Another entry into our Philippines Superfoods series is the Guyabano, also known as the Soursop and Graviola. It is a powerhouse superfood that’s super delicious.
What Does It Look Like?
The Filipino guyabano is another spiky fruit kind of like the durian, but the spikes on the guyabano aren’t as hard and sharp. Usually, by the time the get to you, the spikes bend over from handling.
The exterior is green with brown tones. The flesh is light cream-colored or white and the seeds are dark brown or black.
At the supermarket, the guyabano ranges from softball-sized to about as big as a pineapple. At vendor stands, they are often larger. The fruits grow off of the trunk of the tree like langka (jackfruit).
What Does It Taste Like?
The guyabano has a unique taste! Most people describe it as being sweet and sour. Wikipedia describes it as being a cross between pineapple and strawberry with a citrus kick. There’s a reason the fruit is called soursop, though. Most people find it more sour than sweet, the same way grapefruit is.
How Do I Eat It?
Guyabano is pretty easy to get into when it’s ripe. Just slice it lengthwise and pull the halves apart. A ripe fruit should have flesh that’s easy to scoop out with a spoon. If you’ve eaten jackfruit before, you will recognize the rectangular sections of the guyabano. The seeds are inedible and contain a neurotoxin, so don’t much on them.
If you’d rather not eat the fruit (which you really should, because it’s high in fiber), guyabano juice is widely available. However, the juice is most likely watered down and has added sugar to make it more drinkable.
Some people make “tea” from the leaves of the guyabano tree. I don’t know how that’s done and I do not recommend it.
Is It Nutritious?
The short answer to this question is, “Yes!” The long answer is, well, longer.
The Cancer Connection
The guyabano has exploded in popularity lately because of its rumored cancer-fighting properties. A simple Google search brings up hundreds of sites claiming that drinking the juice or a “tea” made from the leaves, taking supplement pills containing powder from some part of the fruit or tree, or taking a mix of all three can cure some, or all, cancers.
Sites that exist to debunk hoaxes disclaim the soursop as a cancer cure. Other sites that are in business to tout “natural” cures claim the leaves from the guyabano tree are “1,000 times stronger at killing cancer cells than chemotherapy”.
The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center says that fighting cancer is one of the fruits “purported” uses. The site explains, “Graviola has been shown effective against cancer cells in lab studies. Human studies have not been conducted.”
In Great Britain, the charity Cancer Research UK says, “Overall, there is no evidence to show that graviola works as a cure for cancer. In laboratory studies, graviola extracts can kill some types of liver and breast cancer cells that are resistant to particular chemotherapy drugs. But there haven’t been any studies in humans. So we don’t know whether it can work as a cancer treatment or not.”
On the other side of the coin, there are those on the internet who claim that all cancer charities are scams that don’t really want a cure for cancer found because that will put them out of business.
The bottom line is that there are claims made about soursop but there is no scientific proof that soursop fights or cures cancer.
The Real Deal
What is known about guyabano is that it is loaded with nutrition. It’s high in Vitamin C and a good source of Omega-6 fatty acids. It’s also a good source of Thiamin and Potassium as well as other vitamins and minerals:
Like many fruits of the Philippines, the guyabano is also what I call a “Backyard Food“. Trees are sold at many nurseries and lots of people have one in their yard. Including me! Ours hasn’t fruited yet but when it does we’ll have some delicious and nutritious guyabano!
I hope you enjoyed this installment of Filipino Superfoods and I hope you learned something. If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the Comments section below.
Information from NutritionData.com was used in this article.