Meet the tropical fruit with big (and controversial) health claims. 

By Melanie Fincher
September 02, 2020
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Ever heard of soursop? Here in the states, it's not a fruit you'll find in your typical produce aisle. But this tropical fruit is used worldwide for both cooking and medicinal purposes. Here you'll learn everything you need to know about soursop, including what it tastes like, its health benefits, and how to cook and eat it. 

What Is Soursop and What Does It Taste Like?

Soursop, also known as a custard apple, guanabana, guyabano, graviola, or Brazilian paw paw, is a tropical fruit native to the American tropics. It is grown on the Annona muricata tree, and has a greenish-yellow color, prickly skin, and creamy, white flesh. 

Its taste is often described as a combination of strawberry and apple, but with a little citrus mixed in. It's most commonly found in Caribbean, South American, and Southeast Asian cuisines, where it's used as an ingredient in beverages, syrups, ice creams, or just eaten raw. 

But thanks to its numerous health benefits (more on that below), many parts of the plants are used in traditional medicine throughout Africa, the Caribbean, and South America.

Soursop Health Benefits

When it comes to its medicinal use, soursop is somewhat controversial. There's no denying this tropical fruit has some big health claims, but naysayers argue that there is only anecdotal evidence to prove its health benefits. 

Limited, test-tube studies have shown that soursop could potentially eliminate some cancer cells, although experts warn against using soursop to fight against cancer as it hasn't been studied in humans. 

Aside from its claimed cancer-fighting properties, soursop has also been shown through animal and test-tube studies to reduce blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and to have antibacterial properties. But once again, these properties have not been studied in humans, so it cannot yet be concluded soursop is an effective alternative to traditional medicine.  

But like many other fruits, soursop does boast high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C, which are both key to keeping a healthy immune system.

The bottom line: This is a healthy fruit that, like other types of fruit, provides essential vitamins and minerals when added to your diet. But any extreme health claims, such as soursop's supposed effectiveness against cancer, cannot be confirmed without being studied in humans.

Soursop fruits at a market
Credit: Seinny Oktafena/EyeEm/Getty Images

Where to Buy Soursop

You likely won't find soursop at commercial supermarkets or big-box stores. To buy soursop, you'll need to head to your local international grocery store or market.

You'll find it in the produce section along with other tropical fruits and vegetables. Ripe soursop will be more yellow than green, and soft to the touch. Store it in the fridge for up to four days. 

How to Cook and Eat Soursop

Because of its sweet flavor and creamy texture (much like that of a banana) soursop is most often used in sweet recipes rather than savory. These include beverages, smoothies, and even ice cream.

Don't know where to start? Try this Soursop Punch recipe from recipe creator jaci who says, "One of my favorite beverages when I was a little girl was made with the soursop fruit. You can use either white or brown sugar for this punch."

If you want to eat it raw, it's best to simply cut your soursop in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon (you'll have to work around the seeds or spit them out as you go). Because of its stringy texture, soursop is going to be difficult to cut up into cubes, hence the need to scoop it out with a spoon. 

Related: Browse our entire collection of Fruit Recipes.