Cherimoya Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

cherimoya

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Cherimoya (Annona cherimola), also called the custard apple, is a roundish green fruit with a unique, scaly outer skin. It has a creamy texture and an exotic, tropical taste. Some compare the flavor to banana, mango, papaya, or coconut. But others say that it tastes like a strawberry.

Sometimes this fruit is called “pearl of the Andes” because it was cherished by the Incas, often reserved only for royalty. The fruit is now commonly grown in Central America. Cherimoya is closely related to soursop (Annona muricata) and the two are often confused.

If you can find cherimoya at your local market, it can make a delicious and healthy addition to your diet. The fruit is nearly fat-free and provides fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and many other micronutrients.

Cherimoya Nutrition Facts

A single one-cup serving of cherimoya fruit (160 grams) provides about 120 calories, 1.1g of fat, 28.3g of carbohydrate, and 2.5g of protein. It also provides vitamin C, vitamin B6, riboflavin, and potassium. This nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 1.1g
  • Sodium: 711.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 28.3g
  • Sugars: 20.6g
  • Fiber: 4.8g
  • Protein: 2.5g
  • Vitamin C: 20.2mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.4mg
  • Folate: 37mcg
  • Potassium: 459mg
  • Riboflavin: 0.2mg
  • Thiamin: 0.16mg

Carbs

Most of the calories in cherimoya come from carbohydrates. There are 20.6 grams of naturally occurring sugar in cherimoya. Sugar that occurs naturally in foods is generally less of a concern than sugars that are added to food as part of the processing (called "added sugars").

You'll benefit from about 4.8 grams of fiber if you consume one serving of cherimoya. Consuming fiber improves digestion and regularity. Fiber may provide other health benefits, including decreased risk of some types of cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. The recommended daily intake of fiber is 28 grams.

Fats

There is almost no fat in cherimoya. A one-cup serving provides just over one gram.

Protein

Cherimoya provides a small amount of protein, about 2.5 grams per one-cup serving.

Vitamins and Minerals

Cherimoya is a good source of vitamin C, providing about 20.2mg or about 22% of the daily value (DV) set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cherimoya also provides 0.4mg of vitamin B6 or about 24% of the DV. Vitamin B6 is often called the mood-boosting vitamin, and it also helps you to maintain a healthy metabolism.

Vitamin B6 is important during pregnancy for brain development and immune function in the baby, as is folate; a deficiency is associated with a higher risk for neural tube defects in newborns. Cherimoya also provides folate. If you eat the whole fruit, you'll get 53 mcg of folate, or about 13.5% of the recommended daily allowance.

Folate cannot be synthesized by the body, so it must be consumed in foods or provided in the form of a supplement, and there is some evidence that folate intake is low in adults. An insufficient intake of folate is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease.

Other micronutrients in cherimoya include riboflavin (0.2mg or 15% DV), thiamin (0.16mg or 13% of DV), and potassium (459 mg or 9.7% DV), and smaller amounts of magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Calories

A one-cup serving (160g) of cherimoya contains about 120 calories. A whole fruit weighs about 235 grams without the seeds and skin. So a 160-gram serving would be slightly more than half a fruit.

Summary

Cherimoya is a low-fat fruit that provides fiber and numerous micronutrients. The fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin B6. It is also a good source of riboflavin, thiamin, and folate.

Health Benefits

There are not many studies specifically investigating the health effects of consuming cherimoya fruit. At least one 2020 study suggest that the leaves of the plant may provide chemo-preventive effects when consumed in supplement form. Consuming the vitamins and minerals in the fruit may provide certain benefits.

May Help Preserve Memory

The vitamin B6 in cherimoya may help to preserve memory as you get older. Some limited studies have suggested that older people who have higher blood levels of vitamin B6 have a better memory. But supplements don't seem to provide a benefit. You'll get this nutrient from cherimoya and it is also found in foods such as bananas, meat, fish, legumes, and potatoes.

May Reduce Cataract Risk

The vitamin C in cherimoya may help reduce the risk of getting cataracts, a condition characterized by cloudy vision. Some studies show that people who get more vitamin C from foods have a lower risk of getting the condition. But the relationship is unclear and more research is needed.

May Boost Overall Eye Health

Cherimoya has been studied for its important bioactive compounds, most notably a carotenoid called lutein that is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. There is no RDA for lutein, but many studies investigating the role of lutein on eye health have involved supplements of 10 milligrams per day.

According to at least one study, the levels of lutein in cherimoya may be as high as 129 to 232 micrograms per 100-gram serving. USDA data for cherimoya, however, shows that a 100g serving would only provide about 6mcg of lutein.

The American Optometric Association suggests consuming foods with more lutein to reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration.

May Reduce Cell Damage

Many of the health benefits of cherimoya are attributed to the antioxidants that the fruit provides. Antioxidants help to protect cells in your body from damage caused by free radicals.

Specifically, scientific evidence suggests that the overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) may lead to certain chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegeneration. Antioxidants in food help to reduce the damaging effects of ROS.

However, the topic is hotly debated as too little ROS activity may also have undesirable health consequences. Researchers have advised that more studies are needed to fully understand the role that antioxidants play in maintaining good health.

Most studies have shown that supplements are not the best source of antioxidants. The National Institutes of Health recommends that consumers get antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, including cherimoya.

May Help in Treatment of Leukemia

Preliminary studies suggest that the seeds of a cherimoya may provide some benefit in the treatment of leukemia, a blood cancer. Annonaceous acetogenins contained in the seeds are toxic to humans, but may also provide anti-cancer properties by halting the proliferation of designated cell lines. But at this point, research into this potential benefit is still in the early stages.

Allergies

Reports regarding cherimoya allergies are limited. But there is some limited evidence that those with a latex allergy may experience a reaction when consuming certain fruits, including cherimoya. Cross-reactions between latex and plant foods (mainly fruits, particularly avocado and banana, along with chestnuts) have been widely reported.

There has been at least one reported case of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to cherimoya.

Adverse Effects

Cherimoya is not known to interact with any medications or supplements. However, you should avoid consuming the seeds. Several varieties of custard apple have seeds that can cause harm, and cherimoya seeds are widely known to be toxic.

Varieties

A related fruit, soursop, is sometimes called Brazilian cherimoya but it is a different fruit. Both fruits are part of the custard apple family.

When It's Best

Some grocery stores carry cherimoya but you are more likely to find it in tropical areas. Chile, California, and Spain are the main producers of cherimoya. Because the fruit breaks open and bruises easily, cherimoya doesn't ship well and can be hard to find outside of those areas.

Cherimoya season lasts from November until May. When choosing the best cherimoya, look for fruit with bright, green, unbroken skin. Some may have gold tones or brown spots. The fruit should yield slightly when you press it with your finger. Avoid black, shriveled, or overripe fruit.

Storage and Food Safety

Cherimoyas ripen when left at room temperature. Ripe cherimoyas can be refrigerated for up to two days. Storing them longer may lead to a dull taste. Try to eat them within a day or two of ripening for the best flavor.

How to Prepare

Most people consume cherimoya simply by breaking open the fruit and scooping out the creamy flesh. The pulp of this fruit can also be pureed and mixed with other fruits in salads or used as a topping for ice cream.

Cherimoya juice is also commonly consumed as a refreshing drink. In Colombia, for example, the juice is mixed water and garnished with a slice of lemon. You might also try using cherimoya pulp in smoothies.

Recipes

Healthy Cherimoya Recipes to Try

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