Is Soursop Safe During Pregnancy? Safety and Benefits

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Soursop (or Graviola, as it’s also called) is a common pregnancy craving, especially in some Asian countries, where it’s a popular healthy fruit, sometimes recommended for pregnant women. However, not all is as it seems with soursop – so is it completely safe?

Soursop meat or the white fleshy part of the fruit is safe to eat during pregnancy. It is rich in essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium which help the baby’s development. The black seeds found in soursop are not safe to eat as they can cause miscarriage.

How about leaves of soursop as tea? Can you drink it while pregnant? What are the other safety precautions that you need to take before eating soursop? Let’s dig into this below…

Is it Safe to Eat Soursop When Pregnant?

Aside from its English name soursop, the fruit is also popularly known as Graviola, Guyabano, or Brazilian pawpaw. The fruit is indigenous to the tropical regions of the Americas and Africa. Also, in Southeast Asia, the fruit is widely grown and consumed.

The fruit is oval or heart-shaped with a spiky green exterior. When ripe, the fruit changes color to yellow or light green. The interior of the fruit is white with black seeds. These black seeds are inedible and can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities – and this is the part you need to know about soursop and pregnancy.

These seeds are known to contain Annonacin (source: Oxford), a poisonous chemical compound that can cause serious health issues (Source: Journal of Neurochemistry). For this reason, you should avoid eating soursop seeds when you’re pregnant (source: University of Texas).

fresh soursop also graviola, guyabano and soursop juice in a glass

The flesh of the fruit is eaten fresh or made into juices,  ice creams, and other desserts. When buying it from the grocery, make sure to pick soursop that is ripe. A ripe fruit is soft to touch and has a slightly sweet smell. You can also tell if it’s ripe if it gives in when you gently press it with your fingers.

After that, wash it properly to remove any dirt or pesticide residue. Pesticides are harmful chemicals that can be absorbed by the fruit and can potentially harm your unborn baby (source: Environmental Health Journal).

Fresh, washed soursop that is ripe and in good condition is fine to eat when you’re pregnant. The seeds, however, should be avoided.

Pasteurized soursop juice is the best and safest choice if you choose the juice variety.  This type of juice contains no harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning (source: FDA). 

When making soursop juice at home, make sure to wash the fruit properly and remove the seeds. You can also boil the fruit before juicing it to remove any pesticide residue.

The leaves and bark of the soursop tree have been used in folk medicine for various purposes, such as the treatment of fever, pain relief, and stomach upset. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims. 

The safety of using soursop leaves and bark during pregnancy is not known. It is best to avoid using them as there is a lack of information on their safety.

a cup of medicinal soursop tea with dried soursop leaves

Is Soursop Tea Safe During Pregnancy?

The leaves of the soursop tree are used to make tea. These leaves can have harmful effects on pregnant women and their developing babies. The leaves are considered to have toxic compounds and should be avoided during pregnancy – and the same goes for the fruit seeds, in case a tea is made from those, too.

One study claims that consumption of soursop leaves significantly reduces the uteroplacental transfer of nutrients and consequently impairs fetal growth (source: Journal of Advances in Medical and Pharmaceutical.

Pregnancy cravings can be hard to resist. But it is essential to eat safe and healthy foods during pregnancy. Soursop fruit is safe to eat during pregnancy, as is pasteurized juice, but the seeds and leaves are not. It is best to consult your doctor before consuming any soursop products such as supplements or similar.