Offering the taste of strawberries and pineapples with the sweet touch of bananas and some citrus nuances, soursop is not a novelty in Latin America, India and Africa. Soursop is also known as graviola, soursop, guyabano or sirsak. Soursop is a grouped fruit of the perennial tree Annona muricata. Not only have the fruits of this tree found their way into syrups, candy, drinks, ice cream, cakes, sorbets and milkshakes, but they have also been firmly infused into folk medicine. The Annonaceae acetogenins (AGE), derivatives of fatty acids, long chain components appear magic this ethno- popular tree. They are present in the leaves, barks, seeds, roots and fruits and are likely to play an important role in the various medicinal uses of soursop.
This is what 100 grams (about half a cup) of raw soursop has to offer:
- Water: 81.16 gr
- Energy: 66 Calories
- Protein: 1 gr
- Fat: 0.3 gr
- Carbs: 16.84 gr
- Dietary fiber: 3.3 gr
- Sugars: 13.54 gr
- Calcium: 14 mg
- Iron: 0.6 mg
- Magnesium: 21 mg
- Copper: 0.086 mg
- Vitamin C: 20.6 gr
Soursop has been used for centuries in the traditional treatment of various diseases. Here are some of them:
1. Kill Cancer Cells:
The main reason for soursop to gain scientific prominence is its strong anti-cancer effect. AGEs are selectively toxic to cancer cells, including multi-resistant cancer cell lines. Cancer cells rely heavily on the breakdown of glycogen into glucose for energy. If they deprive them of glucose, the cells commit suicide. A study on pancreatic cancer cells showed that soursop leaf and stem extracts could take advantage of this dependence as a potential cancer treatment. Extracts depleted the supply of glucose in cancer cells, caused damage to free radicals and induced cell death.
“In another study, soursop leaf extracts deprived colon and lung cancer cells of energy, inhibited their multiplication and even prevented their migration in the body”.
Similar results were observed in mouse breast cancer cells. Although most studies have been conducted in vitro, that is, in laboratory cell cultures and not in living systems, a case study on a patient with breast cancer has supported to some extent the anticancer effects of soursop. The consumption of water-boiled soursop leaves in addition to a regular cancer medicine helped stabilize the patient’s condition for 5 years without side effects. The enormous implications of soursop in cancer therapies – delaying the spread of cancer or helping conventional chemotherapy work better – require thorough clinical trials. Only then can we determine the dose, efficacy and possible side effects of soursop in humans.
2. Supplies Nutrients:
Soursop is rich in several minerals such as iron, calcium, sodium, copper and magnesium. The incorporation of fruit into your usual diet can benefit your body craving these essential nutrients.
3. Discourage Inflammation:
Most diseases are related, in one way or another, with an inflammatory response. Harmful free radicals wreak havoc on cells and disrupt our body’s systems. Soursop can help counteract inflammation by supplying our immune system with an additional set of antioxidants to neutralize these harmful free radicals. In one study, it was found that soursop leaf extracts could protect cells from oxidative damage by eliminating free radicals and promoting antioxidant production.
4. Reduces Arthritic Inflammation:
A study in rats showed that oral administration of soursop leaf extracts for 2 weeks was able to suppress certain inflammatory proteins – TNF-α and IL-1β. In doing so, arthritic inflammation was reduced by 70% -80%. Similar studies in humans have not yet been performed.
5. Prevents Stomach Ulcers:
People who take NSAID painkillers (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are prone to developing stomach ulcers. The mucus that covers your stomach plays a very important role in the defense against free radicals that promote ulcers. By providing an antioxidant boost, soursop can help preserve the mucus of your stomach and prevent it from developing stomach ulcers.
6. Relieves Pain:
Soursop has traditionally been consumed as an analgesic. Research suggests that it does so by inhibiting pain receptors and other inflammatory molecules.
