What is Cherimoya?
The cherimoya (Annona cherimola), also spelled chirimoya and called chirimuya by the Inca people, is an edible fruit-bearing species of the genus Annona from the family Annonaceae. It is generally thought to be native to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, spreading through cultivation to the Andes and Central America. Cherimoya is grown in tropical regions throughout the world.
Mark Twain called the cherimoya “the most delicious fruit known to men”. The creamy texture of the flesh gives the fruit its secondary name, custard apple. It is in the same genus, Annona, as soursop. Cherimoya are high in vitamin C which is an antioxidant and helps the body resist infection. They contain vitamin B6 ((pyridoxine) and potassium which helps control blood pressure. Dietary fiber present aids in digestion among others.
History Of Cherimoya
The name originates from the Quechua word chirimuya, which means “cold seeds”, because the plant grows at high altitudes and the seeds will germinate at higher altitudes. In Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia, the fruit is commonly known as chirimoya (spelled accordingly to the Spanish language).
This sweet and pleasant flavored fruit contains an impressive list of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A cup of cherimoya provides 20 milligrams of Vitamin C, almost 33% of the daily recommended value. It also provides 0.5 grams of Vitamin B6, and 0.2 grams of riboflavin. Cherimoya is a good source of potassium, fiber, folate, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron and calcium.
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 75
- Fat 0.7 g – 1%
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 7 mg
- Potassium 287 mg – 8% RDA
- Carbohydrate 18 g – 6% RDA
- Dietary fiber 3 g – 12% RDA
- Sugar 13 g
- Protein 1.6 g – 3% RDA
- Vitamin C 21% RDAntioxidant which
- Calcium 1% RDA
- Iron 1% RDA
- Vitamin B-6 15% RDA
- Magnesium 4% RDA
A single, medium-sized cherimoya fruit contains 30 milligrams of Vitamin C, providing about 35% of the daily recommended intake. Vitamin C in cherimoya is required for the healing of wounds and formation of cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Consumption of one cup of cherimoya daily develops resistance against infectious agents and scavenges harmful free radicals from the body.
Vitamin B6 in cherimoya is required for the proper functioning of our metabolism and immune system. It regulates GABA neuron chemical levels to help get rid of stress and depression. Vitamin B6 also protects from Parkinson’s disease.
One medium cherimoya provides a whopping 5 grams of dietary fiber, amounting to about 90% of the recommended amount. Fiber is essential for keeping the digestive tract healthy and lowering the blood sugar levels. It also adds bulk to the stool, relieving constipation.
Potassium and Copper
Add cherimoya to your diet and you’ll also reap the benefits of its copper and potassium. Your body uses potassium to metabolize carbohydrates and relies on copper for energy production. Both potassium and copper also promote brain function — potassium helps your nerves send electrical signals, while copper helps your body synthesize chemicals that relay signals between nerve cells. Each cherimoya contains 674 milligrams of potassium — 14 percent of the recommended daily intake — and 162 micrograms of copper, or 18 percent of your daily copper intake recommendation set by the Institute of Medicine.
Amazing Health Benefits of Cherimoya
1. Brain Health
Cherimoya fruit is a good source of B vitamins, particularlyvitamin B6 (pyridoxine) which controls the GABA neuro chemicallevels in your brain. Adequate GABA levels calm downirritability, depression and headache ailments. Vitamin B6 alsoprotects against Parkinson’s disease as well as relieves stressand tension.
2. Reduces Cancer risk
Cherimoya fruit have antioxidant which neutralizes free radicals that causes cancer. Cherimoya also contains dietary fiber which prevents absorption of cholesterol in the gut and prevents the mucus membrane of the colon from exposure to toxic substances, thus reducing the risk of colon and liver cancers. It also provides protection against breast cancer.
3. Heart Health
The well balanced ratio of sodium and potassium in cherimoya helps in the regulation of blood pressure levels and heart rate. Moreover, consumption of cherimoya has proven to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL) level in the blood. Hence, it improves blood flow towards the heart, providing protection against heart attack, stroke and hypertension.
4. Boosts Immunity
Cherimoya has vitamin C which helps improve the immune system. It is an antioxidant that helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and eliminates harmful free radicals from the body. Thus, it provides immunity against common diseases like cold and flu as well as prevents infections.
