Health Benefits of Cherimoya

Known by many names—including custard apple��the cherimoya (Annona cherimola) is a heart-shaped, green fruit from South America. 

The unusual fruit’s inedible peel is scaly and similar in appearance to an artichoke. The flesh inside is creamy and soft like custard. When eating cherimoya, be careful to remove the dark brown seeds, which are toxic to humans. 

Cherimoya has a strong, sweet flavor. Even Mark Twain was a fan of the fruit, calling it “the most delicious fruit known to man,” thanks to its very sweet taste. Some people say that cherimoya tastes like a mix of pineapple, strawberry, and banana.

In addition to tasting great, cherimoya also boasts a variety of nutritional and health benefits. For this reason, many people choose to make this unique fruit a part of their diet whenever it’s in season from fall to spring. 

Cherimoya Health Benefits

Cherimoya provides vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are important in a balanced diet. It also contains antioxidants that help prevent illnesses like cancer. The carotenoids, flavonoids, and vitamin C in cherimoya support health and wellness in various ways.

Here are some of the health benefits of cherimoya:

Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure

Cherimoya contains nutrients like potassium and magnesium that may help lower blood pressure. One fruit contains 674 milligrams of potassium and 40 milligrams of magnesium. 

Reduce the Risk of Cancer

The flavonoids in cherimoya can help support your immune system, and they might also help fight cancer.

Strengthen the Immune System

Cherimoyas are rich in vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system. Getting the recommended daily amount of vitamin C can help your body fight off infections. One cherimoya contains 60% of your recommended daily intake.

Reduce Inflammation

Certain compounds in cherimoya may help reduce inflammation. By reducing chronic inflammation, you may be able to decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease, arthritis, bowel diseases, and diabetes.

Support Healthy Digestion

A cup of cherimoya contains 4.8 grams of fiber. Fiber helps support a healthy digestive system and can help lower your cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. High-fiber foods also make you feel fuller longer, which can be helpful for people who are trying to lose weight.

Maintain Eye Health

Cherimoya contains lutein—a carotenoid related to vitamin A and beta-carotene. Lutein is found in your eyes, and getting more of it may help protect against conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD). 

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Nutrition

Cherimoya contains a range of nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The following vitamins and minerals are found in this fruit:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamin
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium

Nutrients per Serving

A half-cup serving of fresh cherimoya contains:

Things to Watch Out For

Only eat the pulp of cherimoya, and discard the skin and the seeds, which should not be crushed.

The seeds are toxic, and have even been used to create insecticides when crushed. Also, contact with the eyes can result in serious problems, such as toxic keratitis.

Eating too much cherimoya on a regular basis might be associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease because of acetogenins that may have negative effects on the nervous system.

How to Prepare Cherimoya

When buying cherimoyas, look for heavy, dark green fruits that are a bit soft when you apply some pressure with your fingers. If you buy a cherimoya that is too firm and not ripe yet, you can let it ripen at room temperature. The skin will become darker, and it will begin to feel a little softer when you press on it, similar to the way avocado ripens when it’s ready to eat. 

You can eat ripe cherimoya with a spoon. Simply slice it in half, remove the seeds, and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. You can also peel the fruit, cut it into cubes, and remove the seeds. 

Here are some other ways you can enjoy cherimoya:

  • Blend cherimoya into a smoothie.
  • Make homemade sherbet with cherimoya.
  • Add cherimoya to a tropical salad.
  • Create a fresh salsa with diced cherimoya and jalapeño peppers.
  • Bake a cherimoya pie.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 02, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

National Geographic: “The Five Best Fruits You’re Not Eating.”

American Heart Association, Inc.: “How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure.” 

Half Your Plate: “Cherimoya.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Understanding Acute and Chronic Inflammation.”

Vegetarian Times: “How to Pick, Prep, and Cook with Cherimoya.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon. 

National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Flavonoids in Cancer and Apoptosis.”
Purdue University: “Cherimoya."
National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Ocular toxicity by seeds of Annona squamosa (custard apple).”
Austin Publishing Group: “Neurotoxicity of Fruits, Seeds and Leaves of Plants in the Annonaceae Family.”

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