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Dr. Alicia P. Catabay presenting the results of her study. (Inset) Graphical interpretation of an artery (right) clogged by buildup of lipids versus normal artery (left); Photo source: gnet.org

Guyabano is no doubt a super fruit.

A researcher of the National Research Council of the Philippines recently backed this claim up after scientific investigation proved that guyabano can effectively control the increase of cholesterol and sugar in blood – an abnormality that could lead to a condition known as hyperlipidemia.

Dr. Alicia P. Catabay, Dean of College of Pharmacy and research professor at the De La Salle University Health Sciences Institute, presented the results of her study during the Scientific Session of the NRCP Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences last October 4, 2016 at the University of the Philippines-Manila in Taft, Manila. Dr. Catabay is the recipient of 2015 NRCP Achievement Award in Pharmaceutical Sciences Division.

Dr. Catabay found that dried guyabano pulp has the ability to control hyperlipidemia when tested in laboratory mice. Hyperlipidemia is a disorder caused by buildup of lipids (fats, cholesterol and triglycerides) in the blood which could lead to hardening and narrowing of arteries or atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the usual cause of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, which is now the leading cause of death worldwide. Data from the World Health Organization in 2014 show that coronary heart disease is the leading killer among Filipinos.

Guyabano, also known as soursop fruit and guanaba, has gained popularity in alternative healthcare and medicine because of various claims of health benefits and its purported potency to fight and kill cancer cells. However, its therapeutic claims have not been scientifically proven as very few scientific research has been done on guyabano.

But these unsupported claims opened opportunities to researchers like Dr. Catabay to study the fruit particularly its chemical components and their potential for developing new drug.

Phytochemical screening of the guyabano pulp by the researcher showed that the fruit is rich in polyphenols, condensed tannins, saponins, unsaturated steroids, among others. Polyphenols are important micronutrient that acts as antioxidant and offers protection against development of debilitating conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative diseases and cardiovascular diseases as evidenced as previous studies.

Analysis conducted by Dr. Catabay yielded promising results as dried guyabano pulp was found to be effective in controlling the increase of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein caused by diet high in fat and bad cholesterol.  Dr. Catabay also found that to maximize guyabano pulp’s potency as hypolipidemic agent, large dose or amount of dried guyabano pulp is also needed.

Dr. Catabay further recommended exploring and studying other extraction methods of the phytochemicals in guyabano as large dose is needed to get comparable results from using atorvastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug in the market. She also cautioned that if large dose of dried guyabano pulp is used, toxicity studies on this should be also conducted.

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