11 Important Benefits of Cantaloupe or Muskmelon

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Cantaloupe is a delicious fruit having a variety of health benefits. It helps you maintain healthy skin, eyes, and lungs. Cantaloupe also has anticancer potential and it helps relieve stress. It also strengthens the immune system, helps to prevent arthritis, and manages diabetes.

What is Cantaloupe?

Cantaloupe is one of the most popular summer fruits available in the United States. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family and can weigh anywhere between 500g to 5kg (1-10 pounds). The botanical name of muskmelon is Cucumis melo. It is also known by other names like muskmelon, 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. [1]

Whole and sliced cantaloupe melons with green leaves on a white background

Cantaloupe melon makes a refreshing snack in the summer, and it contains nutrients that can benefit a person’s health. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Melons, cantaloupe, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]90.15
Energy 34
Energy [kJ]141
Protein [g]0.84
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.19
Ash [g]0.65
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]8.16
Fiber, total dietary [g]0.9
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]7.86
Sucrose [g]4.35
Glucose (dextrose) [g]1.54
Fructose [g]1.87
Maltose [g]0.04
Galactose [g]0.06
Starch [g]0.03
Calcium, Ca [mg]9
Iron, Fe [mg]0.21
Magnesium, Mg [mg]12
Phosphorus, P [mg]15
Potassium, K [mg]267
Sodium, Na [mg]16
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.18
Copper, Cu [mg]0.04
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.04
Selenium, Se [µg]0.4
Fluoride, F [µg]1
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]36.7
Thiamin [mg]0.04
Riboflavin [mg]0.02
Niacin [mg]0.73
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.11
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.07
Folate, total [µg]21
Folate, food [µg]21
Folate, DFE [µg]21
Choline, total [mg]7.6
Betaine [mg]0.1
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]169
Carotene, beta [µg]2020
Carotene, alpha [µg]16
Cryptoxanthin, beta [µg]1
Vitamin A, IU [IU]3382
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]26
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.05
Tocopherol, gamma [mg]0.11
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]2.5
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.05
12:0 [g]0
14:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.04
18:0 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0
18:1 [g]0
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.08
18:2 [g]0.04
18:3 [g]0.05
Phytosterols [mg]10
Tryptophan [g]0
Threonine [g]0.02
Isoleucine [g]0.02
Leucine [g]0.03
Lysine [g]0.03
Methionine [g]0.01
Cystine [g]0
Phenylalanine [g]0.02
Tyrosine [g]0.01
Valine [g]0.03
Arginine [g]0.03
Histidine [g]0.02
Alanine [g]0.1
Aspartic acid [g]0.14
Glutamic acid [g]0.21
Glycine [g]0.03
Proline [g]0.02
Serine [g]0.04
Sources include : USDA [2]

Cantaloupe Nutrition Facts

As per the USDA, a 100 g serving of raw cantaloupe contains carbohydrates, protein, and water. This melon ball is has a very low caloric content. It contains various vitamins like vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin C, and vitamin K. In terms of minerals, cantaloupe contains potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. [3]

Researchers at Ohio State University, Columbus, United States found that cantaloupes are a very rich source of beta-carotene, which functions as an important antioxidant in the body. [4]

Calories in Cantaloupe

100 grams of cantaloupe contains only 34 calories. It can, therefore, make a portion of very sweet and suitable food for any weight loss plan.

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.

Improves Vision

Having a couple of slices of fresh cantaloupe regularly can be very helpful for your eyes.

Vitamin C, zeaxanthin, and carotenoids, present in cantaloupes, are beneficial for maintaining healthy eyes, according to a study published in the Nutrients journal. They are also associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. [5]

Reduces Asthma Risk

Cantaloupe is a rich source of vitamin C and beta-carotene (vitamin A). These nutrients are traditionally known to be helpful in lowering the risk of asthma.

However, as per a research article published in the European Respiratory Journal, vitamin A is not exactly associated with a decreased risk of asthma in an area with chronic vitamin A deficiency. [6]

Anticancer Potential

Cantaloupe contains a good amount of folate and a quarter of a medium cantaloupe provides about 25 mcg folate.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, preliminary research shows that folate may help provide protection early in carcinogenesis in people with low levels of it. However, it does warn that if administered later at potentially high levels, it can actually promote carcinogenesis. Further research is needed to find out the anti-cancer potential of cantaloupe. [7]

Boosts Immunity

Cantaloupe provides vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and phytochemicals that work against free radicals. According to researches from the National Institutes of Health, Maryland, vitamin C scavenges disease-causing free radicals. [8]

Vitamin A acts as an important line of defense for a healthy immune system, says Dr. Rodrigo Mora, gastrointestinal unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, in a study. 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. [9]

This suggests that having a bowl of freshly cubed cantaloupe can help in boosting your immunity!

Reduces Dehydration

Cantaloupes are mostly full of water and this water content makes them a great summer essential as it prevents dehydration. This is a major reason why muskmelons are included as a snack food in summer picnics. [10]

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. [11]

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. [12]

Cantaloupe also contains many hair-enriching nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, and iron and zinc. These minerals and vitamins help to promote hair growth and simultaneously minimize hair loss. [13]

Regulates Blood Pressure

According to Jerry B. Scott, potassium, one of the essential nutrients found in cantaloupes, is a vasodilator. This means that it helps to relax the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. [14]

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, as per a research published in the Hypertension Institute, Nashville, USA. [15]

Helps Manage Diabetes

Cantaloupe is a fruit with a moderate glycemic load, which means that you can eat it but in moderation. [16]

While a diet excess in fruits is not recommended when trying to manage diabetes, the American Diabetes Association [17] encourages a measured amount of fruit to be beneficial. A small piece of a single fruit or half a cup of mixed ones are recommended.

Slows the Progression of Arthritis

The phytochemicals in cantaloupes have anti-inflammatory qualities, according to the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 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 cantaloupes to your diet if you’re feeling creaky around the joints! [18]

Promotes 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, reduce constipation, and make your bowel movements regular. [19]

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. [20]

A 2017 study, however, has found that consuming cantaloupes in the second trimester can increase your risk of gestational diabetes. It is always the best thing to consult with your gynecologist before adding any new fruit to your diet. [21]

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. A study published in Epidemiology and Infection journal shows that unclean or bruised cantaloupe has a higher risk of carrying the Salmonella enterica bacteria, so make sure to buy it from a hygienic place and clean it properly before consumption. [22]

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 room temperature for 2-3 days until the time of consumption. Its mild, enjoyable taste increases as the fruit ripen, which is why 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.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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