Soursop is the fruit of Annona muricata, a broadleaf, flowering, evergreen tree native to Mexico, Cuba, Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America, primarily Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Soursop is also produced in Mozambique, Somalia and Uganda. Today, it is also grown in some areas of Southeast Asia, as well as in some Pacific islands. It was most likely brought from Mexico to the Philippines by way of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade. It is in the same genus as the chirimoya and the same family as the pawpaw.
The soursop is adapted to areas of high humidity and relatively warm winters; temperatures below 5 °C (41 °F) will cause damage to leaves and small branches, and temperatures below 3 °C (37 °F) can be fatal. The fruit becomes dry and is no longer good for concentrate.
Other common names include: "Coração de Boi" Mozambique, Evo (Ewe, Volta Region, Ghana),"Ekitafeeli", Uganda, Aluguntugui (Ga, Greater Accra Region, Ghana) guanábana (Spanish), graviola (Brazilian Portuguese, pronounced: [gɾɐviˈɔlɐ]), anona (European Portuguese), corossol (French),කටු අනෝදා (Sinhalese), sorsaka (Papiamento), adunu (Acholi), Brazilian pawpaw, guyabano, guanavana, toge-banreisi, durian benggala, durian belanda, nangka blanda, thu-rian khack (Thai), sirsak, zuurzak (Dutch) and nangka londa. In Malayalam, it is called mullaatha, literally thorny custard apple. The other lesser-known Indian names are shul-ram-fal and Lakshmana Phala. and in Harar (Ethiopia) in Harari language known for centuries as Amba Shoukh (Thorny Mango or Thorny Fruit).
Cultivation and uses
The plant is grown as a commercial herb crop for its 20–30 cm (7.9–12 in) long, prickly, green fruit, which can have a mass of up to 15 lb (6.8 kg), making it probably the second biggest annona after the junglesop.
Away from its native area, some limited production occurs as far north as southern Florida within USDA Zone 10; however, these are mostly garden plantings for local consumption. It is also grown in parts of Southeast Asia and abundant on the Island of Mauritius. The soursop will reportedly fruit as a container specimen, even in temperate climates, if protected from cool temperatures.
The flesh of the fruit consists of an edible, white pulp, some fiber, and a core of indigestible, black seeds. The species is the only member of its genus suitable for processing and preservation. The sweet pulp is used to make juice, as well as candies, sorbets, and ice cream flavorings.
In Mexico, Colombia and Harar (Ethiopia), it is a common fruit, often used for dessert as the only ingredient, or as an agua fresca beverage; in Colombia, it is a fruit for juices, mixed with milk. Ice cream and fruit bars made of soursop are also very popular. The seeds are normally left in the preparation, and removed while consuming, unless a blender is used for processing.
In Indonesia, dodol sirsak, a sweetmeat, is made by boiling soursop pulp in water and adding sugar until the mixture hardens. Soursop is also a common ingredient for making fresh fruit juices that are sold by street food vendors. In the Philippines, it is called guyabano, obviously derived from the Spanish guanabana, and is eaten ripe, or used to make juices, smoothies, or ice cream. Sometimes, they use the leaf in tenderizing meat. In Vietnam, this fruit is called mãng cầu Xiêm in the south, or mãng cầu in the north, and is used to make smoothies, or eaten as is. In Cambodia, this fruit is called tearb barung, literally "western custard-apple fruit." In Malaysia, it is known in Malay as durian belanda and in East Malaysia, specifically among the Dusun people of Sabah, it is locally known as lampun. Popularly, it is eaten raw when it ripens, or used as one of the ingredients in Ais Kacang or Ais Batu Campur. Usually the fruits are taken from the tree when they mature and left to ripen in a dark corner, whereby they will be eaten when they are fully ripe. It has a white flower with a very pleasing scent, especially in the morning. While for people in Brunei Darussalam this fruit is popularly known as "Durian Salat", widely available and easily planted.
In the United States, soursop has been used by the New Belgium Brewing Company in their Rolle Bolle summer seasonal beer.
Preliminary in vitro laboratory research suggests that soursop may have potential to treat some infections. Research carried out in the Caribbean has suggested a connection between consumption of soursop and atypical forms of Parkinson's disease due to the very high concentration of annonacin.
Many sites on the internet advertise and promote soursop/graviola capsules as a cancer cure.
According to Cancer Research UK, "there is no evidence to show that graviola works as a cure for cancer" and consequently they do not support its use as a treatment for cancer. A court case relating to the sale in the UK of Triamazon, a soursop product, resulted in convictions on four counts related to selling an unlicensed medical product. The judge said that the drug had not been tested on human beings, was not licenced for use in UK markets and could cause symptoms similar to Parkinson’s Disease.
The Federal Trade Commission in the United States determined that there was "no credible scientific evidence" that the extract of soursop sold by Bioque Technologies "can prevent, cure, or treat cancer of any kind."
The compound annonacin contained in the seeds of soursop is a neurotoxin and it seems to be the cause of a neurodegenerative disease. The only group of people known to be affected live on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and the problem presumably occurs with the excessive consumption of plants containing annonacin. The disorder is a so-called tauopathy associated with a pathologic accumulation of tau protein in the brain. Experimental results demonstrated for the first time that the plant neurotoxin annonacin is responsible for this accumulation.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Annona muricata|
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