The Nutritional And Health Benefits Of Guanabana, Soursop Or Graviola
Latin Name : Annona muricata
Soursop is the fruit of the tree Annona muricata. Also known by other names including graviola, guanabana, anona, sirsak and adunu.
In India, soursop is known as Lakshmana Phala and Shul-ram-fal.
The graviola fruit is a very strange looking fruuit having a contrasting mix of flavors of many fruits.
Soursop has been touted as an alternative treatment for cancer.
Annona muricata TreeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Annona muricata (Soursop) Tree
The Soursop tree is a small tropical tree that is believed to be native to the Caribbean, Central America, Northern South America, Cuba and Mexico. It grows to about a height of 30 feet.
The Annona muricata grows best and produces fruit of high quality in areas where humidity is high and winters are not severe but warmer. as temperature below 41 degrees F damages the leaves while below 37 degrees F is fatal to both the tree and the fruit.
The tree is mainly grown for its fruit, which can grow quite heavy sometimes weighing as much as 15 pounds.
The leaves, stem and seeds have been traditionally used for medicinal purposes.
Soursop Flower & FruitsClick thumbnail to view full-size
The soursop fruit grows in a variety of shapes. Though the fruit on an average weighs from 400 to 800 grams, the heaviest ones may weigh close to 7 kilos. The fruit length varies from 5 to 10 inches.
The skin of soursop is spiky and green. It can be eaten raw like any other fruit and can also be processed to make products like smoothies, juices, ice creams, etc. In fact, it is also used to make a variety of food and beverage products.
The fruit is also used as and to make medicine.
Nutrients In Soursop
- Rich in fiber
- Rich in vitamin C, phosphorus and calcium.
- Low in sodium but high in potassium.
- Low in fat.
- Contains a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Individual levels of the various nutrients can be seen in the table below.
Nutrients In Soursop
Nutritional value per 100 grams
% of Daily Requirements
Thiamine (vit. B1)
Riboflavin (vit. B2)
Niacin (vit. B3)
Pantothenic acid (B5)
Folate (vit. B9)
Some Traditional Treatments With Soursop
The fruit seeds are used to control vomiting.
The leaves help in treating skin affections when applied as a poultice.
The fruit pulp helps to heal wounds faster when applied on them.
The root bark is used as an antidote for poisoning.
A decoction or tea made of leaves is used to get rid of head lice and bed bugs.
In the Caribbean, soursop leaves are commonly used as a remedy for insomnia by brewing them to make a beverage. In fact, the leaves used in a pillowcase have been found to promote sleep.
Health Benefits Of Soursop
In lab experiments soursop has been found to have the following properties :
- Antileishmanial - Leishmaniasis is a disease which causes skin ulcers and affects orans like spleen and liver as well and is caused by the protozoa Leishmania which is spread by some types of sandflies.
- Cytotoxic - Causes death of certain types of cells since it is toxic to those cells. This property could be used to target specific types of cells like cancer cells.
- Antinociceptive - Reduces sensitivity to painful stimuli.
Research has shown that soursop is able to kill almost 12 types of cancer cells including those of the colon, breast, lung, pancreas and the prostate.
It has been found, in vito studies, that the compound, cis annonacin in soursop, seeds is up to 10000 times more effective in reducing growth of colon cancer cells than the commonly used chemotherapeutic drug Adriamycin.
More importantly, this compound kills selectively the cancer cells while leaving the healthy cells unharmed.
Human studies though, have not been done on the anti cancer effects of soursop.
The bottom line then being that though soursop holds promise as an anti cancer agent, in the absence of human studies and the possibility of side effects soursop extracts need to be used with caution.
These extracts should not be taken as a standalone anticancer treatment.
Among the other properties of soursop that have been established by research are:
Anticonvulsant, antifungal, antimutagenic, antispasmodic, antioxidant, sedative, uterine stimulant and vasodilator.
Some Side Effects And Precautions With Soursop
- Soursop or graviola may cause movement disorders/symptoms similar to that encountered in Parkinson's disease and thus worsen these symptoms.
- Web MD lists graviola as unsafe since it can kill nerve cells in the brain as well as in the body.
- Pregnant women and those breastfeeding should avoid it.
- Graviola lowers BP. Hence, those with low BP or on blood pressure lowering medications should keep this fact in mind.
- Large doses of soursop may cause nausea and vomiting.,
- Avoid taking soursop with Coenzyme Q10 or other supplements that increase ATP.
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.
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Soursop Smoothie Recipe
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© 2014 Rajan Singh Jolly