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Is Soursop Bad For You?

Also Known As: Graviola, Guanábana, Brazilian paw paw



Short answer

Soursop (graviola) provides numerous health benefits, such as antioxidants and vitamins. Studies suggest potential anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, but also indicate risk of neurotoxicity that could be tied to neurological conditions like Parkinson’s. For most, consuming soursop in moderation is safe and beneficial, especially when balanced with other healthy foods. However, those with neurodegenerative diseases or taking certain medications should exercise caution. The anti-cancer claims require more scientific validation. Opt for the flesh of the fruit and avoid overconsumption to minimize potential risks.



Long answer

Soursop (Graviola): Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits

Soursop, also known as graviola, is a fruit that is not only prized for its unique flavor but also for its nutritional and health-promoting properties. This tropical fruit hails from the evergreen tree Annona muricata, common in the forests of Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. Its popularity in traditional medicine has garnered attention from the scientific community, leading to research into its potential health benefits.

At its core, soursop is rich in vitamins and minerals. It includes a significant amount of vitamin C, which is fundamental for immune function, skin health, and antioxidant protection. This fruit also contains a range of B vitamins, such as thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, which play crucial roles in energy metabolism and brain function.

  • Vitamin C: Known for its immune-boosting and antioxidant properties.
  • B Vitamins: Aid in metabolism and support neurological health.
  • Potassium: Essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure and heart function.
  • Magnesium: Important for muscle relaxation and nerve function.
  • Fiber: Promotes healthy digestion and can aid in weight management.
Nutrient Quantity per 100g
Calories 66
Protein 1g
Carbohydrates 16.84g
Dietary Fiber 3.3g
Sugars 13.54g
Fat 0.3g
Vitamin C 20.6mg
Folate (B9) 14 µg
Calcium 14mg
Magnesium 21mg
Potassium 278mg

Regarding health benefits, beyond its nutritional content, soursop has been historically used in alternative medicine for its potential therapeutic effects. Here are some of the health benefits that are currently being explored in scientific research:

  • Antioxidant Properties: Soursop contains a variety of antioxidants, which help combat oxidative stress and may play a role in preventing diseases. A study published in the journal Food Chemistry found that soursop fruit and its juice possess bioactive compounds such as flavonoids and tannins which have antioxidative characteristics.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: Chronic inflammation can lead to various health issues, and the compounds found in soursop may offer anti-inflammatory benefits, according to a report in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
  • Cancer Research: Although not conclusive and still in the early stages, some in vitro studies have suggested that certain compounds in soursop, such as acetogenins, could have anti-cancer properties. The Journal of Ethnopharmacology published findings that show graviola extracts can inhibit the growth of certain cancer cell lines.
  • Analgesic Effects: Some research indicates that soursop may have pain-relieving capabilities. A study in the International Journal of Applied Research in Natural Products suggests that soursop may be beneficial for pain management.
  • Antimicrobial Activity: Soursop might help fight certain pathogens. The Journal of Medicinal Food includes a study demonstrating soursop's antibacterial effects against Staphylococcus aureus and Vibrio cholerae.
  • Supports Immune Function: Given its high vitamin C content and antimicrobial properties, soursop may boost immune health, helping the body ward off and recover from infections.

It’s important to note that while soursop contains compounds that may offer health benefits, more research, particularly in human trials, is necessary to substantiate these effects. As with any food, it should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. Readers should also remember that the potency of soursop's health benefits may vary between raw fruit consumption, supplemental forms, and processed soursop products.

Possible Neurotoxic Effects of Soursop Consumption

When we dive into the discussion about the safety of soursop, also known as graviola, one of the most concerning aspects is its potential neurotoxicity. This tropical fruit, despite its popularity for its potential health benefits, contains compounds called annonaceous acetogenins. Evidence suggests there may be a link between these compounds and the development of neurological disorders.

One such condition connected to these compounds is atypical Parkinsonism. Several studies conducted in the French West Indies where soursop is widely consumed have shown a higher prevalence of atypical Parkinsonism among inhabitants. Research published in the journal Movement Disorders highlights an association between the consumption of fruits from the Annonaceae family, which includes soursop, and the development of neurological diseases similar to Parkinson's.

