed. Never heard of this before. Of course way up north here this wouldn't grow. Passing this on.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @ Devika - thanks.

      @ Wetnosedogs - glad you appreciate the info.

      @ Carol - thanks for the continued support.

      @ Cyndi - this is just a caution and there is nothing much to worry about. It is a safe fruit to eat since we don't eat or bite into the seeds. Thanks for stopping by.

      @ Suzie - Thanks for the linking and all the sharing. I'll be placing a link to your Cherimoya hub in here. It'll be a useful addition. Thanks for the support as you always do.

      @ Arun- thanks for reading.

      @ Archa - I do hope you try out this recipe.

      @ Margaret - thanks for the visit and appreciate the sharing.

      @ Eddy - always good to see you support these hubs. Thanks.

      @ Bill -thanks for the continued support.

      @ Kathryn - I'm glad you like info on these less known fruits. Appreciate the support.

      @ Ruchira - Good to see you and thanks for reading.

    • Ruchira profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      Great information, rajan.

      Thanks for some useful pointers. Voted up as useful and interesting.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image


      7 years ago from Windsor, Connecticut

      This is very interesting. I have never seen this fruit, and I like learning about the ones that are so unfamiliar and exotic to me. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And yet another food I have never heard of or tried. It is amazing to me how many foods you have mentioned that I did not know existed. Thank you once again for the information. Well done Rajan!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      Wow i have never heard of this one rajan and so interesting. Another wonderful share from you and voted up as always.


    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      7 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      It's so interesting to learn about these trees and fruits that I'm unfamiliar with. Voted up, interesting, useful and sharing.

    • Archa Ghodge profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Oh..this is great specially the custard apple shake. Definitely going to try it.

    • ARUN KANTI profile image


      7 years ago from KOLKATA

      Very healthy tips as always. Thank you Rajan.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Rajan,

      Great informative hub on this unusual fruit, so similar to cherimoya. Loved your video choices showing the diversity of custard apple fruit. Thanks for sharing on this and I have linked it to my cherimoya article if that is okay Rajan? Voted up, Useful, Interesting, Shared, Pinned!

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      You certainly know a lot about different foods, but then of course you would, given your profile. This fruit, however, is not one that I would want to try. You mentioned blindness twice and then the seeds of the custard apple are poisonous. I like my fruit safe and risk-free. :-) Voted up and sharing.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Another fruit to learn about. You have a never ending supply. I love learning about different fruits and vegetables and if I ever see them in a store I will know what they are. Voting up and sharing.

    • wetnosedogs profile image


      7 years ago from Alabama

      Love stopping here. I always learn something interesting.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      7 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Wow! So interesting and a different fruit, you did this hub wit such thought and informed me to the point. Voted up and interesting!


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