By: Genna Marie
It’s guanábana in Spanish, and graviola in Portuguese. In Cambodia it’s prickly custard apple, in Thailand it’s Brazilian paw paw, and in the US it’s soursop fruit. Whatever you call it, this strange-looking fruit is finger-licking good and offers an impressive range of health benefits.
On the outside, the guanabana (pronounced gwa-nah-bah-nah) looks a lot like a green, misshapen football covered with spikes. On the inside it’s white, soft and fleshy with a smattering of smooth, black seeds. When it’s just the right amount of ripe the guanabana tastes like an explosion of sweet followed by a delectable sour tang.
Native to Mexico and Central and South America (and also the island of Cuba), the guanabana has been used in indigenous cultures as a medicinal food for centuries. It’s known to alleviate fevers, stomach aches, high blood pressure and parasites.
Once on the branch, the fruit takes 2-3 months to fully ripen (but only about 5 minutes to slice open and devour in one sitting). You know it’s ripe when it’s super soft to the touch and the spikes are black and break off easily.
Vitamins in a typical soursop:
- Vitamin C
magnesium (vital to 300+ bodily processes including protein synthesis and nerve function)
Can Soursop Cure Cancer?
These days guanabana has been touted as a cancer-fighting “miracle food.”
There is always a trendy (and expensive) wonder food en vogue – first it was noni fruit, then coconut and then goji berries. Lately, the guanabana has had its share of the spotlight. Some even go so far as to say it’s a magic bullet for cancer.
Psychology Today posted an article citing the guanabana’s potential, and urging researchers to give the fruit more attention. Several studies indicate the leaves and stems of the guanabana tree show enormous promise as a cancer killer, and might be an ideal treatment to use side-by-side with conventional methods like chemo.
But don’t get too excited. According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, “A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry in 1997 suggests that soursop compounds tested on breast cancer cells in culture were more effective than chemotherapy in destroying the cells. But, without clinical trials, there is no data to support the claim.”
In other words: give it a whirl as a preventative measure, just don’t use it as a substitute for medical treatment if you actually have cancer. You wouldn’t want to put all of your guanabanas in one basket. Those things are heavy!
Guanabana in Costa Rica[trafficplayer_youtube_video width=”640″ height=”385″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/xf7WviHHLfs?&autohide=0&autoplay=0&controls=1&hd=0&rel=0&showinfo=0″ ][/trafficplayer_youtube_video]
In Costa Rica, the guanabana is most commonly consumed in energy-packed smoothies known as batidos. You can find them at most sodas, or roadside typical restaurants.
The best guanabanas in the country come from the San Carlos area, and cost around $5 per kilo. This fruit loves Costa Rica’s hot and sunny weather, so guanabanas are available almost all year round – keep an eye out for them on roadside fruit stands and get ‘em while they’re ripe.
Guanabana batido (aka soursop smoothie) – This is the easiest recipe ever. Just drop the cold or frozen fruit in the blender (be sure to remove the seeds first!) with some ice. That’s it!