The proposed mechanism behind this neurotoxicity is the ability of acetogenins to inhibit complex I of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. This inhibition within neurons could lead to neuropathological changes because the brain relies heavily on mitochondria for energy. The dysfunction of mitochondrial complex I has been suggested to be a part of the pathophysiology in Parkinson's Disease, according to research in the Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes.

However, it is important to note the existing research does not establish a direct causal relationship but rather an association. Therefore, while the potential risk should not be ignored, more studies are necessary to confirm the extent of neurotoxic effects of soursop and the quantities at which it might be harmful.

For those concerned about neurotoxicity but who wish to consume soursop, moderation is key. Limiting intake may help mitigate potential risks. Health professionals often advise individuals with a family history of neurodegenerative disorders to be particularly cautious about consuming soursop and related products.

The examination of neurotoxic risks associated with dietary choices can be complicated by various factors, including individual genetics, overall diet, and lifestyle. This underscores the importance of a holistic approach to nutrition and health where no single food item is considered in isolation. As with any dietary concern, consulting with a healthcare professional or a dietitian can provide guidance tailored to a person's unique health profile.

Soursop and Its Controversial Anti-Cancer Claims

The anti-cancer properties of soursop, also known as graviola or Annona muricata, have been the subject of both excitement and skepticism within the scientific community and among health-conscious individuals. While some laboratory studies suggest that soursop extracts may have potential as a cancer-fighting agent, these findings have yet to be confirmed in human clinical trials.

One of the primary compounds in soursop that has drawn scientific attention is annonacin, a type of acetogenin. In vitro studies have shown that this compound can have cytotoxic effects on various types of cancer cells, including pancreatic, lung, breast, and prostate cancers. A study published in the Journal of Natural Products noted that acetogenins from soursop can selectively inhibit the growth of cancer cells while somewhat sparing healthy cells (Cancer Letters, 1996).

However, it is crucial to understand that results from test tubes or animal models cannot be directly extrapolated to humans. Moreover, these studies have raised concerns about the neurotoxicity of long-term consumption of large quantities of soursop, particularly the seeds and leaves, which contain the highest levels of annonacin. Researchers have drawn parallels between high annonacin intake and atypical parkinsonism in some regions due to the compound's ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and potentially damage neurons (Movement Disorders, 2002).

An additional dilemma arises from the lack of standardization in soursop products, such as teas, extracts, and supplements. Concentrations of active compounds can vary significantly, and without FDA regulation and clinical trials that delineate safe and effective dosages, the supposed benefits and risks of these products remain largely speculative.

  • Laboratory and animal studies suggest anti-cancer effects of soursop compounds, but human evidence is lacking.
  • Annonacin, a promising anti-cancer compound, also carries a risk of neurotoxicity.
  • There's a lack of clinical evidence and regulation around soursop products, making their safety and efficacy unclear.

In summary, while the narrative of soursop as a natural cancer cure is compelling, it is important to approach such claims with a critical mindset and a demand for robust, clinical evidence. Those considering soursop as a complementary or alternative cancer treatment should consult with healthcare providers, and stay informed about both the potential benefits and risks.

For those interested in consuming soursop for its health benefits, it is safer to consume the flesh of the fruit in moderation, rather than concentrated extracts or supplements. This allows one to benefit from the fruit's nutritious profile, which includes vitamins C and B, fiber, and antioxidants, while minimizing exposure to potentially harmful compounds.

Potential Interaction with Medication and Health Conditions

Soursop, also known as Graviola, is a fruit hailed for its purported health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. However, it's crucial to consider its interactions with medications and existing health conditions. Here's a breakdown of key concerns and interactions to be aware of.

