The humble cantaloupe may not get as much respect as other fruits. But it should.
This tasty, although odd looking, melon is packed with nutrients. If you don’t think about nabbing a cantaloupe each time you hit the produce section of your grocery store, read on to learn why you may want to think again.
Cantaloupe Nutritious Benefits
Adding fruit of any kind to your diet is beneficial. Cantaloupe, also known as musk melon, is a particularly good choice.
1. Beta Carotene
When it comes to beta carotene, cantaloupe knocks other yellow-orange fruits out of the park. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), cantaloupe has more beta carotene than apricots, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, tangerines, nectarines, and mangoes. One study determined that orange-flesh melons like cantaloupe have the same amount of beta carotene as carrots.
Beta carotene is a type of carotenoid. Carotenoids are pigments that give fruits and vegetables their bright colors. Once eaten, beta carotene is either converted into vitamin A or acts as a powerful antioxidant to help fight free radicals that attack cells in your body.
Vitamin A is important to eye health, a healthy immune system, and healthy red blood cells.
2. Vitamin C
According to the USDA, 1 cup of balled cantaloupe contains over 100 percent of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin C. The Mayo Clinic indicates that vitamin C is involved in collagen production in bones, blood vessels, cartilage, and muscle.
More study is needed on vitamin C to prove its effectiveness against diseases like asthma, cancer, and diabetes. However, eating vitamin C-rich foods may help reduce how long you suffer the next time you catch a common cold.
A Cochrane Library review found vitamin C reduced the length of the common cold in adults by 8 percent. In children, colds were reduced by 14 percent.
Folate is also known as vitamin B-9. Folate is the term used when it is naturally present in foods, while folic acid is the term used for supplements and fortified foods. This vitamin is well-known for preventing neural tube birth defects like spinal bifida. It may also help reduce your risk of some cancers, and help battle memory loss due to aging, although more research is needed.
When it comes to cancer, folate may be a double-edged sword. According to a closer look at studies on folate published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it may offer protection in early cancers and in people low in folate. However, supplementation may stimulate or worsen later-stage cancers, and when taken in high doses.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant women and women of childbearing age need to consume 400-600 micrograms of folate daily. Males over age 13 should consume 400 micrograms. Two cups of balled cantaloupe have 74 micrograms of folate.
Like most fruits, cantaloupe has high water content, at almost 90 percent. Eating cantaloupe helps you stay hydrated throughout the day, which is important for heart health. When you’re hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood. Good hydration also supports digestion, healthy kidneys, and helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Mild dehydration may cause:
- less urination
- dry skin
- dry mouth
Severe cases may be serious and lead to:
- rapid heart rate
- low blood pressure
- shriveled skin
Dehydration is also a risk factor for developing kidney stones.
Straight water is your best bet for staying hydrated. Eating water-rich fruits like cantaloupe can help.
The health benefits of fiber go beyond preventing constipation. A high-fiber diet may reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and help you lose weight by making you feel fuller longer.
The Mayo Clinic recommends these daily fiber intakes:
|Men Under 50||Men Over 50||Women Under 50||Women Over 50|
|38 grams||30 grams||25 grams||21 grams|
Cantaloupe provides 14 percent of your potassium DA. Potassium is an essential electrolyte mineral.
According to the American Heart Association, potassium helps keep the right balance between cells and body fluids. Potassium is also vital to nerve health and proper muscle contraction. Eating a potassium-rich snack like cantaloupe after exercise helps replenish depleted electrolytes.
7. Other Vitamins and Minerals
One cup of cantaloupe contains 1.5 grams of protein. It also has small amounts of these many other vitamins and minerals, including:
- vitamin K
These make it a well-rounded, nutritious fruit choice.
How to Choose Cantaloupe
Cantaloupes are available year round, but this melon shines during the summer when it’s at its freshest and sweetest.
When choosing a ripe cantaloupe, look for one that is symmetrical and feels slightly heavy. The color should be a creamy, light yellow-orange, and there should be little to no green. Ripe cantaloupe should smell sweet and a little musky.
For the freshest taste, use cantaloupe within three days of purchase.
Ways to Use Cantaloupe
Cantaloupes are delicious on their own or in fruit salad, but there are other surprising ways to use them.
- cantaloupe smoothie: This nutritious drink is made from cantaloupe, Greek yogurt, and natural sweetener. It makes a great breakfast or snack. View the recipe.
- cantaloupe salad: Combining cantaloupe with basil, mozzarella, onions, red wine vinegar, and olives gives it a savory kick. View the recipe.
- cantaloupe sorbet: You only need four ingredients to make this frosty treat: cantaloupe, lemon, honey, and water. View the recipe.
- roasted cantaloupe: Most people wouldn’t dream of roasting cantaloupe, but it brings out the melon’s natural sweetness. View the recipe.
When it comes to melons, you can’t do much better than cantaloupe. It’s nutritious, delicious, and versatile.
If you typically buy watermelon or honeydew melon and shy away from cantaloupe, you’re missing out. At 60 calories and no fat per 1-cup serving, adding cantaloupe to your diet arsenal is a smart way to get potent nutrients and sweetness into your healthy eating plan.