Amazing Health Benefits of Cantaloupe (Melon)
Most people know it by the name of muskmelon. This musky-flavored and scrumptious melon belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family of plants. Pumpkin, squash, cucumber and gourd are the other well known fruits and veggies belonging to this family. Just like other melons, amazingly tasty cantaloupe also grows on the ground with a vine.
Cantaloupes are believed to have their origins in India, Africa or Persia. Provide them with well-drained, sandy soil with proper water supply and they will grow like anything. They need natural pollination with the help of honeybees.
These are also summer fruits similar to watermelons and mangoes, and are available between April and August.
We can find different type of cantaloupes in different geographies across the world. But there are two which have become well known in the West.
- European Cantaloupe – This muskmelon gets its name from Cantalup, an Italian village. Its scientific name is Cucumis melo cantalupensis and it is recognized by its light ribs and very light-green skin. You can also find further sub-species of this muskmelon. They are charentais and galia melon.
- North American Cantaloupe – This muskmelon is recognized by its net-like skin, which is why we also call it reticulates. Scientifically called Cucumis melo reticulatus, it is well known in the United States and Canada as honeydew melon. It gets its name from its sweet – pale green, juicy flesh.
Muskmelons can be oblong or rounded and can be up to 6.5-inch in diameter, weighing at up to 1.9 or maybe 2 pounds (850g – 1kg) and more. The flesh can have a color ranging from salmon to orange-yellow. It is always juicy and soft and gives its typical musky and sweet aroma for which it is known the world over.
All muskmelons will have a cavity at the center where you can find the tiny beige colored seeds surrounded by a web-like net (mucilaginous).
Health Benefits of Cantaloupe
Muskmelon offers several health benefits. The most important ones are as following:
Low on Fat & Calories
Cantaloupes are amazingly delicious but they don’t have much fat or calories. A 100 g of the fruit supplies your body with less than 34 calories. It is loaded with various minerals, vitamins and poly-phenolic compounds.
Muskmelon is rich in vitamin A. In fact, 100 gram of the fruit will supply more than 110% of your daily recommended dosage of the vitamin. This is one of the best in all the cucurbita fruits.
Vitamin A is not only great for our eyes, it is also a beneficial antioxidant. It is essential for the proper functioning of our skin and mucus membranes. Eating this fruit will help in preventing cancers of the oral cavity and lungs.
Muskmelon is also loaded with the following antioxidant flavonoids:
All these antioxidants protect our cells and tissue against harmful radicals. These radicals can cause various types of cancers including lung, pancreatic, colon, endometrial, breast and prostate cancers.
Cantaloupe melons have one of the highest oxygen radical absorbance capacity of 315 µmol TE per 100 gram. Honeydew melon has a value of 241 µmol TE per 100 gram.
This is an essential dietary carotenoid that is required for one important part of our body – the retinal macula lutea in our eye. This antioxidant works to filter harmful UV rays and protects our eyes. Therefore, eating cantaloupe regularly can help in protecting against Age-Related Macular Degeneration when you get old.
Just 100 gram of muskmelon supplies our body with almost 270 mg of potassium, an essential electrolyte required for our bodily functions. This electrolyte is required by our cells. It is extremely important in controlling our blood pressure and heart rate. It also protects against coronary heart diseases and stroke.
B-Complex Vitamins & Vitamin C
Cantaloupe contains almost all nutrients essential to our body. It also has small amounts of vitamin B-Complex including niacin and pantothenic acid. It also supplies our body with sufficient amount of vitamin C. The vitamin is essential for fighting infections and radicals.
Muskmelon also contains manganese, which is required by our body for a unique antioxidant enzyme known as superoxide dismutase. In fact, these melons are also used commercially for extracting this enzyme. It is then used for protecting our body against many diseases.
How to Select & Store Cantaloupe
As already mentioned, summer is the best time for muskmelons to grow. Make sure to choose only organically grown melons because they are not only delicious they are also loaded with nutrients.
But when choosing a melon, you should check a wedge section for taste and ripeness. You should select one that seems heavy for its size and has a clean rind. It should not be too shiny or the opposite. There shouldn’t be any cuts or rough patches, which mean that the fruit has been damaged during transportation.
Muskmelons need to be kept in a cool place that is properly ventilated. But once you have cut it, keep it in the fridge.
How to Prepare & Serve
The cracks and crevices on the surface of the melon could be home to the salmonella bacteria. So make sure to wash the fruit thoroughly in cold water before eating.
The way you can eat it will depend on its size. You can cube it or slice it, or else you may scoop them into balls.
Serve it in the following way:
- You should eat cantaloupe as it is, without adding anything, so that you can enjoy its natural and original taste.
- You can add the melon sections to your fruit salad.
- You can add them in deserts with custard and ice-creams.
- You can use them to prepare juice, sorbet and jam too.
There is no record of allergies caused by cantaloupes. They may also be eaten by pregnant women or nursing moms. But keep in mind that it belongs to the cucurbita family, it may have cucurbitacin toxin. So avoid any melon that’s not ripe and tastes bitter.