Cherimoya is a tropical fruit, which is a part of the Annonaceae family. This green colored fruit is famous for its delicious taste and a smooth texture. It is also known as ‘the tree of ice cream’, due to its creamy consistency.
Besides this, cherimoya offers an array of health benefits. Eating cherimoya daily can improve your health in a number of ways. This fruit is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive and anti-microbial agent in nature. It further helps in lowering the bad cholesterol level in the blood and improves heart health too.
Cherimoya possesses anti-tumor property and it helps in the management of cancer. It is loaded with plenty of vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals, which nourish the body and strengthen the immune system. (1)
What is Cherimoya Fruit?
Cherimoya fruit, botanically known as ‘Annona Cherimola’ is native to South America. This plant grows up to 10 meters in height and is naturalized in different tropical regions around the world. It was introduced in India in the 1880s.
It has a unique taste and a creamy texture with a blend of flavors similar to banana, pineapples and mangoes.
The outer covering of this fruit is green in color when ripe and the inner creamy flesh is white in color. The inner flesh also contains seeds that are black and brown in color. These seeds should not be consumed while eating the fruit.
Health Benefits of Cherimoya Fruit
Each part of the cherimoya plant possesses different therapeutic properties. But, in this article, we will be focusing on the myriad health benefits of cherimoya fruit:
The excellent nutritional profile of this fruit will amaze you. 100 grams of cherimoya fruit contains approximately 75 calories. This fruit has a typical sweet taste, with a high carbohydrate content and a low content of acids.
Besides this, cherimoya has a modest vitamin A content, plus it is a good source of other vitamins like thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3) and vitamin B6.
It is further a great source of vitamin C, a natural antioxidant that fights oxidative stress. Eating cherimoya regularly supplies the body with vital minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium.
Cherimoya is low in sodium and cholesterol content, which makes it beneficial for individuals with high blood pressure and altered lipid profile.
It is also a good source of dietary fiber and 100 grams of this fruit contains 2 grams of dietary fiber.
Cherimoya is reported to contain plant compounds, that contain health-boosting properties. These compounds include:
- Amino acids
These compounds play a crucial role in protecting against stress, toxin overload and diseases associated with it. (2)
Rich in Antioxidants:
Cherimoya is a great source of antioxidants. Vitamin C, a natural antioxidant presents in this fruit fights oxidative stress and inhibits the harmful action of free radicals. It protects the healthy cells of the body against free radical attack and prevents their destruction.
A study observed that cherimoya flesh, juice and the skin have an amazing capacity to absorb free radicals. The antioxidant power of this fruit is so strong, that it can even kill the cancer cells.
Such an antioxidant activity of cherimoya is attributed to the presence of ‘acetogenins’ in it. Acetogenins are natural compounds that reduce the free radical load and protect the body against diseases associated with increased oxidative stress.
Studies have also indicated that the by-products of the cherimoya fruit can be used in cosmetic, food processing and pharmaceutical industries due to its high antioxidant value. (3)
Improves Lipid Profile
It is very well-known that having high levels of bad cholesterol in the blood puts you at an increased risk of life-threatening heart diseases and stroke.
An interesting study found that cherimoya fruit helps in reducing the blood level of total cholesterol, LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides. Besides this, it raises the blood level of HDL ‘good’ cholesterol.
Plant compounds present in cherimoya interfere with the synthesis of cholesterol. They inhibit the enzyme that is responsible for the production of cholesterol.
Cholesterol is known to involve oxidative stress and changes in lipid metabolism. Cherimoya, being an abundant source of antioxidants, fights oxidative stress and protects the body against undesirable changes in the lipid profile.
Additionally, cherimoya contains plant sterols. Plant sterols have a similar structure like cholesterol. Because of this structural similarity, plant sterols prevent the absorption of LDL cholesterol in the small intestine. This in turn helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Hence, eating foods rich in plant sterols, like cherimoya thrice a week can be beneficial for individuals with high cholesterol levels. (4)
High blood pressure damages the arteries and the blood vessels, plus they even raise the risk of heart diseases.
Cherimoya fruit is a great source of potassium and it contains low sodium content. Foods with high potassium content are important in managing high blood pressure.
Such a composition of this fruit helps in the widening of the arteries, which in turn ensures smooth blood flow throughout the body. It balances out the negative effect of sodium and controls the amount of fluid stored in the body.
Besides this, potassium eases tension in the blood vessel walls, which further reduces high blood pressure.
Hence, it is suggested that individuals with high blood pressure can benefit from regular intake of the cherimoya fruit along with sodium restriction.
Regular consumption of the cherimoya fruit helps in reducing two important risk factors for heart diseases:
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
A reduction in these risk factors, protects the body against the initiation and progression of heart diseases.
Studies have found that antioxidant therapy exerts beneficial effects on heart health. Oxidative stress leads to the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries. This can clog the arteries and have a negative impact on the heart health, which may further lead to heart failure.
Cherimoya is an amazing source of natural antioxidants that fight oxidative stress and help in clearing excess cholesterol from the arteries.
Antioxidants from cherimoya prevent a reaction between LDL cholesterol and free radicals, thus they inhibit the oxidation of LDL. This further prevents clogging of the arteries and protects the heart against damage.
A Healthy Snack
Snacking on cherimoya once a day can be a healthy option. Replace high calorie and high fat foods with this natural source of vitamins, minerals and energy.