  • Blood Pressure Medications: Soursop has been found to have hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) effects, which could potentially enhance the effects of antihypertensive drugs, leading to an increased risk of hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure).
  • Diabetes Medications: Due to its ability to reduce blood sugar levels, soursop may interact with diabetes medications, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Diabetic patients should closely monitor their blood sugar levels when consuming soursop.
  • Antidepressants: Soursop contains compounds that may have a serotoninergic effect on the body. Theoretically, it could interact with antidepressants, specifically SSRI’s or MAOI’s, leading to a potentially serious condition known as serotonin syndrome.
  • Liver and Kidney Disease: High consumption of soursop can impose a burden on the liver and kidneys due to the presence of alkaloids and an increase in metabolic activity. Patients with pre-existing liver or kidney conditions should approach soursop with caution.

Furthermore, research has suggested that soursop contains annonacin, a neurotoxic compound. Chronic exposure to annonacin has been associated with an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, especially in populations consuming large amounts of the fruit or its derivatives.

Medication/Condition Type of Interaction Recommended Action
Blood Pressure Medications Potentiates Lowering Effect Monitor blood pressure closely
Diabetes Medications Increases Hypoglycemic Risk Regularly monitor blood sugar
Antidepressants Possible Serotonin Syndrome Consult with a healthcare professional
Liver/Kidney Disease May Increase Organ Strain Consume with caution or avoid

Pregnant and breastfeeding women are also advised to avoid soursop consumption due to a lack of safety data. Always consult with a healthcare provider before integrating soursop into your diet, especially if you are on medication or have pre-existing health conditions.

References for further reading and substantiation of these concerns include studies from reputable journals such as The Journal of Ethnopharmacology and the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, among others. For example, a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology investigated the antihypertensive properties of soursop, providing a basis for understanding its interaction with blood pressure medications (Moghadamtousi et al., 2015).

Considering Portion Size and Frequency of Consumption

When exploring the effects of soursop (Graviola) on health, it's crucial to acknowledge the role that portion size and consumption frequency play. Too much of anything can be problematic, and soursop is no exception, especially due to the presence of certain compounds that can have adverse effects when consumed in large amounts.

Portion Size Matters

The appropriate portion size of soursop has not been standardized, but moderation is key. A common recommendation for fruit intake is that it should not exceed two servings per day for the average adult. A serving size of soursop can be considered to be roughly equal to a half cup of fruit pulp. Excessive consumption may lead to an increased risk of neurotoxicity, which has been associated with compounds found in soursop such as annonacin.

Studies have demonstrated that overconsumption of annonacin can potentially lead to neurological disturbances. When focusing on portion size, it's important to recognize that the fruit contains more annonacin in its seeds and leaves, so it's advisable to consume only the flesh. One study outlined that daily consumption of annonacin from tropical fruits should not exceed 0.05 mg/kg, highlighting the necessity of controlling portion sizes.

Frequency of Consumption

Regular consumption of soursop may have associated benefits, such as its rich composition of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, as with portion size, the frequency of intake should also be managed wisely. It's suggested not to consume soursop daily but rather include it as part of a varied diet, possibly a few times a week. This way, you can reap the benefits of its nutritional content while minimizing potential risks related to its neurotoxic compounds.

Frequent consumption of soursop, particularly in large quantities, could raise concerns regarding neurotoxic effects due to annonacin accumulation. Hence, it would be prudent to reserve soursop for occasional consumption, ensuring a balance with other fruits and healthful foods.


Focusing on the portion size and consumption frequency is essential when integrating soursop into your diet. By following moderation, the likelihood of experiencing the harmful effects of annonacin and other compounds can be minimized. As more research evolves, guidance on the safest ways to enjoy soursop will become clearer, but until then, conservative consumption remains a judicious approach to benefiting from this tropical fruit's potential health properties without undue risk.

Sourcing Soursop: Organic vs. Conventional Farming Practices

When considering the health implications of soursop, a significant factor is the source of the fruit. The farming methods used—whether conventional or organic—can influence not only the quality and taste of the soursop but also its effects on your health and the environment. Let's delve into the nuances of both practices.

