7 Important Benefits of Cantaloupe or Muskmelon

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Cantaloupe is a delicious fruit having a variety of health benefits, including healthy skin and eyes, healthy lungs, anticancer potential, 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 Cucurbitaceae 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 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.

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

Cantaloupe Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts

Melons, cantaloupe, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]90.15
Energy [kcal]34
Protein [g]0.84
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.19
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]8.16
Fiber, total dietary [g]0.9
Sugars, total [g]7.86
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
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]36.7
Thiamin [mg]0.04
Riboflavin [mg]0.02
Niacin [mg]0.73
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.07
Folate, DFE [µg]21
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]169
Vitamin A, IU [IU]3382
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.05
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]2.5
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.05
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.08
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA
Cantaloupe is rich in many nutrients that provide various health benefits. As per USDA, it contains carbohydrates, protein, and water. Vitamins in 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.

Improves Vision

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 associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Prevents Asthma

Cantaloupe is a rich source of vitamin C and beta-carotene. These nutrients are very helpful in lowering the risk of asthma.

Anticancer Potential

Cantaloupe contains a good amount of folate; for instance, a quarter of a medium cantaloupe provides 25 mcg. 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.

Boosts Immunity

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

Reduces Dehydration

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

According to Jerry B. Scott, 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, as per research published in the Hypertension Institute, Nashville, USA. Plus, reducing the presence of stress hormones in the body can reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Helps Control Diabetes

Cantaloupe is a fruit with a moderate glycemic load. While a diet excess in fruits is not recommended when trying to manage diabetes, the American Diabetes Association 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. It has also been shown to reduce oxidative stress on kidneys, which can further prevent a number of kidney-related diseases.

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 plenty of cantaloupes to your diet if you’re feeling creaky around the joints!

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.

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. 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.

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, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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