5. Skin Care
Cherimoya has vitamin C which helps in the formation of collagen which provides elasticity to the skin. The antioxidants helps neutralize the free radicals that cause wrinkles and dark spots.
6. Aids in digestion
The fiber present in cherimoya adds bulk to the digestion material thereby helping in bowel movement which helps relieving constipation.
7. Lowers Blood Pressure
Cherimoya contains potassium which acts as a vasodilator which helps relax tension in the blood vessels and arteries, which reduces strain on the cardiovascular system.
8. Strengthens Bones
Cherimoya has copper, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus which helps strengthen bones. This can help delay the onset of osteoporosis and other age-related diseases.
9. Hair Health
Magnesium, zinc iron and Vitamin C present in cherimoya promotes hair growth. Cherimoya provides the beneficial copper enzyme, which helps to maintain the color of the hair, preventing pre- mature hair graying.
10. Wound Healing
Vitamin C in cherimoya is required for the healing of wounds and formation of cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Consumption of one cup of cherimoya daily develops resistance against infectious agents and scavenges harmful free radicals from the body.
11. Cardiovascular health
Vitamin C in cherimoya prevents free radicals from attacking the lipids, thus promoting cardiovascular health. It reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL) levels in the blood. This improves the blood flow in the heart, reducing the risk of heart attacks. A well-balanced sodium and potassium ratio in cherimoya regulates the heart rate and blood pressure. It also counteracts the bad influence of sodium. Fiber in cherimoya prevents the absorption of cholesterol in the gut.
Cherimoya contains several polyphenol antioxidants, which limit damage caused to the cells by free radicals. The flesh, juice and peel, all have decent amounts of antioxidants in them.
13. Maintains Health of the Skin:
Cherimoya fruit has a high content of Vitamin C, which is vital for maintaining the health of the skin. Vitamin C helps in the formation of collagen, a protein, which provides elasticity to the skin. Vitamin C also helps to combat free radicals in the body, providing healthy and flawless skin.
14. Delays Signs of Ageing:
Regular consumption of cherimoya can help to delay the signs of ageing like fine lines, blemishes and wrinkles. It also helps to reverse the pigmentation caused due to free radicals.
15. Promotes Hair Growth:
Cherimoya is a highly nutritious fruit, which can benefit the hair in numerous ways. It contains hair-friendly nutrients like magnesium, zinc iron and Vitamin C, which promote hair growth.
16. Treats Hair Lice & Nits:
Unripe cherimoya fruit powder can help you to get rid of hair lice. Mix the powder with water and apply it on the scalp, one hour before shampooing to treat hair lice and nits.
17. Collagen Formation:
Vitamin C in cherimoya contributes to collagen formation, which makes up a major portion of our hair and scalp.
18. Turns Hair Lustrous & Shiny:
Cherimoya seed oil is ideal for wavy and coarse hair. It hydrates the scalp to make the hair lustrous, shiny and manageable.
19. Prevents Pre-mature Hair Graying:
Cherimoya provides the beneficial copper enzyme, which helps to maintain the color of the hair, preventing pre-mature hair graying. Hence, include cherimoya in your diet to benefit your skin, hair and health in multiple ways. Also, do leave us a comment below.
20. Improves Bone Health
With a diverse range of minerals, cherimoya has been linked to improving the bone mineral density, particularly with its high level of copper, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. This can help delay the onset of osteoporosis and other age-related diseases.
21. Improves Cognition
Vitamin B6 is closely linked to cognitive function, particularly in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. With a significant concentration of vitamin B6 in cherimoya, this fruit has long been known as a brain booster.
22. Protection from Osteoporosis:
Cherimoya fruit contains calcium which is vital for bone health. In this way, it helps in preventing osteoporosis.
23. Cytoprotective Properties:
Cherimoya fruit provides cytoprotective benefits to your body as well. The cherimoya fruit extracts enhance the survival of cells in your system by decreasing the release of lactate dehydrogenase or LDH from your body. High levels of LDH indicate that the cell has been damaged by injury or disease.