Eating cherimoya gives you an energy boost as well as delays hunger pangs. The dietary fiber present in this fruit provides satiety, suppresses hunger and makes you feel full for a longer period of time.
Hence, eating cherimoya is far healthier than grabbing a high calorie processed food for snack.
With the abundance of so many powerful antioxidants, plant chemicals and nutrients, cherimoya plays a beneficial role in the management of cancer.
Oxidative stress is linked to cancer. Generation of reactive oxygen species in the body can damage the cell structure and functions and may even lead to undesirable transformation. Oxidative stress further causes cancer initiation and progression by inducing DNA damage.
Cherimoya fruit is rich in flavonols and other plant compounds that justify the antioxidant and free radical scavenging ability of this fruit.
Eating cherimoya supplies the body with antioxidants, that neutralize the action of free radicals. They lower oxidative stress and prevent unwanted cell transformations.
Besides this, cherimoya possesses anti-tumor activity. It suppresses the formation of tumors and increase in their size. (5)
Inflammation is linked to the onset of a number of degenerative diseases. Eating foods that lower overall inflammation in the body is a key strategy to protect against diseases and improve longevity.
Cherimoya is one of those foods that contain excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Flavonoids and other plant compounds present in this fruit inhibit the synthesis of pro-inflammatory compounds and protect the body against inflammation.
Vitamin C present in Cherimoya has potential effects in alleviating the inflammatory status by reducing the pro-inflammatory compounds. It further combats the negative effects of nitrogen species on the body.
Hence, regular consumption of cherimoya may cut down the risk of inflammatory diseases.
Fights Bacterial Infections
Cherimoya fruit and its seeds are an amazing anti-bacterial agent. Flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins and other nourishing compounds present in cherimoya are responsible for its anti-bacterial potential. An interesting study found that cherimoya is effective against five different bacteria, which include:
- Staphylococcus aureus: It causes skin infections, carbuncles, cellulitis and even life-threatening diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia, bacteremia and
- Coli: It causes diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and mild dehydration.
- Shigella sonnei: It causes gastrointestinal infections that may lead to diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, stomach pain, vomiting, nausea and
- Proteus mirabilis: It causes urinary tract infection, fever, the presence of blood in the urine.
- Enterococcus faecalis: It causes bacteremia, meningitis and
Hence, cherimoya may be effective in the treatment or prevention of the above-mentioned infections.
It is also useful in the treatment of fungal infections caused by Candida albicans. Such an anti-microbial property of cherimoya is attributed to the presence of essential oils in it.
Different Ways to Eat Cherimoya
Cherimoya is a fruit, which can be enjoyed fresh. With the help of a sharp knife, cut cherimoya in half length-wise and scoop out the inner flesh using a spoon. Do not consume the seeds.
Besides this, cherimoya can also be consumed in different forms, like:
- Ice Creams: You can prepare a cherimoya ice cream at home or freeze the cherimoya pulp in the freezer for 2 hours. Eat it like an ice cream, which is 100% natural and has no artificial colors and flavors.
- Milkshake: Blend some milk with the inner flesh of cherimoya. Cherimoya is already sweet, so no need to add the sugar. Just enjoy the natural sweet taste and creamy texture of the cherimoya milkshake.
- Yogurt: Add some cherimoya fruit pulp or puree to a bowl of yogurt. Milk it well and refrigerate it for an hour. Cherimoya yogurt is a perfect snack with a great carbohydrate and protein combination.
- Parfait: Cherimoya parfait is a quick and healthy breakfast option. Layer yogurt, muesli, cherimoya pulp and some nuts.
- Oatmeal: The inner flesh of the cherimoya fruit can be added to a bowl of oatmeal to further enhance the overall nutritional content.
- Custards And Puddings: Cherimoya puree can be added while making custard or pudding. The creamy texture of this fruit further enhances the consistency of the dessert and adds a creamy effect.
Cooking this fruit or heating it may kill the natural enzymes and antioxidants present in it. This leads to the loss of certain nutritional properties of this fruit. Hence, it is best to enjoy this fruit in the fresh and natural form.
However, immature or unripe cherimoya fruit can be cooked as a vegetable.
Fresh cherimoya fruit can also be processed to make plain juice and wines.
How to Select and Store Cherimoya
- While purchasing cherimoya fruit, look for fresh and firm fruits. Make sure the fruit is free from blemishes and soft spots. A soft cherimoya indicates that the fruit is over-ripe and it may have a slightly acidic taste.
- Ripe cherimoya fruits are pale green to light brown in color. They have a sweet and strong aroma.
- If you have purchased the fruit in an unripe form, store it in your fruit basket at the room temperature. The fruit will ripen within 4 to 6 days.
- Ripe cherimoya fruits can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
- It is advised that this fruit should be consumed immediately when cut. Storing the cut fruit may lead to the loss of antioxidants in it.
- Frozen cherimoya pulp can be conserved up to 120 days.
- Cherimoya fruit is safe to consume and healthy individuals can safely enjoy this fruit.
- Pregnant women and lactating mothers too can eat this fruit.
- No studies about cherimoya allergy and toxicity have been reported.
- The seeds of this fruit are toxic if consumed in the crushed form. The seeds contain toxic substances, which can have a negative impact on the health.
Summary: Cherimoya is a fruit with a unique taste and creamy texture. Besides this, cherimoya helps in the treatment and management of various health conditions. It is eaten as a fruit and also used as a medicine due to its rich nutrient profile. Eat cherimoya in fresh form, without cooking it, to avail the benefits of this fruit.