Soursop is a popular fruit for its delicious flavor and impressive health benefits.
It’s also very nutrient-dense and provides good fiber and vitamin C for very few calories.
This article will look at some of the health benefits of soursop and how you can incorporate it into your diet.
What is a soursop?
Soursop, also known as graviola, is the fruit of Annona muricata, a type of tree native to tropical regions of the Americas.
This prickly green fruit has a creamy texture and a strong flavor that is often compared to pineapple or strawberry.
Soursop is typically eaten raw by cutting the fruit in half and scooping out the flesh. Fruits range in size and can be quite large, so it may be best to divide it into a few portions.
A typical serving of this fruit is low in calories yet high in several nutrients like fiber and vitamin C. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of raw soursop contains:
- Calories: 66
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbs: 16.8 grams
- Fiber: 3.3 grams
- Vitamin C: 34% of your daily need
- Potassium: 8% of your daily need
- Magnesium: 5% of your daily need
- Thiamine: 5% of your daily need
Soursop also contains a small amount of niacin, riboflavin, folate and iron.
Interestingly, many parts of the fruit are used medicinally, including the leaves, fruit and stems. It is also used in cooking and can be applied to the skin.
Research has also unearthed various health benefits for soursop in recent years.
Some test-tube and animal studies have even found that it may help with everything from alleviating inflammation to slowing cancer growth.
Summary: Soursop is a type of fruit used in medicine and cooking. It is low in calories but high in fiber and vitamin C. Some research has shown that it may also have health benefits.
Soursop is high in antioxidants
Many of the reported benefits of soursop are due to its high content of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds that help neutralize harmful compounds called free radicals, which can cause damage to cells.
Some research shows that antioxidants could play a role in reducing the risk of several diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
One test-tube study looked at the antioxidant properties of soursop and found that it could effectively protect against damage caused by free radicals.
Another test-tube study measured the antioxidants in soursop extract and showed that it helped prevent cell damage. It also contained several plant compounds that act as antioxidants, including luteolin, quercetin and tangeretin.
More research is needed to determine how beneficial the antioxidants found in soursop may be to humans.
Summary: Test-tube studies show that soursop is high in antioxidants, which may help prevent cell damage and could lower the risk of chronic disease.
Soursop may help kill cancer cells
Although most research is currently limited to test-tube studies, some studies have found that soursop could help eliminate cancer cells.
One test-tube study treated breast cancer cells with soursop extract. Interestingly enough, it was able to reduce tumor size, kill off cancer cells and enhance the activity of the immune system.
Another test-tube study looked at the effects of soursop extract on leukemia cells, which was found to stop the growth and formation of cancer cells.
However, remember that these are test-tube studies looking at a strong dose of soursop extract. Further studies need to examine how eating fruit may affect cancer in humans.
Summary: Some test-tube studies show that soursop may help reduce the growth of cancer cells. More research is needed to evaluate the effect on humans.
Soursop can help fight bacteria
In addition to its antioxidant properties, some studies show that soursop may also contain potent antibacterial properties.
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In one test-tube study, extracts of soursop with varying concentrations were used on different bacteria that cause oral diseases.
Soursop effectively killed off multiple types of bacteria, including strains that cause gingivitis, tooth decay and yeast infections.
Another test-tube study showed that soursop extract worked against the bacteria responsible for cholera and Staphylococcus infections.
Despite these promising results, it’s important to remember that these are test-tube studies using a highly concentrated extract. It’s far greater than the amount you typically get through your diet.
Further studies are needed to evaluate this fruit’s potential antibacterial effects in humans.
Summary: Test-tube studies show that soursop has antibacterial properties and may be effective against some strains of bacteria responsible for the disease, although more studies are needed.
Soursop could reduce inflammation
Some animal studies have found that soursop and its components may be able to help fight inflammation.
Inflammation is a normal immune response to injury, but increasing evidence shows that chronic inflammation could contribute to disease.
In one study, rats were treated with soursop extract, which decreased swelling and alleviated inflammation.
Another study had similar findings, showing that soursop extract reduced swelling in mice by up to 37%.
Though research is currently limited to animal studies, this may be especially beneficial in treating inflammatory disorders like arthritis.
In fact, in one animal study, soursop extract decreased the levels of certain inflammatory markers involved in arthritis.
However, more research is needed to evaluate the anti-inflammatory properties of this fruit.
Summary: Animal studies show that soursop extract could reduce inflammation and may be useful in treating certain inflammatory disorders.
Soursop may help stabilize blood sugar levels
Some animal studies have shown Soursop to help regulate blood sugar levels.
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In one study, diabetic rats were injected with soursop extract for two weeks. Those who received the extract had blood sugar levels that were five times lower than the untreated group.
Another study showed that administering soursop extract to diabetic rats reduced blood sugar levels by up to 75%.
However, these animal studies use a concentrated amount of soursop extract that exceeds what you might get through your diet.
Although more research on humans is needed, these findings suggest that soursop could benefit those with diabetes with a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
Summary: Some animal studies have found that soursop extract could significantly reduce blood sugar levels.
How to eat soursop
From juices to ice creams and sorbets, soursop is a popular ingredient throughout South America and can be enjoyed in various ways.
The flesh can be added to smoothies, made into teas or even used to help sweeten baked goods.
However, soursop is most often enjoyed raw because it has a strong, naturally sweet flavor.
When selecting fruit, pick a soft one or let it ripen for a few days before eating. Then cut it lengthwise, scoop out the flesh from the rind and enjoy.
Remember that the seeds of the soursop should be avoided, as they have been shown to contain annonacin, a neurotoxin that may contribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Summary: Soursop can be used in juices, smoothies, teas or desserts. It can also be enjoyed raw, but the seeds should be removed before eating.
Test-tube and animal studies using soursop extract have uncovered promising results regarding this fruit’s potential health benefits.
Still, it’s important to remember that these studies look at the effects of a concentrated dose of soursop extract, much greater than the amount you would get from a single serving.
However, soursop is delicious, versatile, and a beneficial addition to your diet.
When combined with a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, this fruit may have impressive health benefits.