24. Great Source of Minerals:
Cherimoya contains abundant amounts of potassium which is required for a normal heartbeat and blood pressure as well as protects from hypertension and stroke. It also supports your metabolism and bowel movement by getting enough fiber. Besides potassium, cherimoya also contains other minerals like magnesium, sodium, zinc and manganese. This fruit is devoid of saturated fat and cholesterol and low in sodium.
25. Medicinal Properties:
Being rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, this fruit can help in curing diseases such as decalcifications, diabetes, stomach contractions, constipation, intestinal transit problems, anemia, hypertension, stomach cramps and other related problems.
Indigenous South Americans have traditionally eaten cherimoya for its mild tranquilizing effects and its ability to stave of anxiety and convulsions. Because of these traditional uses, cherimoya has been studied to examine its effects on the mind. In animal studies, researchers have found that cherimoya had antidepressant effects on mice and have recommended further trials to see if it would have the same effect on humans.
With mental disorders like depression and anxiety on the increase, a natural alternative to the powerful pharmaceutical medications is definitely desirable. Let us hope that the results of these studies bear fruit in the future.
How to Eat Cherimoya?
The best way to eat cherimoya is raw, although it is commonly mixed in with ice creams and other sweet treats. Beginning with a ripe cherimoya, you can slice the fruit in half, revealing the milky flesh in the center, as well as the seeds embedded in it. You will notice that pieces of the flesh will easily break off. You can then spoon out chunks of the fruit with a spoon, similar to eating an avocado. The seeds should be easy to separate, either with the spoon or you can gulp the fruit around the seeds and then spit them out. Do not swallow these seeds, as they are poisonous.
If you don’t want to scoop out and eat the fruit raw, it is also a wonderful addition to fruit smoothies and salads.
Serving Tips and Ideas
Separate the cherimoya flesh from the skin and seeds before consuming. Use cubes of cherimoya in your fruit salads or finely chop cherimoya along with pineapple, salsa and fresh cilantro for a flavorful homemade salsa. Alternatively, pair cherimoya with other fruits in homemade smoothies — it works especially well with slightly tart fruits, such as kiwi and raspberries. If desired, add more nutritional value to your cherimoya smoothies by adding nut butter, protein powder, flaxseed or Greek yogurt.
How To Prepare And Serve Cherimoya
If you have never eaten cherimoya before then you are in for a real treat. It has an absolutely delicious taste when just eaten out of the hand but can also be prepared in a wide variety of ways. To prepare your cherimoya fruit, wash and dry then cut it lengthwise. Discard the seeds and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh.
- It is absolutely delicious the way nature intended with no seasoning or additives.
- You can juice it or use it as an ingredient in a juice mix.
- Cut it into chunks and use it as a topping for ice cream or in a fruit salad.
Cherimoya- Papaya Smoothie
Prep 10 minsTotal 10 mins
Author Dawn Gifford
- 1 medium ripe papaya
- 1 large ripe cherimoya
- 1/2 cup crushed ice or 1 pre-frozen banana
- 1 Tbsp. raw honey
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil (Optional)
- 2 Tbsp. full fat, BPA-free coconut milk, or to desired consistency (Optional)
- Probiotic capsules for extra boost (Optional)
- Peel and de-seed the cherimoya and papaya.
- Puree the fruit and honey in a blender, add the ice or banana, and continue to puree until smooth.
- Add the coconut oil and probiotics, if using.
- If you need to thin out the smoothie, you can add more ice, but it’s even better with coconut milk!
- Pour into chilled glasses and serve at once.
Tropical Cherimoya Salald Dressing
Prep 10 minsTotal 10 mins
Author Dawn Gifford
A bright, tropical dressing to enjoy with salads or as a marinade for fish, seafood or chicken.
- 1 cup pureed cherimoya pulp (about 2 small cherimoyas)
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. sea salt (or more to taste)
- 1 tsp. sesame tahini, sesame oil or powdered sesame seed
- 1 clove fresh, organic garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1 Tbsp. fresh, organic cilantro, minced (Optional)
- Peel, de-seed and purée cherimoya.
- With the blender on a low setting, mix pureed cherimoya pulp with the extra virgin olive oil.
- Add rice vinegar, lemon juice, and salt.
- Add sesame tahini, sesame oil or powdered sesame seed.
- Add garlic, then cilantro, and blend just until completely mixed.
