Guyabano, also known as custard apple or soursop is an exotic edible fruit that has been acknowledged as a potential cure for cancer. The guyabano tree is an evergreen tree that is native to Cuba, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and northern South America (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela). Coming from the genus of chirimoya, this fruit has a combined flavor of strawberry and pineapple. The fruit is green in color and has the shape of a pear but with soft spines. A ripe fruit may weigh anywhere from 2 to 5 kilograms. Apart from being a cure for cancer, guyabano is also used as a nerve tonic, sedative and as a remedy for many other ailments. Throughout history this tree and almost all of its parts have been used for medicinal purposes.
Nutritional value of Guyabano
Guyabano is a delicious and healthy fruit that is low in cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium. It is high in carbohydrates and also provides good amounts of protein and dietary fiber. Guyabano is a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, and B group vitamins including niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and folate. It also provides minerals essential for the human body such as potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium and copper. Guyabano is also rich in phytochemical compounds and non-volatile acids such as citric acid and malic acid. It also contains health benefitting compounds called acetogenins such as annonacin, quinolones, annopentocins etc.
Health benefits of Guyabano
Guyabano fruit has been found to possess several medicinal properties that can be beneficial to a lot of people. Studies suggest that it is effective in treating numerous health conditions including diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, liver disorders, skin infections, asthma and fever. Mentioned below are a few of the health benefits of this exotic fruit.
Guyabano fights cancer
The most touted benefit of guyabano is its ability to fight off cancer. Almost all parts of the tree including the fruits, leaves, bark and stem are considered to have the ability to destroy cancer cells. According to a research published in the Journal of Natural Products, the seeds of this fruit contain a certain compound that is selectively cytotoxic to colon adenocarcinoma cells (HT-29). In fact this compound was found to be 10,000 times more potent than the commonly used chemotherapy drug called Adriamycin. Extracts obtained from the guyabano tree have been found to kill cancer cells in about a dozen types of cancer, including breast, colon, lung, prostate, and pancreatic cancers. What’s more interesting is that guyabano targets only the malignant cancer cells without causing any kind of damage to the healthy cells.
Skin benefits of guyabano
Guyabano is beneficial to your skin in many ways. It is rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that increases the elasticity of the skin as well as prevents oxidative stress to the cells caused by free radicals. These free radicals play a major role in causing ageing of the skin. Thus by fighting off the free radicals, guyabano helps in reducing the signs of ageing such as wrinkles, fine lines, and pigmentation. This fruit is found to have great healing properties. It can be used to treat skin problems and also to heal wounds. Placing the flesh of the guyabano fruit on the affected area is believed to not only speed up the healing process but also in preventing bacterial infections. The crushed leaves of guyabano can be used as a poultice to treat eczema, swelling, inflammation and other skin problems.
Hair benefits of guyabano
Just like every other part of the body, the hair follicles also need ample supply of nutrients for proper growth and maintenance. Guyabano has an impressive list of nutrients that can ensure good health of your hair and prevent hair problems such as hair loss, dandruff, premature graying etc. Guyabano leaves have anti-parasitic effects and hence are considered to be very useful in getting rid of head lice. A decoction prepared from these leaves when applied on the scalp is found to be effective in eliminating head lice.
Guyabano for urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections are common in men, women and children. This condition mainly occurs when bacteria enter the opening of the urethra and spread in to the urinary tract causing infection. Guyabano is considered to be an excellent remedy for urinary tract infection as it is a rich source of vitamin C that increases the acidity of the urine, thus creating an unfavorable environment for the bacteria to grow and multiply.
Guyabano and diabetes
According to an article published in the “African Journal of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine”, a clinical study conducted on rats induced with diabetes and then fed with guyabano extracts showed that the extract helped in lowering the blood glucose levels in these animals. Yet another study revealed that when diabetes induced rats were given guyabano extract, it helped in increasing the levels of antioxidants in their blood, which in turn helped in lowering the risks of liver damage. These studies indicate that guyabano extract has a protective effect on the liver tissues that were subjected to streptozotocin induced oxidative stress. This effect may be brought about by increasing insulin production, increasing the production of antioxidants and also by decreasing the peroxidation of lipids.
