What Are Soursop Leaves?
Here’s a question for you: What’s your favorite fruit? The apple? Banana? Orange? All good choices. How about something less common? Raspberries? Mangos? Soursop?
“Soursop?” you might be asking yourself. “Never heard of it.” Well, if you had heard of it, you might be including it among your favorite fruits. Not only is soursop tasty, it’s packed full of nutrients that are known to reduce inflammation, promote healthy digestion, fight infections, lower blood pressure, increase metabolism, and much more. Plus, the leaves of the soursop fruit make a delicious tea.
Soursop leaves contain many of the fruit’s most beneficial nutrients, although the entire fruit (even its stem!) is dense with vitamins and minerals. For this article, however, we will be focusing primarily on the benefits of soursop leaves.
Where Does Soursop Come From?
Soursop, or graviola (you’re welcome, fancy-pants), grows from Annona muricata trees in tropical regions of the Americas. It’s a funny-looking fruit, green and prickly on the outside and creamy on the inside. Comparable to strawberries or pineapples in flavor, the soursop is typically eaten raw. But like a watermelon, the exterior must be cut open, and the interior scooped out. They can also be quite large, so it is recommended that you separate the fruit into smaller portions after cutting and scooping.
Another reason it is recommended that soursop be separated into smaller portions is because it’s high in calories compared to other, similar fruits, such as the above-mentioned watermelon. For context, 1 cup of watermelon contains 46 calories, whereas 1 cup of soursop contains 146 calories! That’s a lot of calories for only a cup of fruit, but there are a couple of details to consider:
- Soursop is more dense than other fruits, with a thick, creamy texture, so more of it can fit into a cup than less dense fruits like watermelon or pineapple.
- Soursop is high in fiber and vitamin C, which means it will easily suppress hunger and support your immune system. This makes it worth consuming, despite being high in calories.
Soursop leaves, on the other hand contain almost zero calories, and trace amounts of the vitamins and minerals contained in the fruit. Because the leaves are so much lower in calories, and share certain nutrients with the fruit, they can be consumed more often and possess unique benefits.
To best enjoy the benefits of soursop leaves, we recommend brewing it into a tea.
Made from leaves of the soursop fruit tree, this tea offers a number of unique health benefits, both mental and physical.
Some of the benefits of soursop leaf tea include its ability to treat infections (including herpes), soothe sore throats, and reduce inflammation of the synes area. It is also rumored to treat parasitic infections such as lice, and deter the spread of cancer. Less controversially, it will help you to relax with its warm, subtle, but sweet flavor. It’s also caffeine-free, so you can drink it before bed and forget the stress of your day.
How to Brew Soursop Tea
Eager to enjoy the benefits of soursop leaves? Here’s what you need to know before you start brewing: There are two main methods for brewing soursop leaves into tea. The first will make the tea more flavorful, whereas the second with make the tea more healthy. The difference is in brewing time. The longer the soursop leaves are brewed, the more nutrients are extracted, which means that brewing for longer will make a healthier, more nutritious tea, while a faster brew will make a delicious, but less nutritious, tea.
- Brewing soursop leaves for a more flavorful tea is similar to brewing regular herbal tea. Simply add 1-2 tablespoons of pre-packaged soursop leaf tea (often called graviola tea) to a cup of boiling water and let the tea bag soak for 5-10 minutes. Then, drink and enjoy! You can also create flavorful tea by using raw, whole soursop leaves. Just add 2-3 leaves to the boiling water and let soak for at least 10 minutes. Before drinking the tea, you should remove the leaves. That method should leave you with about 2 cups of tea, perfect to enjoy with a partner.
- To brew soursop leaves for a healthier tea, add 1-2 tablespoons for each cup of boiling water and let soak for at least 10 minutes (you can let it soak for up to 20 minutes, although you might have to reheat your tea). If you are using whole soursop leaves, add 1-3 leaves for 1-2 cups of boiling water and let soak for 20-30 minutes.
Once again, the longer the brew, the more nutritious the tea, since the boiling water is given more time to extract nutrients from the soursop leaves. However, a faster (more convenient) brew will be more flavorful, and nutritious still. Just less nutritious than tea that is brewed longer. It is ultimately your decision, and it might be worth trying both methods.
Because soursop’s medicinal qualities (its ability to treat infections, soothe sore throats, and reduce inflammation of the synes area) can be potent, you should be aware of any potential side effects to consuming it.
According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), you should not consume soursop or soursop leaves if you:
- Take blood pressure or diabetes medication
- Have liver or kidney disease
- Are going to have nuclear imaging studies performed on you soon
- Or have a low blood platelet count
MSKCC also advises against highly frequent consumption of soursop or soursop leaves (check with your doctor to find out how much soursop is right for you), as it could increase liver and kidney toxicity. Frequent consumption may also cause movement disorders and myeloneuropathy.
Soursop is not a popular fruit, but it should be. It’s dense with vitamins and minerals that will improve your overall health, and its leaves make for a delicious tea. It's best taken in capsule form available for purchase here.
If you’re interested in the benefits of soursop leaves, you may also be interested in the benefits of sea moss, or in the alkaline diet, which includes both soursop and sea moss, as well as other healthy ingredients. If you’re looking for supplements to make the dieting process easier, then Alkaline Organics has you covered.
Stay happy and healthy!