Conventional Farming Practices:

  • Chemical Pesticides and Fertilizers: Conventional soursop farming may involve the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. While these can increase yield and protect the crop from pests and diseases, they might also introduce traces of harmful chemicals into the fruit.
  • Environmental Impact: The environmental footprint of conventional farming is generally higher due to the energy inputs required for synthesizing pesticides and fertilizers, which can lead to soil degradation, water pollution, and reduction in biodiversity.
  • Price and Availability: Conventional soursop is typically more readily available and affordable than organic variants, making it a more accessible choice for many consumers.

Organic Farming Practices:

  • Absence of Synthetic Chemicals: Organic soursop is grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Instead, organic farms utilize natural methods for pest control and soil fertility. This might lead to fewer pesticides and chemicals in the fruit, which can be more desirable for health-conscious consumers.
  • Environmental Considerations: Organic farming focuses on sustainability and promoting ecological balance. Practices such as crop rotation, green manure, and composting help preserve environmental integrity and foster biodiversity.
  • Nutritional Differences: Some studies suggest that organic fruits, including soursop, may have higher levels of certain nutrients and antioxidants. For example, research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine noted increased levels of vitamin C and antioxidants in organic produce.
  • Cost and Accessibility: Organic soursop often comes with a higher price tag due to more labor-intensive farming practices and typically lower yields. In addition, organic soursop might not be as widely available in all markets.

In weighing the benefits and downsides of organic vs. conventional soursop, it's essential to consider one's individual health goals and environmental ethics. If minimizing exposure to synthetic chemicals is a priority, or if you're a proponent of environmentally friendly farming practices, opting for organic soursop could align with your values. On the other hand, conventional soursop remains a practical option for those prioritizing cost and availability, keeping in mind the potential trade-offs. As a consumer, staying informed about the origin and cultivation methods of soursop allows for a more informed choice in aligning your purchases with your personal health and ecological stance.

Regardless of the choice between organic and conventional, it is advisable to thoroughly wash soursop before consumption to remove any residues on the fruit's surface. Ultimately, consuming soursop as part of a balanced diet can offer a range of nutritional benefits, provided that its sourcing aligns with your individual health standards and environmental considerations.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, soursop can interact with various medications and health conditions. For example, it can potentiate the effect of blood pressure medications, increase the risk of hypoglycemia when taken with diabetes medications, and may lead to serotonin syndrome with certain antidepressants. People with liver or kidney disease, as well as those with a family history of neurodegenerative diseases, should consume soursop cautiously or avoid it. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid soursop due to a lack of safety data.

While some laboratory studies have shown that compounds in soursop, such as acetogenins, may have anti-cancer properties, these findings have not been confirmed in human clinical trials. Current evidence is not sufficient to support the claim that soursop can prevent or cure cancer. It's essential to consult with healthcare providers before considering soursop as a complementary or alternative cancer treatment and rely on proven, conventional cancer therapies.

While there's no standardized 'safe' amount, moderation is key due to the presence of neurotoxic compounds like annonacin. A half-cup of fruit pulp on an occasional basis, not exceeding two servings per day, is a reasonable amount. Avoid consuming soursop seeds and leaves, and consider limiting overall intake to a few times a week as part of a varied diet.

Consuming fresh soursop fruit in moderation is generally considered safer than taking concentrated soursop supplements or extracts. Fresh fruit allows you to benefit from the nutritional compounds, such as vitamins and fiber, while minimizing potential exposure to the potentially neurotoxic acetogenins, which are present in higher concentrations in supplements and extracts.

Ask a question about Soursop and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • hypotension
  • hypoglycemia
  • serotonin syndrome

Possible long-term side effects

  • neurotoxicity
  • atypical parkinsonism
  • increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases

Ingredients to be aware of

  • annonaceous acetogenins
  • annonacin


  • immune support
  • antioxidant properties
  • anti-inflammatory effects
  • analgesic effects
  • antimicrobial activity
  • vitamins and minerals
  • fiber content

Healthier alternatives

  • other fruits rich in vitamin c
  • b-vitamin-rich foods
  • fiber-rich alternatives

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 03-18-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 03-18-2024

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