Soursop / Guayabano- nutrition, health benefits and recipes

The scientific name of soursop is Annona muricata. It ia also known as Prickly custard appleBrazilian pawpaw, Graviola, Mullaatha, Shulramfal, Lakshmana phala, Guyabano, Guanabana, Corossol, and Catoche.

Other names include

DUTCH : Zuurzak.

CHAMORRO: Laguana, Laguanaha, Syasyap.

FIJIAN: Sarifa, Seremaia.

FRENCH : Cachiman épineux, Corossol (Antilles), Corossolier, Corossol épineux, Sapotille.

GERMAN : Sauersack, Stachelannone, Stachel-Annone.

INDONESIA : Buah sirsak, Nangka belanda

JAPANESE : Toge banreishi.

MALAYSIA : Durian belanda, Durian makkah, Durian maki, seri kaya belanda.


PORTUGUESE : Araticum, Araticum-do-grande, Cabeça-de-negro, Guanabano, Coração-da-rainha

RUSSIAN : Annona murikata.

SAMOAN: Sanalapa, Sasalapa, Sasalpa.

SPANISH : Anona de broquel, Catuche, Guanaba, Guanábana, Guanábano, Zapote agrio, Zapote de viejas

THAI : Thurian khaek, Thurian thet.

VIETNAMESE : Mang cân xiem, Mang câù xiê.

It is is a small tree, usually less than 7 meters high. Fruit is ovoid and large, up to 18 centimeters long, covered with small scattered, soft spinelike processes. Skin is thin, and the pulp is soft, rather fibrous, white, and fleshy, with an agreeable, but rather sour flavor.

It is found in many regions across the world including Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, China, Australia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Venezuela, Argentina, West Africa, Mexico, Philippines, Sri Lanka and India.

How to check for ripeness of Soursop?

Quality soursop yields gently when pressed. The best fruits are picked only when ripe; while slightly immature fruits will grow softer, they will never possess the same robust, complex flavors as truly ripe soursops. Do not be deterred if the plucked soursop’s skin goes from dark green to brown or black—the flesh may still be perfectly edible.

It come in varying sizes and textures: some are the size of a small jackfruit and spiky, while others are the size of an orange and bumpy. Some are delicious when light green; others require a deep greenish-brown color to indicate ripeness. Given these variations, rely on touch as the primary indicator.

Soursop nutrition value and facts

Fruit is an excellent source of vitamins B and C. A 100 gm of edible soursop has about 66 calories. It contains

16.8 g Carbohydrates

3.3 g Fiber (13% RDI)

0.3 g Fat (negligible)

1 g Protein (2% RDI)

20.6 mg Vitamin C (34% RDI)

Thiamin (5% RDI)

0.1 mg Riboflavin (3% RDI)

0.9 mg Niacin (5% RDI)

0.1 mg Vitamin B6 (3% RDI)

14 mcg Folate (3% RDI)

0.3 mg Pantothenic Acid (3% RDI)

0.6 mg Iron (3% RDI)

21 mg Magnesium (5% RDI)

27 mg Phosphorous (3% RDI)

278 mg Potassium (8% RDI)

0.1 mg Copper (4% RDI)

Soursop Medicinal Properties

– Fruit is reported antiscorbutic and astringent.
– Flowers are pectoral.
– Leaves are antispasmodic.
– Seeds are emetic.
– Infusion of leaves are sudorific.
– Recent studies suggest a potential for antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal,antiparasitic, antileishmanial, antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory, antihyperglycemic, hypotensive, immune-enhancing, and anti-cancer properties.

Traditional uses of soursop

· Unripe fruit used for dysentery.

· Ripe fruit is antiscorbutic.

· Seeds and green fruit are astringent.

· Flowers are antispasmodic.

· Infusion of leaves used as sudorific, antispasmodic and emetic.

· In some cultures, the fruits and leaves are used for tranquilizing and sedative properties.

· Juice of ripe fruit used as diuretic and for hematuria and urethritis.

· Flesh of soursop used as poultice to draw out chiggers.

·Decoction of leaves used of head lice and bedbugs.

· Pulverized seeds and seed oil effective for head lice.

· Fruit used as a bait in fish traps.

· Decoction of leaves used as compresses for inflammation and swollen feet.

· Poultice of mashed leaves and sap of young leaves used for eczema and skin eruptions.

· Flowers used to alleviate catarrh.

· Used as tonic by Chinese and Malays.

· In Mexico used as pectoral, antiscorbutic and febrifuge; seeds and green fruit used as astringent and for dysentery.

· In Yucatan juice of the fruit is used for dysentery.

