Soursop or graviola also known as “aluguntugui” in Ghana, is well-known for some health benefits; especially in recent times, the use of parts of the fruit and even parts of the tree that produces the fruit, has been linked to some healing effect on cancer and helps to prevent heart diseases.
But how true are these health claims? Could this be another fruit with a ‘goldmine’ of health benefits we have ignored? Or it is just one of those marketing strategies?
Currently, there is no scientific evidence to show that this fruit works as a cure for cancer. Though there has been some success in some laboratory studies where extracts from “aluguntugui” were used to kill some types of liver cancer cells and some breast cancer cells which are resistant to chemotherapy treatments; this, however, is not enough to show that the extracts from the fruits are effective at killing cancer cells in humans because these experiments haven’t been tried in humans.
What happens in laboratory experiments in such cases may not necessarily happen in humans, so further scientific studies need to be conducted to conclusively prove that ‘aluguntugui’ really cures cancer.
Some argue that, the fruit helps to ease blood flow thereby allowing it to help in the prevention of heart diseases. This is another area scientists are yet to explore to give recommendations on whether or not people with heart disease could resort to the fruit to help improve their condition.
A review suggests that people who consume large quantities of the fruit and tea made from the leaves, could be at risk of some form of nerve damage because these products of the tree contain some amount of a neurotoxin (a chemical which acts on the nervous system as a poison), contrary to the popular notion that the fruit prevents nerve diseases.
Once again, this concern is as a result of the findings in a laboratory research. A lot more research has to be conducted to confirm or disprove this effect of the parts of the plant on the body.
Another health claim associated with the consumption of ‘shawshopu’, as the Nigerians call it, is its ability to kill some parasites. Research has shown that the fruit and its seeds contain some chemicals which are capable of killing parasites such as bacteria, fungi, some viruses and even lice.
In spite of all these inconclusive health claims, the fruit is nutritious. The soursop fruit contains vitamin C, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium.
A 100-gram serving of the fruit contains enough vitamin C to meet about 70% of your daily requirement for vitamin C, enough vitamin B3 to satisfy about 10% of your daily vitamin B3 requirement, and enough potassium to provide you with about 18% of your daily potassium requirement.
It is also a good source of fibre. Fibre is an important component of food which has several proven health benefits. One benefit of eating foods containing fibre is its lowering effect on blood cholesterol level.
All in all, foods including beverages containing the fruit are not likely to cause harmful effect on the body when eaten as part of a normal diet in moderation.
It is very important to be very cautious of the use of diet supplements and other health products made with extracts of this fruit.
By: Bezalel Adainoo/ [email protected]
The author is a food scientist. He’s also the Content Creator and Host Author of Stay Well Now (www.staywellnow.com), a blog dedicated to delivering the right information to readers with respect to food and how it affects their health.