Soursop is a well known and highly regarded fruit in the tropical regions of Asia and South America but until recently was little known in the West. In cultures where it occurs naturally it is known not only as a delicious fruit, but as having health and medicinal benefits as well. Native to South America and sub-Saharan parts of Africa, soursop is also cultivated throughout southeast Asia, the Philippines and Indonesia and has become a staple fruit in those countries.
The Health Benefits of Soursop Fruit
Soursop fruit is packed with vitamins and other healthy ingredients. These include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B 1
- Vitamin B12
- Healthy fats
- Healthy carbohydrates
In addition, soursop fruit is cholesterol free and low in calories, making it an ideal snack or flavourful addition to a dessert.
Aside from the nutritional benefits of soursop fruit, the fruit, seeds and leaves of anona muricata (the botanical name of the soursop tree) have been used for centuries in a variety of ways in preventive and remedial medical treatments. Some of the traditional treatments include:
- Soursop fruit seeds are used to treat vomiting.
- Soursop leaves are made into a poultice and used for treating skin disorders.
- Soursop fruit pulp is applied directly on wounds to help speed up healing.
- Soursop root bark is used to treat poisoning.
- A leaf tea or decoction applied topically is used to get rid of head lice and bed bugs.
- Although controversial, many people claim soursop may be an effective treatment for cancer.
While there is as yet no scientific evidence to back up these claims, it is interesting to note that they are traditional remedies that have been used for centuries.
Culinary Uses for Soursop Fruit
Traditionally, soursop is simply cut into segments and the white pulp eaten along with the black seeds. A somewhat pulpy fruit, many people prefer to drink squeezed and chilled soursop juice. Soursop is now grown in tropical regions of Australia and is finding its way on to our supermarket shelves. Although still considered a novelty fruit by most, those who try it once look for it again and again. Because it bruises easily, the fruit is usually harvested unripe. The unripe soursop is dark green in appearance and hard to the touch. Within a few days, the skin turns a lighter shade of green and is softer to the touch. That is the perfect time to eat it.
Creative cooks are also finding many ways to use soursop in desserts. Soursop cheesecake has a distinctively delicious flavour and texture and it is used in homemade ice creams. Word is spreading fast about this exotic fruit and before long, it may become an Australian staple fruit, just as it is in so many other parts of the world.