7. Help Control Diabetes:
Soursop pericarp extracts (fruit minus seed) can keep blood glucose levels under control after a meal. Fruit phenols do so by inhibiting the enzymes – α-amylase and α-glucosidase – that increase blood glucose levels. In another study, it was observed that leaf extract promotes the growth of insulin-producing pancreatic cells. Hypertension or high blood pressure, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, can also be reduced with the soursop phenolic compounds. By inhibiting the enzyme angiotensin-I converting enzyme (ACE), the phenols stimulate the body to become more receptive to insulin. This is an added advantage for diabetics and those on the verge of diabetes. It is important to keep in mind that soursop can reduce blood pressure without affecting heart rate. Due to these multiple soothing effects of sugar, soursop is promising in the control of type 2 diabetes.
8. Protects Against Infections:
A growing concern about infections is the development of drug resistance in many microbes. This is when we need to remember that natural remedies can serve us well. Soursop leaf extracts have demonstrated significant toxicity against bacteria and viruses that cause leishmaniasis, trypanosomiasis, malaria and herpes.
9. Support Liver Health:
The liver is responsible for removing the bilirubin bile pigment from the body. Individuals who have jaundice have high levels of this pigment, which gives the skin a yellowish tinge. In Ghana, natives traditionally use soursop to treat jaundice. Based on their traditional use, the researchers demonstrated that soursop extracts can normalize bilirubin levels in adult rats suffering from jaundice. In addition to stimulating liver function, soursop has also been shown to protect the liver from chemically induced damage.
10. Control Seizures:
In an attempt to corroborate the use of soursop leaf decoctions to control fever and seizures in Africa, a study was conducted in mice. Soursop extracts were found to have a positive influence on chemically induced seizures and mortality.
11. Prevents Oral Infections:
Sodium hypochlorite is a chemical used to prevent microbial infections during root canal treatment. However, it can cause other dental problems. Soursop leaf extracts have proven to be as effective as sodium hypochlorite in preventing oral infections, less side effects. This makes them the safest option as irrigators for root canals.
12. Heal the Cuts:
Soursop leaves have been used in folk medicine to treat skin diseases and abscesses. We now know that this is due to the soursop anti-inflammatory compounds. A study in rats showed that the topical application of soursop leaf extracts in the cuts was able to accelerate the wound healing process. An increase in wound healing proteins was observed (Hsp-70).
Soursop Side Effects:
There is evidence to suggest that soursop is unsafe for human consumption.
- Anonacin, the predominant AGE, is toxic to neurons in the brain in high doses. Eating soursop fruit can therefore produce neural side effects. AGEs can cause nerve damage leaving an individual vulnerable to movement disorders such as Guadalupe’s atypical Parkinsonism.
- Tea made with soursop leaves and stems can also be neurotoxic.
- It is proposed that daily consumption of soursop fruit or nectar for a year could provide enough anonacin to cause brain abnormalities in rats.
Eat Soursop Fruit with Caution:
Although the soursop has a lot to offer, it is better that we do not “consume excessively” the fruit and be careful.
- Eat the pulp, not the seeds:Do not eat soursop seeds, as they are possibly loaded with neurotoxins. Pick up the pulp and eat it after removing the seeds. Like avocado, make sure the fruit is ripe enough (a yellowish green and not a dark green) before slicing it. You can use pulp as a sweet and sour flavor ingredient in smoothies and desserts. However, limit your consumption to half a cup a few days a week.
- Avoid soursop and tea supplements:It is better to postpone soursop and tea supplements, at least until we know for sure that they are safe for human consumption.
- Do not combine soursop with certain medications: Do not eat soursop if you are taking medications to lower blood pressure or blood sugar.
- Be careful of side effects:Stay away from any form of soursop completely if you notice any health problems, such as loss of balance, tremor or muscle stiffness, and see a doctor.
- Future moms and new moms should not eat soursop:It is not advisable for pregnant or breastfeeding women to consume soursop until we know more about it.
Some people may be very receptive to the soursop and may benefit more than others. Therefore, be on your guard to understand if the fruit can be beneficial for you.