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Beyond the Rainbow:

The white superfood now available in the U.S. 


By Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS 


Nutritionists and dietitians have a couple of favorite rules of thumb, like “eat the rainbow” and “don’t eat anything white.” But even good rules like these have their exceptions. Like cauliflower, for example. Or, white meat turkey. 


Or, Graviola. 


Never heard of Graviola? Well, neither had I. Until I went to Jamaica. 


There, I discovered one of the most delicious foods I’ve ever eaten. It’s a fruit called soursop, and honestly, I have never tasted anything like it. Not before and not since. 


They served it everywhere. The fruit was a standard at the breakfast table, and the juice was served at every beach bar in Negril. The reaction of the American tourists to the spectacular deliciousness of soursop became a kind of in-joke among the people who worked at the resort we stayed at. They’d serve it up to a new guest and stand around and wait for the predictable cry of surprised delight. Soursop is a kind of magical combination of pineapple, banana, and strawberry. In your mouth, it goes from tangy to sweet in a burst of flavor that never fails to impress.


I became obsessed with finding soursop when I got back to Los Angeles, but alas it was impossible. This heavenly substance is an extremely finicky plant, and it does not survive the soil/sun combo of Los Angeles, nor does it survive importation from thousands of miles away.


You’re probably wondering what soursop has to do with the subject of this story about Graviola.


Simple. They are one and the same. 


Graviola (also known as soursop) only grows in very warm climates, primarily in Central and South America, and Jamaica. It’s an unusual-looking fruit, and that’s putting it mildly. Truthfully, it is one of the weirdest fruits you’ll ever see. It’s oval-shaped and can weigh as much as 11 or 12 pounds. For comparison, an apple weighs 3 to 4 ounces. 


Ripe Graviola is deep, rich green on the outside. The inner flesh is white with a soft, milky texture. As mentioned, it tastes like a divine cross between pineapple, banana, and strawberry, only probably better than you imagine that to be. 


As with many exotic fruits – mangosteen, goji berries, and acai berries – it turns out the locals love Graviola for its health benefits. And guess what? The locals are on to something. 


Graviola is loaded with vitamin C and a host of other nutrients such as quercetin, tangeretin, and luteolin all of which function as antioxidants. What’s more, a number of test-tube studies show that Graviola (soursop) was able to effectively kill off several types of bacteria including strains that cause yeast infections1. In animal models, Graviola extracts demonstrated anti-inflammatory2, antiviral3, and antimicrobial4 activity. Cell studies have also suggested anti-cancer activity against breast5, lung6, colon7, prostate8, pancreatic9, liver10, and skin cancer11 cell lines. There are no human studies yet, but still. This is one heck of a fruit!


Americans feel challenged to eat enough fruits and vegetables. One of their frequent complaints is that fruits and vegetables just don’t taste that good. So, when we find something as delicious as Graviola, why not look for ways to add it to our diet? 


That's what I did when I got back to LA but, as mentioned, it was just about impossible. But recently, I discovered there’s now a company in Southern California called Agravitae whose owners love Graviola as much as I do! They are the world’s largest grower of 85,000 sustainable Graviola trees, with about a 1,000-acre commercial farm in Belize called TKO Farms. 


Agravitae has developed a way to freeze-dry the vine-ripened fruit to maintain as many nutrients as possible. Now they are working on the best ways to use that freeze-dried powder. 


So far, they’ve come up with amazing first-of-their-kind coffee bars (these taste like rich chocolate bars) as well as a line of premium personal care products. I have an affinity for high-quality skincare so I asked the company to send me samples. All I can say is “Wow.” These products really stand for healthy aging from the inside out and outside in, plus they have this luxurious look and feel. A true treat for your senses, all derived from a single superfruit.

Now that the transportation puzzle has been solved, I’ll be watching for more ways that those of us in the U.S. can enjoy the taste, nutrition, and anti-aging benefits of Graviola. I understand there is much more in the works including tea and premium dietary supplements. I’m eagerly awaiting the samples! Stay tuned! 


Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, also known as “The Nutrition Myth Buster” ™ is a nationally known board-certified nutritionist and expert on diet and weight loss. He has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS as an expert on nutrition has contributed to articles in The New York Times, Forbes, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair Online, Men’s Health, Prevention, and dozens of other print and online publications.

Dr. Jonny is the best-selling author of 15 books including The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Living Low Carb (now in its fourth edition), Smart Fat (with Steven Masley, MD), and The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer.

Follow him @jonnybowden

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