Guyabano prevents osteoporosis
Guyabano is a rich source of calcium and phosphorus, two minerals which play a vital role in the formation of bone mass and also in building strong and healthy bones. Maintaining healthy bones can help in preventing bone disorders such as osteoporosis. The abundance of copper in guyabano promotes the absorption of calcium from the food that you eat and thus helps in maintaining the bone health.
Guyabano increases energy
Guyabano contains good amounts of B vitamins that are known to boost your energy levels. It has a high content of fructose, a simple sugar which is also a good source of energy.
Guyabano lowers blood pressure
Guyabano is a rich source of potassium that can help in lower blood pressure by negating the effects of sodium in your body. This mineral also acts a vasodilator which can widen the blood vessels, allowing the blood to flow easily, thereby lowering blood pressure.
Guyabano for healthy cholesterol levels
Regular consumption of guyabano is a good way to improve the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad cholesterol levels (LDL). The high amount of fiber in this fruit can bind to cholesterol and prevent it from accumulating in your bloodstream. Also the high amounts of the vitamin niacin in guyabano helps in increasing the HDL cholesterol levels.
Guyabano fights depression
Guyabano has been found to be a mood enhancer and is used widely in the treatment of depression, nervous disorders and stress. The fruit and the leaves of this plant have been used in traditional medicine for their sedative and tranquillizing effects. Research suggests that guyabano contains three alkaloids namely annonaine, nornuciferine and asimilobine that are capable of inducing anti-depressive effects.
Guyabano exhibits antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities
Studies conducted in animals revealed that the ethanol extract of guyabano leaves possessed considerable antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties. Edema was chemically induced to the paw of rats and then treated with the guyabano ethanol extract. The results showed that the extract was able to significantly reduce the edema and also the amount of exudate.
Guyabano can fight against the herpes virus
According to a study published in the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology”, ethanol extract of guyabano and Petunia nyctaginiflora (Solanaceae) aqueous extract was able to inhibit the cytopathic activity of Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1).
Antibacterial effects of guyabano
In a study, the antibacterial effects of ethanolic and aqueous extracts of the seeds of moringa (Moringa oleifera) and pods of guyabano were examined against different strains of bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio cholera and Salmonella Enteritidis. The results indicated that the aqueous extracts of guyabano exhibited antibacterial effects against Staphylococcus aureus and Vibrio cholera.
Guyabano aids digestion
Guyabano is rich in dietary fiber that promotes digestion and regularizes bowel movements. The fiber adds bulk to the stool and removes it easily from the body, thus preventing constipation.
Guyabano and weight loss
For people who are trying to lose weight, guyabano is a perfect addition to their diet. It not only improves your metabolism, but the fiber in this fruit gives you the feeling of fullness, which prevents you from overeating.
Guyabano has diuretic properties
Guyabano is a natural diuretic that can increase the frequency of urination, thus preventing water or fluid retention. This property of guyabano is beneficial in lowering high blood pressure, promoting weight loss and also in preventing certain kidney and liver diseases.
Guyabano helps you sleep better
For people suffering from insomnia, a natural and safe remedy would be to consume guyabano regularly. This fruit contains a chemical known as tryptophan that helps in promoting sleep and relaxation. The leaves of guyabano are used in aromatherapy and also as an ingredient in making infusions that help in inducing sleep.
Guyabano is clearly a fruit that has numerous health benefits and incorporating this fruit in your regular diet can not only cure many health conditions but also improve your overall health. It is not just an ordinary fruit with a wonderful taste. Rather it is an effective and safe natural remedy that has the ability to ward off many life threatening diseases.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Ronny Ager-Wick