· In Cameroon, leaves used for diabetes.

· In Antiles and Reunion, infusion of leaves used as sudorific.

· In the Peruvian Andes, leaf tea is used for catarrh and crushed seeds for parasitism.

· In the Peruvian Amazon, bark, roots and leaves used for diabetes, as sedative and as antispasmodic.

· In the Brazilian Amazon, the oil of leaves and unripe fruit is mixed with olive oil and used externally for neuralgic, rheumatism and arthritis pains.

· For a good night’s sleep, leaves are put in the pillow slip or strewn in bed.

Scientific proven health benefits and studies on Soursop

Anti-Diabetes/ Anti-oxidants

Study of aqueous extract of soursop has antidiabetic activity. The effect was attributed to its hypolipidemic effect, its antioxidant and protective action of pancreatic ß-cells, which improved glucose metabolism.

Anti-Herpes Simplex Virus

Study showed the extract of Annona muricata to inhibit the cytopathic effect of HSV-1 on vero cells indicating an anti-HSV1 potential.


There are much publicized studies on the anti-tumor, anti-cancer and selective toxicity of Annona muricata against several types of cancer cells. One study showed that one of the acetoginins was selectively cytotoxic to colon adenocarcinoma cells, with a potency 10,000 times that of adriamycin.

• Antineoplastic (prevent, inhibit or halt the development of a neoplasm (a tumor))

Annonaceous acetogenin (polyketide) is a potential antineoplastic agent from the Annonaceae plants. Study on the chemical constituents of Annona muricata yielded two new a acetogenins acetogenins: Muricatalicin (I) and muricatalin (VI), a mesitoate of a new acetogenin, annonacin-B mesitoate (Vb), and three known acetogenins, annonacin (II), annonacin-A (III) and annonacin-10-one (IV).

Anti-Hyperlipidemia (helps remove excessive lipid content in the blood plasma)

Study of methanolic extracts of AM on serum lipid profiles in experimentally-induced diabetic Wistar rats showed antihyperlipidemic activities with significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL and VLDL and a significant increase in HDL and antiatherogenic index.


Graviola may have antidepressive activity due to its ability to stimulate serotonin receptors.

• Antimicrobial

Study has shown that Annona muricata extract of leaves exhibited a broad spectrum of activity against a panel of bacteria (B. subtilis, Staph aureus, K. pneumonia, P. vulgaris, etc.) responsible for common bacterial diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea, UTIs and skin infections.

Decreased Lipid Peroxidation / Increased Insulin Production and Endogenous Antioxidants

Study evaluated the protective effects of A. muricata leaf extract in rat experimental paradigms of diabetes. Study showed a protective, beneficial effect on hepatic tissues subjected to STZ-induced oxidative stress, possibly by decreasing lipid peroxidation and indirectly enhancing the production of insulin and endogenous antioxidants.

Sterols / Biologic Activities

Study of dichlormethane extract of freeze-dried fruit solated six sterols compounds from A. muricata for the first time:: β-sitosterone (1), β-sitosteryl fatty acid ester (2) and β-sitosterol (3); and the triterpenes: α-amyrin (4), β-amyrin (5) and squalene (6). ß- sitosterone has shown significant hypoglycemic, antiarrhythmic and antitubercular activities. ß-sitosterol has exhibited inhibition of proliferation and induced apoptosis in human solid tumors. α-amyrin and ß-amyrin have shown anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Squalene has shown cardioprotective effect and significantly suppressed colonic ACF formation and crypt multiplicity.

Effect on Liver Function Enzymes / Seeds

 Study of methanolic extract of seed in alloxan-induced diabetic rats significantly decreased serum ALP, AST, and ALT and restored cytoarchitecture of liver hepatocytes.

Toxicity Studies / Leaves

 Study evaluated aqueous extract of leaves for toxicity in acute and subchronic models in animals. Results showed no toxic effect in animals’ tissues at low and moderate doses but could cause kidney damage in higher doses. Study also showed antidiabetic effect by lowering of plasma glucose level, with positive effects on cardiovascular risk factors.

Antibacterial / Pods

In a study aqueous extracts of soursop showed an antibacterial effect against Staphylococcus aureus and V. cholerae. Ethanol extracts showed no activity.

Chemopreventive / Leaves / Skin Papillomagenesis

Study evaluated the chemopreventive effects of ethanolic extract of leaves in a two-stage model of skin papillomagenesis induced by DMBA. Results showed tumor growth from the AMLE-treated group showed only slight hyperplasia and absence of keratin pearls and rete ridges, suggesting suppression of tumor initiation as well as tumor promotion.

