Soursop: The medicinal fruit

Soursop fruits on display at Nakasero market. All the parts of the soursop tree are medicinal and have recently gained attention and popularity due to its natural cancer cell killing properties in both the fruit and the leaves. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • The fruit has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also rich in chemotherapeutic compounds. Once the cancer is detected in its early stages ( stage one), the fruit as well as its boiled leaves daily may be taken in addition with chemotherapy medication to help cure some cancers such as breast, liver and prostate cancers. 

Soursop, commonly known as “ekitafeli” in Luganda, but thought to have different other names depending on the location, is one of the healthiest fruits in the world. Although not so many people grow them for commercial purposes, the soursop is gaining popularity in Uganda and one can get them from Nakasero market and depending on the size, one can cost between Shs4000 and Shs7000.

The fruit has creamy, fragrant, juicy flesh covered with a green soft spiny skin. Also known as graviola, custard apple, or Brazilian pawpaw, it is one of the most recommended fruits for cancer prevention worldwide.

Both the fruit and the leaves are said to contain many other antioxidants, such as phytosterols, tannins, and flavonoids. Antioxidants play a role in one’s overall health and may help to protect against a variety of health conditions. 

“All the parts of the soursop tree are medicinal and have recently gained attention and popularity due to its natural cancer cell killing properties in both the fruit and the leaves,” Amanda Twebaze, a nutritionist says.  

Fights inflammation

The antioxidants contained in the soursop fight free radicals thereby reducing the damage to the body cells caused by oxidative stress. One of the side effects of oxidative stress is inflammation. 

The fruit has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also rich in chemotherapeutic compounds. Once the cancer is detected in its early stages ( stage one), the fruit as well as its boiled leaves daily may be taken in addition with chemotherapy medication to help cure some cancers such as breast, liver and prostate cancers. 

“The anti-cancer properties in the fruit target cancerous and other malignant cells for destruction while leaving healthy cells intact,”Twebaze says. 

The soursop fruit is laden with nutrients such as calcium, vitamins B and C, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. “These help to boost the body’s immunity to fight infections and ward off chronic disease and boost immunity,” Twebaze says.

Proper digestion

Soursop is a vital nutrient for proper digestive health because it contains high amounts of fibre. One whole soursop fruit contains around 83 percent of the recommended daily allowance of fibre. “Fibre helps to promote regularity of bowel movements and prevent digestive issues such as constipation,” Cindy Mutessasira, a nutritionist, shares.

Additionally, soursop is said to have antibacterial effects including strains that prevent gum disease and cavities. It also contains high amounts of vitamin C and protects the skin from environmental oxidative damage.

Most soursop is picked before the fruit is fully ripened. Therefore, while the unripe fruit is green, it turns to a yellow-green to indicate maturity. It is usually softer when you press it and once ripe, store it in a refrigerator and use it within a few days. 

Soursop is delicious when eaten as a fruit but you can also have it as an addition to your smoothie and juices. However, Twebaze cautions against eating or blending soursop seeds because they have toxic compounds and may cause harmful side effects. “Remember to remove the seeds before eating or blending the fruit,” she warns. 

Stabilises blood pressure

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to serious complications such as heart disease and heart attack. High sodium intake is one of the contributors to high blood pressure but potassium found in soursop helps the body to get rid of the excess sodium. 

“Increased amounts of sodium, creates tension in the walls of the blood vessels.  In the long run, it increases blood pressure. Soursop comes in very handy because a whole fruit offers approximately one-third to one-half of your recommended daily allowance of potassium intake. That relieves one from getting high blood pressure or lowering its impact,” Mutessasira. 

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