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12 Evidence-Based Health Benefits Of Soursop (Hanuman Phal/Lakshman Phal)

Soursop or graviola, also known as Hanuman phal or Lakshman phal in the Hindi language, is a fruit of Annona muricata, a small deciduous tropical evergreen tree that belongs to Annonaceae family.

All the parts of soursop tree have therapeutic benefits: the fruits are used as food confectionaries while other parts such as leaves, bark, roots, pericarp and seeds are used widely in decoctions of traditional medicine to treat a wide range of ailments.

According to a study, soursop plant has around 212 phytochemicals, including alkaloids, megastigmanes, flavonol triglycosides, phenolics, cyclopeptides and essential oils. Together they contribute for the anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-arthritic, antimicrobial, anticonvulsant, hepatoprotective and antidiabetic mechanisms. [1]

Soursop or paw-paw is a large, heart-shaped (or more or less oval or irregular) and green fruit with a diameter of 15 to 20 cm. The inside of the fruit has white pulp with a buttery and smooth texture, which is sweet to taste and has a delightful aroma. The seeds of the soursop are mostly avoided as they may increase the risk of Parkinson's disease.

In this article, we will discuss details on soursop or hanuman phal or graviola. Take a look at the details.

Nutritional Profile Of Soursop

100 g of soursop contains 81.16 g of water and 276 kJ of energy. It also contains 1 g of proteins, 3.3 g of dietary fibre, 14 mg of calcium, 0.6 mg of iron, 21 mg of magnesium, 278 mg of potassium, 27 mg of phosphorus, 0.1 mg of zinc, 20.6 mg of vitamin C and 14 mcg of folate.

Health Benefits Of Soursop

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1. Has Anticancer properties

Soursop has anticancer properties including cytotoxicity, necrosis and inhibition of proliferation against a variety of cancer types such as breast, colorectal, prostate, renal, lung, pancreatic, ovarian and many more. The phytochemicals in the fruit such as acetogenins are mainly responsible for the decrease in the growth of cancer cells and their prevention. [2]

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2. Treats malaria

The antiplasmodial agents in the leaves of hanuman phal may have positive effects on pathogenic parasites. According to a study, the leaf extract of soursop shows promising antimalarial effect against two strains of Plasmodium falciparum, a protozoan parasite that causes malaria in humans. [3]

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3. Treats protozoal infections

Lakshman phal has an antiparasitic activity that may help treat protozoal infections such as leishmaniasis and trypanosomiasis. The bioactive compounds in the fruit help treat gastrointestinal parasites. Soursop can also be effective against drug-resistant protozoal diseases. [4]

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4. Treats arthritic pain

The fruit of Annona muricata is used as a natural medicine for arthritic pain. The anti-inflammatory property of the plant may help suppress the stimuli related to arthritic pain and reduces oedema related to the condition. [5]

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5. Manages high blood pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart diseases and renal failures. Paw-paw has an antihypertensive activity that may help reduce cholesterol levels in the body. This can help in the management of high blood pressure and prevention of its complications. [6]

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6. Controls seizures

Graviola is famous for its anticonvulsant activity mainly in African countries. It is used in traditional medicines to control fever and convulsive seizures. Also, the neuroprotective effect of the fruit can contribute to its high performance against seizures or other neuronal dysfunction. [7]

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7. Manages diabetes

Soursop has antidiabetic and hypolipidemic activities. A study shows that soursop can help reduce blood glucose concentration when taken daily for two weeks. Also, the antioxidant effect of soursop can protect beta cells of the pancreas against oxidative damage which is the main cause of type 1 diabetes. [8]

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8. Prevents damage to the liver

A study talks about hepaprotective and bilirubin-lowering activity of graviola. High levels of bilirubin indicate liver damage or disease. Consumption of soursop can help lower high bilirubin levels to normal levels, protecting the liver simultaneously against the toxicity of carbon tetrachloride and acetaminophen. [9]

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9. Suppresses pain

Soursop is traditionally used as a pain killer due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive properties. It helps lower the inflammatory cytokines in the body which are responsible for pain. A study talks about the suppression of pain caused due to abdominal contortion induced with acetic acid. [10]

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10. Has antioxidant properties

Soursop contains a good amount of phenolic compounds which are responsible for its antioxidant properties. It can effectively act as a potent free radical scavenger and ferric reducer and prevent related diseases such as cancer, arthritis and inflammatory diseases. [11]

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11. Treats ulcers

Hanuman phal has anti-ulcerogenic activities due to the presence of active compounds such as flavonoids, tannins and triterpenes. It may help decrease the ulcerative lesions or gastric ulcers of the stomach and improve its functions. [12]

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12. Heals wounds

Soursop has wound-healing activities. It may help reduce injuries of the wound area from the fourth day in the case of excisional wounds. Also, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect of the fruit contributes to faster recovery of the wounds. [13]

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How To Eat Soursop

Cut the fruit into halves vertically. Remove the seeds with a knife or by hand. Take a spoon and scoop out the white flesh and collect in a bowl. You can also eat it directly after cutting into halves.

The flesh of the fruit can be blended into smoothies or added as a sugar substitute in baked goods. You can also use its leaves to prepare tea or decoctions to treat various diseases.