Menu

Health Benefits of Soursop

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 19, 2020

A native of the warm and tropical regions of the Americas, soursop is a fruit that goes by many names. Its scientific name is Annona muricata, but it also goes by guanabana, paw-paw, sirsak, and graviola. 

Soursop is a member of the Annonaceae family, also known as the custard apple family. The fruits, which grow on trees, are large and oval-shaped. The green exterior, which has spines on it, covers a white, fibrous flesh. They grow up to 8 inches and can weigh up to 10 pounds. Soursop’s flavor can best be described a cross between mango and pineapple

Soursop has many uses in traditional medicine, and it has been used to treat a wide range of health conditions and ailments. With its strong nutrient profile, it provides a variety of health benefits.

Health Benefits

Soursop is high in vitamin C, an antioxidant known to boost immune health. The vitamin strengthens your immune system, improving its ability to defend against pathogens. It also promotes the destruction of free radicals, which can help to protect your skin and cells from environmental oxidative damage. One whole soursop fruit contains 215% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. 

Soursop (the fruit and the leaves) contains many other antioxidants, including phytosterols, tannins, and flavonoids. Antioxidants play a role in your overall health and may help to protect against a variety of health conditions. 

Other health benefits of soursop include:

Healthy digestion

One whole soursop fruit contains around 83% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber, which is a vital nutrient for your digestive health. Fiber helps to promote regularity and prevent digestive issues such as constipation.

Potential anti-carcinogenic effects

While most research is limited to test-tube studies, soursop may be beneficial in helping to fight and prevent cancer. One study found that a soursop extract could reduce the size of breast cancer tumors and kill cancer cells. A second study found that an extract could stop the formation of leukemia cells.

Fights inflammation

Antioxidants fight free radicals, reducing the damage to your cells caused by oxidative stress. One of the side effects of oxidative stress is inflammation. The antioxidants in soursop may, therefore, help to reduce inflammation in the body.

Stabilizes blood pressure

High blood pressure may lead to serious issues like heart disease and heart attack. A contributing factor to high blood pressure is sodium intake. Potassium helps your body to get rid of sodium and eases the tension in the walls of your blood vessels, both of which can help to lower your blood pressure. A whole soursop fruit offers approximately one-third to one-half of your recommended daily allowance of potassium. 

May fight against bacteria

Soursop may provide antibacterial effects. One study found that an extract may be able to kill many different types of bacteria, including strains that cause gum disease and cavities. Another study found that soursop extracts may help to fight cholera and Staphylococcus bacteria. While these were test-tube studies, the results are promising, and further research is needed. 

Nutrition

Soursop contains many essential vitamins and minerals, including:

Nutrients Per Serving

One entire soursop fruit provides:

Things to Watch Out For

While soursop can offer significant health benefits, it does have some potential drawbacks. Studies have shown that the fruit and tea made from the leaves may cause symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. Studies also indicate that it may interact with high blood pressure medication or medications for diabetes. The compounds in the fruit may strengthen the effects of such medications, causing dangerous drops in your blood pressure or blood sugar levels. 

You should also avoid eating soursop seeds. They have toxic compounds and may cause harmful side effects. Be sure to remove them before eating the fruit.

How to Eat Soursop

You’ll likely find fresh and frozen soursop in Brazilian grocery stores. You may also find the fruit in some conventional grocery stores or online. 

Most soursop is picked before the fruit is fully ripened. While the unripe fruit is green, it turns to a yellow-green to indicate maturity. It will also give a little when you press on it. Store unripe fruit on the counter. Once mature, you should store it in the refrigerator and use it within a few days. 

Soursop is delicious raw. You can also use it in many different ways, such as:

  • Homemade popsicles
  • Ice cream
  • A sweet addition to your favorite smoothie recipe
  • Juices
  • A topping for to oatmeal, yogurt, or chia pudding
  • A zesty addition to a quick bread or cake batter
WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Nutrients: “Vitamin C and Immune Function.”

Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine: “Phytochemical Screening Anti-Oxidant Activity and In Vitro Anticancer Potential of Ethanolic and Water Leaves Extracts of Annona muricata (Graviola).”

World of Gastroenterology: “Effect of Dietary Fiber on Constipation: A Meta Analysis.”

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Anti-Cancer Effect of Anonna Muricata Linn Leaves Crude Extract (AMCE) on Breast Cancer Cell Line.”

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Antiproliferative Activity and Induction of Apoptosis by Annona muricata (Annonaceae) Extract on Human Cancer Cells.”

Food & Function: “The Antioxidant Activity of Soursop Decreases the Expression of a Member of the NADPH Oxidase Family.”

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

Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research: “Anti-Microbial Efficacy of Soursop Leaf Extract (Annona muricata) on Oral Pathogens: An In-Vitro Study.”

Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de Sao Paulo: “Antibacterial Effect (In Vitro) of Moringa oleifera and Annona muricata Against Gram Positive and Gram Negative Bacteria.”

International Journal of Molecular Sciences: “Annona muricata (Annonaceae): A Review of Its Traditional Uses, Isolated Acetogenins and Biological Activities.”

Encyclopaedia Britannica: “Soursop Plant and Fruit.”

USDA Food Data Central: “Soursop, Raw.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Graviola.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.