I have to admit that a fruit known as ‘soursop’ does not sound very appetizing. Plus, its spiky green skin makes it appear slightly dangerous. But an important part of writing this blog is to introduce you to new and interesting foods that help promote health and well-being. I have (and probably will again) written blogs about ‘Ten Top Foods for Reducing Inflammation’ or ‘The Nutritional Benefits of Citrus Fruit’. These are important and useful topics. But I am always on the lookout for unique foods, topics and trends that you won’t find just anywhere.
Soursop, also known as guanabana, graviola or paw-paw (those are better names, aren’t they?) comes from a broadleaf, flowering, evergreen tree native to Mexico, Cuba, Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. The rind is bitter but the flesh is creamy white, soft, smooth, sweet and studded with purplish-black seeds, similar to cherimoya, another tropical fruit.
When it comes to flavor, fresh guanabana has been described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with some sour citrus notes and an underlying creamy flavor reminiscent of coconut or banana. The smooth, creamy pulp is used to make fruit nectar, smoothies, fruit juice drinks, as well as candies, sorbets, and ice cream flavorings. Look for fresh guanabana (or by any of it other names) in ethnic, especially Latino markets. You can purchase fresh guanabanas, packaged or frozen pulp and dried graviola leaves on Amazon.
The pulp of one seven-inch guanabana is high in carbohydrates, containing about 412 calories. But it also contains 214% of the RDA for vitamin C, 49% for potassium, 84% dietary fiber and 32% magnesium among other nutrients including significant amounts of iron, vitamin B-6 and even some protein.
A number of years ago, I did some research into guanabana because I had heard that it had antioxidant properties and may be helpful for fighting diseases such as cancer. There is some evidence that guanabana contains a number of natural substances that have biological activity. According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the fruit contains fatty compounds called acetogenins, especially one called annonacin, which has been studied for its potential to prevent or slow the growth of cancer. The Cancer Center also suggested that some compounds in guanabana may be naturally antiviral and anti-parasitic, and may also suppress inflammation.
Herbal medicine practitioners use guanabana fruit and graviola tree leaves to treat stomach ailments, fever, parasitic infections, hypertension and rheumatism. It’s also used as a sedative. All of these medical uses for guanabana are anecdotal. There have been no clinical trials, therefore no hard data to support the claims.
However, what can’t be disputed is the nutritional value of guanabana with its generous amounts of infection-fighting vitamin C, potassium to help regulate blood pressure and fiber for aiding digestive tract health. The dried graviola tree leaves contain essential vitamins and minerals, which are also antioxidant rich and boost the immune system.
In my first book, The Age GRACEFULLY Cookbook, there is an easy and delicious beverage featuring guanabana. Called, Soursop Lassi, it’s essentially a lassi drink from India made with yogurt and a pinch of salt. Mango lassi is very popular in Indian restaurants. I put a South American spin on the healthful drink by using guanabana in place of the mango. Guanabana provides antioxidants, vitamin C and riboflavin. Yogurt has beneficial probiotics that aid digestion and gut health.
Soursop (Guanabana) Lassi
2 cups plain non-fat yogurt
½ tsp. salt
4 Tbs. honey (optional)
2 cups Soursop (guanabana) pulp
Mint leaves for garnish
Combine the yogurt, salt, honey and Soursop in a blender and mix at low speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Garnish with the mint leaves if desired.
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Each recipe provides an at-a-glance guide detailing key ingredients and how they increase health and longevity.
Delicious foods and rejuvenating nutrients combine to create The Age GRACEfully Cookbook and The Age Beautifully Cookbook, a collection of enticing and nourishing recipes that promote health and well-being for a joyful and sustainable life. FoodTrients are essential ingredients found in specific foods, herbs and spices, that help promote longevity, prevent the diseases of aging, and increase energy and vitality.