Cantaloupe is a delicious fruit that has a wide variety of associated health benefits, including improved immune system strength, healthy skin and eyes, reduced chances of cancer, healthy lungs, and decreased stress levels, as well as the prevention of arthritis and boosted management of diabetes. These attributes are mainly due to the high levels of vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in this popular melon.
Cantaloupes are the most popular form 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 less commonly grown and consumed in those areas in modern times. The North American variety is actually closely related to muskmelon, but it has adopted the European name of cantaloupe for all intents and purposes. It is a member of the Cucurbitacaea family and can grown anywhere from 500g to 5kg (1-10 pounds).
Cantaloupe is a popular breakfast food, and is also good as an appetizer or element in 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. The nutritive benefits of cantaloupe are derived from the high levels of vitamin-C, vitamin-A, vitamin-B6, potassium, Niacin, dietary fiber, and folic acid.
Health Benefits of Cantaloupe
Cancer Prevention: Cantaloupes are rich sources of beneficial nutrients, including 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 a number of different types of cancer, and the phytochemicals present in fresh fruit like cantaloupes have also been linked to anti-tumor behavior. Overall, the nutritional content of cantaloupes is a powerful tool in the prevention of cancer and the eradication of free radicals, the harmful byproducts of cell metabolism that can lead to a number of dangerous conditions, including heart disease and cancer.
Immune System Booster: Cantaloupes not only have the beta-carotene and phytochemicals working in its favor against free radicals, but also a healthy dose of vitamin-C. Vitamin C similarly scavenges disease-causing free radicals and act 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 of 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.
Healthy Skin: Cantaloupes are wonderful places to find beta-carotene, which is the precursor to vitamin-A. The best part about dietary beta-carotene, instead of supplements, is that there is no chance for overdose or vitamin-A toxicity, because the body only converts as much as it needs; the rest remains as beta-carotene to fight diseases as antioxidants. But the amount that turns into vitamin-A enters the skin and stimulates the membrane of skin cells and increasing regrowth and repair. This protects that membrane into the body 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.
Eye Health: Carotenoids are also beneficial for maintaining healthy eyes. It is associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, as is the vitamin-C content of cantaloupes.
Stress and 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. Excited 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 seriously reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Diabetes: Although human testing is not as widespread as it should be, early studies show cantaloupe to be connected with improved insulin metabolism, which means a more stable fluctuation of blood sugar, preventing the dangerous spikes and plunges of blood sugar all that diabetics fear. It has also been shown to reduce oxidative stress on the kidneys, which can prevent a number of kidney-related diseases.
Arthritis: The phytochemicals that we spoke about earlier also have anti-inflammatory qualities. This means that having a proper amount of 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 cantaloupe to your diet if you’re feeling creaky around the joints!
Digestion: Cantaloupes have a high amount of dietary fiber, which is an essential component of health 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 insuring a smooth flow through your digestive tract and colon, you reduce your risk of colorectal cancer and other dangerous gastrointestinal conditions.
A Few Words of Caution: Surprisingly, there are none! Cantaloupes are rarely an allergenic food, and do not carry any of the chemical that commonly cause allergic reactions. In other words, eat cantaloupe when you can to improve your overall well-being!