- Enjoy with salads or as a marinade for fish, seafood or chicken.
Cherimoya Cold Summer Soup
Prep 15 minsTotal 15 mins
Author Dawn Gifford
Yield 4 bowls
A tropical, cold summer soup perfect for an appetizer or dessert.
- 1 large ripe cherimoya
- 1 large ripe mango
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 cup milk (coconut or raw, organic cow’s milk are best)
- 1 Tbsp. raw honey
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- Mint or other leaves for garnish
- Chill all ingredients for at least an hour before preparing.
- Peel and seed the mango and cherimoya and cut them into pieces.
- Put the fruit, apple juice, milk, honey and cinnamon in a blender and purée till smooth.
- Pour into serving bowls, add garnish of choice, and serve.
- Enjoy as a bright, fresh appetizer or dessert!
How To Grow Cherimoya
Annona cherimola, preferring the cool Andean altitudes, hybridizes with the other Annona species. A hybrid with A. squamosa called atemoya has received some attention in West Africa, Australia, Brazil and Florida (USA).
The tree thrives throughout the tropics at altitudes of 1,300 to 2,600 m (4,300 to 8,500 ft). Though sensitive to frost, it must have periods of cool temperatures or the tree will gradually go dormant. The indigenous inhabitants of the Andes say the cherimoya cannot stand snow.
In the Mediterranean region, it is cultivated mainly in southern Spain and Portugal, where it was introduced between 1751 and 1797 from where it was carried to Italy, but now can be also found in several countries of Africa, the Middle East and Oceania. It is cultivated throughout the Americas, including Hawaii since 1790 and California where it was introduced in 1871
Large fruits which are uniformly green, without cracks or mostly browned skin, are best. The optimum temperature for storage is 8–12 °C (46–54 °F), depending on cultivar, ripeness stage, and duration, with an optimum relative humidity of 90–95%. Unripe cherimoyas will ripen at room temperature, when they will yield to gentle pressure. Exposure to ethylene (100 ppm for one to two days) accelerates ripening of mature-green cherimoya and other Annona fruits; they can ripen in about five days if kept at 15 to 20 °C (59 to 68 °F). Ethylene removal can be helpful in retarding ripening of mature-green fruits.
Different varieties have different flavors, textures, and shapes. Shapes can range from imprint areoles, flat areoles, slight bump or point areoles, full areoles, and combinations of these shapes. The flavor of the flesh ranges from mellow sweet to tangy or acidic sweet, with variable suggestions of pineapple, banana, pear, papaya, strawberry or other berry, and apple, depending on the variety.
When the fruit is soft-ripe/fresh-ripe and still has the fresh, fully mature greenish/greenish-yellowish skin color, the texture is like that of a soft-ripe pear and papaya. If the skin is allowed to turn fully brown, yet the flesh has not fermented or gone “bad”, then the texture can be custard-like. Often, when the skin turns brown at room temperature, the fruit is no longer good for human consumption. Also, the skin turns brown if it has been under normal refrigeration for too long – a day or two maybe.
In a 100 g serving providing 75 calories, cherimoya is an excellent source (> 19% of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin B6 and a good source (10-19% DV) of vitamin C, dietary fiber and riboflavin (table). Along with other Annona species, Annona cherimola has been shown to possess antioxidant activity in its flesh and skin components.
Negative Effects of Cherimoya
Despite the many health benefits of cherimoya, there are some potential health risks you should be aware of, including complications with pregnancy, allergic reactions, and possible toxicity. Provided you consume the right parts of the fruit in moderation, you should be able to avoid these side effects.
Toxicity – Some elements of cherimoya fruit do have toxic properties, such as the skin of the fruit and the seeds. Do not consume the skin or the seeds for any reason, due to the presence of toxic alkaloids.  In severe cases, consumption can even cause paralysis.
Allergic Reactions – Some people experience allergic reactions to cherimoya, particularly in the form of skin rashes or irritation. If you experience this side effect or any swelling or inflammation in the mouth or throat, discontinue eating the fruit immediately.
Pregnancy – Some research has pointed to potential complications for pregnant women who eat this fruit, due to its stimulant nature. So consult a doctor before adding this exotic fruit to your pregnancy diet.