Graviola (pronounced grah-vee-oh-la) is an oval, heart-shaped fruit with dark green, prickly skin from the Annona Muricata family that grows throughout the subtropics of Brazil. The flesh of the fruit is a white, creamy pulp with large black seeds. It has a taste that ranges from tart to semi-sweet with the variety grown in the Amazon regions of Brazil being some of the tastiest. Its flavor is often compared to a mix of strawberry and pineapple. Not unlike other types of fruit, Graviola contains essential vitamins and minerals which make for a healthy addition to anyone’s diet and is recognized for having an ideal source of nutrients necessary for immune support.
It is in the same genus as the chirimoya and the same family as the pawpaw. Over the centuries, the fruit has been spread around the world with the more common name of Soursop in Southeast Asia and Guanaba, Guanabana, or Guyabano in Spanish-speaking countries.
Graviola is commonly consumed transformed into juices, flavored drinks, sweets, sorbets & ice creams, mouses, merengues and more. While graviola has been used medicinally throughout history, it is often prized more in certain regions of the globe for its sweetness and delicious flavor.
The most dominant vitamin in Graviola fruit is Vitamin C, but many of the B Vitamin complex are also present in addition many other minerals that restore essential body electrolytes like potassium, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium.
Many bioactive compounds and phytochemicals have been found in all parts of Graviola trees as scientists have been studying its properties since the 1940's. In a late 1990’s clinical study, alkaloids in graviola fruit were found to have antidepressive effects. In addition, there is some in vitro research regarding graviola's effects on cancer cells, however no human evidence has been published. Research today regarding graviola as a cancer treatment is currently being conducted.
Outside the laboratory research world, graviola has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy with focus not just on the fruit, but also on the leaves, roots, bark and seeds. Each part of the tree provides its own set of healing properties, unfortunately research revolving around graviola’s healing properties is lacking in the scientific world with the exception of the above-mentioned ongoing studies into the health benefits of Graviola that may reveal it as a possible cancer treatment.
Graviola is indigenous to the rainforest regions of most of the warmest tropical areas in South America, including the Amazon, and the Caribbean. In Brazil, notes about the fruit date back as far as 1587. However, the graviola tree was already well established in indigenous cultures long before the arrival of colonizing Europeans. Medicine men in South American indigenous cultures frequently used all of the parts of the tree including the stems, leaves, bark and seeds to treat an astonishing number of ailments, including: hypertension, ringworm, influenza, scurvy, rashes, malaria, neuralgia, dysentery, arthritis, palpitations, rheumatism, nervousness, high blood pressure, insomnia, diarrhea, fever, nausea, boils, dyspepsia, muscle spasm, and ulcers.
Soon after the colonization of the Americas, the seeds were spread throughout the world. Today, Graviola is commonly grown in the Amazon and northeast of Brazil, and as far away as the rainforests of Southeast Asia where varieties are grown under the name soursop. You may even still find wild graviola trees growing throughout the various islands of the Caribbean and northern regions of South America with the fruit sold in local markets.
The fruit pulp is excellent for making drinks and sorbets and, though slightly sour-acid, can also be eaten out of hand.
The Graviola tree belongs to the muricata species of trees which is classified in the Annona subdivision of the Annonaceae tree family. It is a small broadleaf, evergreen tree that produces large, heart-shaped fruits 15–20 cm in diameter with delicious white creamy pulp inside. The trees grow in areas with high humidity and warm temperate winters.
The graviola tree fruits in the 3rd year and produces year round in good growing conditions.
At Amafruits, we use graviola from small family farmers in the Amazon regions of Brazil, where it is pulped to remove any seed, then pureed and immediately frozen in convenenient individual serving packs without any additives.