Renal Toxicity with Long-Term Use / Leaves

Study investigated ethanolic leaf extracts effects on the level of serum creatinine and damage of tubular cell structure affecting kidney function and caspase-9 expression in glomerulus and tubular cells. Results showed Annona muricata at dose of 10, 20, and 40 mg kbw in saline orally for 40 days caused histological changes in kidney cell and effects on tubular structure leading to renal failure. For long term use, kidney function should be monitored.

Acetogenins / Anticancer Effects / Seeds and Fruit

According to a study, Dichloromethane extract of seeds yielded annoreticuin-9-one (1) while fruit flesh yielded cis-annoreticuin (2) and sabadelin (3). Acetogenin 1 showed cytotoxic activity against human pancreatic tumor cell line (PACA-2), human prostate adenoca (PC-3) and human lung carcinoma (A-549). Compound 2 showed cytotoxicity against human hepatoma carcinoma cell line (Hep G2).

Antioxidant / Bark

In vitro study evaluated an ethanolic bark extract for antioxidant activity by DPPH, hydroxyl radical scavenging assay and reducing power method. Results showed significant antioxidant activity.

Uric Acid Inhibition / Leaves

Study evaluated the uric acid inhibition activity of leaf extract in hyperuricemia induced wistar rats. Result showed the highest extract dose of 400 mg/KBW was able to inhibit uric acid formation. Inhibition of uric acid formation might be attributed to the activity of three dominant components, i.e., 2,3-dihidrobenzofuran; 3-ethoxy-1,4,4a,5,6,7,8,8a-octahydroisoquinoline; 2-cyclohexen-1-one, 4-hydroxy-3,5,6-trimethyl-4-(3-oxo-1-butenyl).

Nutrient Composition / Pulp and Drink

Nutrient composition of pulp and drink showed a carbohydrate content 72.71% and 83.47%, fiber 6.26% and 3.47%, retinol 192.50 IU and 63.76 IU, ascorbic acid 22.59 mg/110g and 34.71 mg/100 g, flavonoids 9.32 and 5.24 mg/100 g, and tannin 65.98 and 53.96 mg/100 g. Mineral content—potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus— were quite low compared with other conventional fruits. Results reveal an appreciable amount of micronutrients which can be incorporated into diets of vulnerable groups.

Antiproliferative / Leaves / Acid Inhibition / Prostate, BPH-1 Cells

Study evaluated the effect of aqueous leaf extract on human BPH-1 cells and prostate organ. Results demonstrated antiproliferative effects with reduced prostate size, possibly through apoptosis.

Cytotoxicity / Breast Cancer Lines / Leaves

Study showed an ethanol extract of leaves has cytotoxic activity in T47D breast cancer cell lines probably through cell apoptosis.

· Presence of alkaloids anonaine and anoniine have been reported. The bark yields muricine and muricinine and is high in hydrocyanic acid; small amounts are found in the leaves and roots, and a trace in the fruit.

· Seed and seed coat of soursop yield toxicants—tannin 2.6 mg/100 g (seed), 4.9 mg/100 g (seed coat); phytate 620.5 mg/100 g (S), 188.0 (SC); cyanide 3.7 mg/kg (S), 10.8 mg/kg (SC).

· Caribbean study suggested a connection between consumption of soursop and atypical forms of Parkinson’s disease due to the very high concentration of Annonacin.

· Graviola may cause movement disorders and myeloneuropathy with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease.

How to Open or Cut Soursop

Soursops are easily prepared, as they require little more than cutting in half, taking out the long “heart” in the center (though this chewier part is edible) and slicing the flesh into bite-sized chunks. The leathery green skin isn’t edible, nor are the large, shiny seeds embedded in the fruit. The few seeds and large size makes it easy to remove them.

Storage tips

Soursops keep for up to 7 days at room temperature, and longer if lightly chilled. Chilling the fruit, below 15C, however, is discouraged—the flavor is adversely affected and the skin discolors quickly.

Soursop recipe ideas and uses

Juicy ripe fruit is eaten raw; also used in making beverages, ice cream, and jelly tarts.

Blend and strain soursop to make a juice

Make ice cream/popsicles by blending the fruit with some nut milk (or coconut milk) and freezing.

Prepare salad dressing by combining the strained juice and whisk with white wine vinegar, garlic powder, mustard, basil, mint, and olive oil.

Make soursop mousse by using silken tofu as the base. Blend with avocado, mango or passion fruit, and soursop.

Make soursop custard by boiling sugar, cornstarch, salt and coconut milk. Stir constantly. When removed, stir blended soursop flesh and coconut flesh into the mixture. Chill overnight.

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