Health Benefits of Cantaloupe and Ways to Include Them in Your Diet

Cantaloupe
The cantaloupe is a melon that belongs to the same family as the cucumber, squash, pumpkin, and gourd, and like many of its relatives, it grows on the ground on a trailing vine. It is round or oval in shape and usually has a ribless rind. Having a distinctive netted skin, it is also referred to as netted melon. Many of the cantaloupes available today are hybrids of muskmelons and true cantaloupes and have qualities that reflect both.

Cantaloupes range in color from orange-yellow to salmon and have a soft and juicy texture with a sweet, musky aroma that emanates through the melon when it is ripe. Cantaloupes feature a hollow cavity that contains their seeds encased in a web of netting.

What Are the Health Benefits of Cantaloupe?


Besides cantaloupe being part of a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, which reduces the risk of digestive issues, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, cantaloupe also offers specific health benefits thanks to its nutrient content.

Vitamin A

Fresh cantaloupe's orange color provides a hint as to its nutrient content. The hue develops because the fruit contains beta-carotene, an orange pigment that also serves as a source of vitamin A. Each 1-cup serving of balled cantaloupe contains 5,986 international units, or IU, of vitamin A, more than the entire daily recommended intake for adult women and men, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Vitamin A in your system helps maintain healthy tissues, contributing to bone maintenance, functional retinas, skin cell growth, and a strong immune system. Eating cantaloupe on a regular basis helps to avoid the symptoms associated with vitamin A deficiency, including loss of vision and a weak immune system.

Vitamin C

Eating fresh cantaloupe also boosts your intake of vitamin C or ascorbic acid. As an antioxidant nutrient, vitamin C protects your cells from oxidative damage -- damage to your DNA, proteins and cell membranes as a side effect of your metabolism. Preventing this damage proves helpful in fighting disease, and individuals who consume a diet rich in vitamin C have a decreased risk of several types of cancer, including esophageal and colorectal cancer, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Vitamin C also helps your body make collagen, a protein essential to maintaining strong bones and skin. One cup of balled cantaloupe contains 65 milligrams of vitamin C, providing 87 or 72 percent of the daily recommended intake for women and men, respectively, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

Potassium

Cantaloupe also offers heath benefits because of its potassium content. Potassium helps support your metabolism, activating enzymes responsible for breaking down carbohydrates into usable fuel for your cells. It also contributes to electrochemical nerve impulses and muscle contractions, as well as regulation of blood pressure. Eating a 1-cup serving of balled cantaloupe boosts your potassium intake by 473 milligrams, providing about 10 percent of your daily potassium requirements, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

Hydrating water

Cantaloupe’s high water content (just over 90 percent of the fruit is water!) helps hydrate your body—which helps your bod normalize temperature, lubricate joints, and protect the spinal cord. Gargiulo also says adequate hydration is important for healthy digestion and blood pressure levels. So drink (and eat!) up.

Fiber

A high-fiber diet provides a range of health benefits, including lower levels of bad cholesterol and blood sugar, improved bowel function, healthy weight management, and, a reduced risk of mortality. Cantaloupe contains over five percent of your recommended daily fiber intake, so consider it less of a fix-all and more of new fiber-rich food to add to your rotation.

Low(er) sugar and carb content

If you’ve ever tasted cantaloupe, you know that it’s super sweet—which is surprising in light of its (relatively) low sugar content. A one cup serving of cantaloupe contains just 13 grams of sugar and 13 grams of carbs. For this reason, Gargiulo signs off on cantaloupe (as well as watermelon and honeydew) fruits that are likely okay to consume in moderation on the ketogenic diet, as well as on other eating plans in which sensible intake of carbohydrates is key.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF CANTALOUPE


GOOD FOR PREGNANT WOMEN


Cantaloupe contains folate which is known for preventing neural tube defects such as spinal bifida. Folate is thought to help reduce the risk of some cancers and help with memory loss due to aging. More research is being conducted. Two cups of cantaloupe supply roughly 20% of the daily recommended amount of folate needed.

SUPPORTS GOOD MUSCLE HEALTH


Cantaloupe contains potassium which is an important component of cel and body fluids. Potassium helps to control a normal heart rate and aids in regulating healthy blood pressure. Potassium helps to protect against heart disease and stroke. Potassium is a vasodilator because it releases the tension of blood vessels and helps to increase blood flow, therefore it allows for quicker muscle recovery.

MAY PROTECT AGAINST SKIN CANCER


Research has found that orange colored foods such as cantaloupe, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and others are a high source of cartenoids which may reduce the risk of skin cancer. The cartenoids are also known to help with relieving the pain and damage that is associated with sunburns. They may also help to prevent the signs of aging on the skin which includes fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration.

GREAT FOR WEIGHT LOSS


One cup of cantaloupe contains only 60 calories and is very high in water. Nutritionists have declared that cantaloupe is a food with a high nutrient density which is based on the low amount of calories versus the high amounts of health benefits offered. Cantaloupe is also a source of dietary fiber which has the ability to make a person feel full quicker and for a longer time. Nutritionists suggest adding cantaloupe to the diet to ensure that the person is getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals while losing weight.

PROMOTES EYE HEALTH


Cantaloupe contains beta-carotene which is well known to help reduce the risk of developing cataracts. The beta-carotene found in cantaloupe helps to lower the risk, therefore, improving eyesight. Zea-xanthin is an important carontenoid which will get absorbed the retinal macula lutea of the eye. This provides a UV light filtering function. By providing this function, there is now protection from age related macular degeneration in the elderly.

Ways to Include More Cantaloupe in Your Diet


So now that you’re a cantaloupe convert, what are the best ways to serve it up (beyond just like, biting into the flesh)? Gargiulo provides a few simple suggestions:
  • Mix up a hydrating fruit salad with a variety of different delicious fruits.
  • Make a cantaloupe and mint salad, perfect for a summer BBQ: “I scoop the cantaloupe into small cubes, chop up a couple tablespoons of fresh mint from my herb garden, and add a tablespoon of fresh, grated ginger. Squeeze lime juice onto the salad, toss, and enjoy!” Gargiulo says.
  • Whip up a batch of bacon and cantaloupe bites for a sweet and savory appetizer.
  • Prepare a sweet, spicy cantaloupe salsa to use as dip for whole grain tortilla chips or add a layer of flavor to tacos.
  • Serve a chilled ginger cantaloupe soup as the first course at a summer luncheon.
The next time you’re standing in the produce section, debating which fruit to purchase, consider cantaloupe as a prime candidate. From flavor to flavonoids, it’s hard to go wrong.
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