Cantaloupe is a delicious fruit having a variety of 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 are present in this popular melon.
What is Cantaloupe?
Cantaloupe, also known as muskmelon, is one of the most popular forms of melon in the United States. It is a member of the Cucurbitacaea family and can grow anywhere from 500g to 5kg (1-10 pounds) heavy. The botanical name of muskmelon is Cucumis melo. The other names of this fruit include mushmelon, rockmelon, sweet melon, and spanspek.
It is grown widely in California as well as throughout Europe, although the original source of cantaloupe was actually in Africa, Iran, and India. 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 Nutrition Facts
Cantaloupe is rich in many nutrients that provide various health benefits. It contains carbohydrates, protein, and water. Vitamins in a cantaloupe include vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin C, and vitamin K. The mineral wealth of this fruit includes potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Calories in Cantaloupe
100 grams of cantaloupe contains only 34 calories. It is, therefore, suitable for any weight loss diet.
Health Benefits of Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe is a great fruit, especially in summer as it helps keep you healthy. The diverse benefits it provides are listed below in detail.
Cantaloupe is a rich source of vitamin C and beta-carotene. These nutrients are very helpful in lowering the risk of asthma.
Cantaloupe aids in the prevention of cancer and the eradication of free radicals, the harmful by-products of cell metabolism that lead to a number of dangerous conditions. Cantaloupe is a rich source of beta-carotene, an essential carotenoid that the body requires. It works as an antioxidant and lowers the risk of different types of cancers, and the phytochemicals present in fresh fruits like cantaloupes have also been linked to anti-tumor behavior.
Cantaloupe provides vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and phytochemicals that work against free radicals. Vitamin C scavenges disease-causing free radicals and acts as an important line of defense for a healthy immune system. It also 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.
The water content in cantaloupe makes it a great snack in summer as it prevents dehydration. This is a major reason why muskmelons are included as a snack food in summer picnics.
Skin & Hair Care
Cantaloupes contain 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. Vitamin A is also good for sebum production, which helps keep the hair healthy and moisturized.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Potassium, one of the essential nutrients found in cantaloupes, is a vasodilator, which means 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 increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, which induces a calming sensation. 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 in cantaloupes have anti-inflammatory qualities. This means that having a 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!
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, reduce constipation, and make your bowel movements regular. By ensuring a smooth flow through your digestive tract and colon, you can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer and other dangerous gastrointestinal conditions.
Aids in Pregnancy
The folate content in cantaloupe is very helpful for pregnant women as it helps reduce birth defects. It can prevent neural tube defects and keep the baby healthy without delivering any side effects.
How to select and store Cantaloupe?
Select a cantaloupe that is yellow-orange in color, firm, heavy, and has minimal spots and bruises on its surface. Unclean or bruised cantaloupe has a higher risk of carrying the Salomonella enterica bacteria, so make sure to buy it from a hygienic place and clean it properly before consumption.
You can also buy a raw one if you want to consume it after a few days. The raw one is comparatively harder and slightly green in color. It can be stored at the room temperature for 2-3 days until the time of consumption. Its mild, enjoyable taste increases as the fruit ripens, so many people wait until the flesh is soft and juicy before eating cantaloupes.
Tips to Enjoy
- Cantaloupe is a popular breakfast option, good as an appetizer and a great addition to fruit salads.
- Make a tropical fruit salad with fresh cantaloupe, watermelon, papaya, pineapple and mango and garnish with chocolate syrup to enhance the taste.
- You can make fruit smoothies by adding cantaloupe and pineapple to Greek yogurt for a refreshing treat.
Word of Caution: Cantaloupes are rarely allergenic and do not carry anything that causes side effects. Those taking medications for heart diseases should avoid eating cantaloupe as it can interact with the medicine and cause potassium levels to increase in the blood.