Cantaloupe is a delicious fruit that has a wide variety of associated health benefits, including healthy skin and eyes, reduced chances of cancer, healthy lungs, and decreased stress levels. It also strengthens the immune system, prevents arthritis and aids in managing diabetes. These attributes are mainly due to the high levels of vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in this popular melon.
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What is Cantaloupe?
Cantaloupe, also known as muskmelon, is one of the most popular forms of melon in the United States and is grown widely in California as well as throughout Europe, although the original source of cantaloupe was actually in Africa, Iran, and India. It is a member of the Cucurbitacaea family and can grow anywhere from 500g to 5kg (1-10 pounds) heavy. The North American variety is actually closely related to muskmelon, but it has adopted the European name of cantaloupe for all intents and purposes.
Cantaloupe is a popular breakfast option, good as an appetizer and a great addition to fruit salads. Its mild, enjoyable taste increases as the fruit ripens, so many people wait until the flesh is soft and juicy before eating cantaloupes.
Cantaloupe Nutrition Facts
Health Benefits of Cantaloupe
Let us look at the various benefits of cantaloupe in detail:
Carotenoids present in cantaloupes are beneficial for maintaining healthy eyes. They are associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, as is the vitamin C content of cantaloupes.
The nutritional content of a cantaloupe is a powerful tool in the prevention of cancer and the eradication of free radicals, the harmful by-products of cell metabolism that can lead to a number of dangerous conditions, including heart diseases and cancer. Cantaloupe is a rich source of beta-carotene, an essential carotenoid that the body requires. It is not only a precursor to vitamin A, which we will discuss shortly, but it also has been shown to act as a powerful antioxidant. It has been linked to reduced chances of different types of cancers, and the phytochemicals present in fresh fruits like cantaloupes have also been linked to anti-tumor behavior.
Cantaloupe not only provides beta-carotene and phytochemicals working against free radicals but also a healthy dose of vitamin C. Vitamin C scavenges disease-causing free radicals and acts as an important line of defense for a healthy immune system. Also, vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells, which seek out and destroy dangerous bacteria, viruses, and other toxic substances or foreign bodies that may have found their way into our bloodstream. Cantaloupes are extremely powerful boosters for the immune system for these reasons and more.
Cantaloupes are wonderful places to find dietary beta-carotene that ensures no overdose or vitamin A toxicity, because the body only converts as much as it needs, unlike supplements; the rest remains as beta-carotene to fight diseases as antioxidants. The amount that turns into vitamin A enters the skin and stimulates the membrane of skin cells and increases growth and repair. This protects the skin membrane against harmful toxins that prematurely age the skin. Vitamin A cream is also used as a salve for irritation and redness on the skin, due to its naturally soothing qualities.
Reduces Stress & Anxiety
Potassium is one of the essential nutrients found in cantaloupes, and it has been connected to being a vasodilator, which means that it relaxes the blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. Elevated levels of blood pressure can act as a stressor on the body, and can even induce the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Potassium also increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, which induces a calming sensation and a more relaxed attitude. Plus, reducing the presence of stress hormones in the body can reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Early research shows that cantaloupe is connected with improved insulin metabolism, which means a more stable fluctuation of blood sugar, preventing the dangerous spikes and plunges of blood sugar that all diabetics fear. It has also been shown to reduce oxidative stress on kidneys, which can further prevent a number of kidney-related diseases.
The phytochemicals that we spoke about earlier also have anti-inflammatory qualities. This means that having cantaloupe in your diet can help prevent oxidative stress on your joints and bones, thereby reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation of these vital areas can lead to conditions like arthritis, so make sure to add plenty of cantaloupes to your diet if you’re feeling creaky around the joints!
Aids in Digestion
Cantaloupes have a high amount of dietary fiber, which is an essential component of healthy bowel movements and digestive health. Eating a proper amount of dietary fiber can bulk up your stool and reduce your chances of becoming constipated, and can make your bowel movements more regular and consistent. By ensuring a smooth flow through your digestive tract and colon, you can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer and other dangerous gastrointestinal conditions.
Word of Caution: Surprisingly, there are none! Cantaloupes are rarely allergenic and do not carry any of the chemicals that cause allergic reactions. In other words, eat cantaloupes when you can to improve your overall well-being!