Why is Cantaloupe Good For You? Cantaloupe Health Benefits
If you are a health nut, trying to lose weight or simply a lover of fruits, then one of the fruits that should top your list is the cantaloupe. Cantaloupes, or melons, are round, seeded fruits with orange-yellow flesh and a very sweet and tangy taste. They exude a very sweet and musky smell when they are ripe, and this smell will simply make your mouth water. However, it is not just saying that the cantaloupe simply tastes and smells good, it is also very good for your health!
Cantaloupes are part of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes other similar plants that grow on vines, such as the classic watermelon, casaba and honeydew melons, cucumbers, squash and the very popular pumpkins.
What’s In a Cantaloupe?
Just like watermelons, cantaloupes are mostly made of water, which doesn’t mean they’re not nutritious, on the contrary. It seems these amazing antioxidant fruits are popping with vitamins and minerals that can support your immune system and prevent some unpleasant afflictions.
There are so many cantaloupe nutrition factors where eating a slice or two daily will give you a much needed vitamin and mineral boost. To name a few vitamins and minerals that it has, cantaloupes contain thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin C and iron. They are also a good source of carbohydrates and proteins, and a whole cantaloupe only contains around 20 calories, despite its sweetness.
But let’s look at a bit more closely at what eating 100 g of this fruit actually brings to the table in terms of nutrients:
- 16 mg of sodium – Sodium helps increase the rate of fluid absorption, making it an excellent aid for runners and other athletes. Apart from this, sodium also helps combat muscle cramps for those engaging in challenging physical activity and it also supports proper muscle, brain and nervous system function.
- 267 mg of potassium, which amounts to 7% of the Daily Recommended Value – this very important mineral is great at regulating the fluid levels in your body, muscle contraction and nerve signals.
- 8 g of carbohydrates – these help fuel your body with energy, specifically the brain, the kidneys, the central nervous system and the heart.
- 0.8 g of protein – your body is particularly fond of protein, since it uses it to support tissue health and maintain proper development and functioning of the skin, muscles, cartilage and bones.
- 67% of the DRV of vitamin A – this vitamin is your ally in preventing age-related eye health issues and in boosting your immune system.
- 61% of the DRV of vitamin C – your body will always need vitamin C, since it’s the building block in the growth and repair of all body tissues. Collagen is also formed in the body with the help of vitamin C, wounds are healed and the bones, cartilage and teeth maintain their healthy functioning.
- 1% of the DRV of iron – this mineral is responsible for the maintenance of your energy levels and focus, while also making sure that all gastrointestinal processes are running smoothly. It also plays an important part in regulating your body temperature.
- 5% of the DRV of vitamin B6 – vitamin B6 is a natural gift that can help improve your mood and better fight against anxiety and depression. This vitamin is also great in promoting cognitive health and may play an important part in treating anemia.
- 3% of the DRV of magnesium – this mineral is also incredible in the fight against depression, while it also helps lower blood pressure. Additionally, it reduces insulin resistance and may help prevent migraines.
- Vitamin K – this vitamin plays an essential role in efficient blood clotting, regulating blood calcium levels and bone metabolism.
What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Cantaloupe?
If you eat a portion of cantaloupe regularly with your meals, you will be able to benefit from the whole host of cantaloupe health benefits! Since they contain a high level of vitamins A, B and C, cantaloupes will help prevent coughs, colds and fevers as they stimulate the immune system.
They also contain folic acids, which is beneficial to mothers who are expecting. Even for more severe diseases such as cancers and diabetes, the high levels of beta-carotenes in cantaloupes can help with reducing cancer risks by repairing cell damage, and lowering blood sugar content.
Additionally, it’s important to note that cantaloupes are incredible antioxidant fruits. Having said this, with every cantaloupe serving you will get a dose of beta-carotene, selenium cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein. Having said this, antioxidants are those that fight the body’s cellular aging process, while also having amazing anti-inflammatory properties. What’s more, both beta-carotene (once it’s converted to vitamin A) and zeaxanthin are essential in promoting eye health.
Selenium, on the other hand, is a powerful antioxidant that efficiently acts against oxidative stress. This appears as a result of an excess of free radicals, which in turn can be caused by smoking, drinking and stress. This is where the cantaloupe’s selenium content comes in by keeping free radical numbers in check.
Selenium may also help prevent heart disease and it’s a key component in maintaining your cognitive health intact. Having said this, studies such as Homeostasis of metals in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, show that patients suffering from dementia-related conditions also suffered from decreased levels of selenium in their system, among others. So integrating cantaloupe in your regular diet may help you maintain healthy cognitive functions and save you from mental decline in your later age.
Selenium is also essential in the proper functioning of the thyroid – this is actually the organ that contains the highest selenium levels out of all the organs in the body. All in all, selenium protects this very important gland in the body from oxidative stress, which may in turn lead to serious health conditions, such as hypothyroidism.
Increased oxidative stress is also the culprit when it comes to asthma, a chronic disease that directly impacts the airways that carry the air from and to the lungs. These airways become inflamed causing their uncomfortable narrowing, which leads to sneezing, coughing and chest tightness. One study, Role of certain trace minerals in oxidative stress, inflammation, CD4/CD8 lymphocyte ratios and lung function in asthmatic patients, shows that the people suffering from asthma who had higher selenium levels in their blood had better functioning lungs.
The fiber that cantaloupe contains, provided it’s integrated into an already high-fiber diet, will help you lower bad cholesterol and blood sugar levels, will improve your bowel functions and will play a key role in the body’s efficient weight management. Your digestive system will run more smoothly and, on top of this, assimilating fiber will also come with a feeling of satiety, making you feel full quicker, which will prevent you from unnecessary snacking.
So, when you eat a cantaloupe, not only are you getting a delicious snack or a tasty dessert, you are giving your body a great health boost as well!
What Are the Health Benefits of Cantaloupe When Using It Externally?
Seeing as cantaloupes are naturally high in vitamin K and vitamin E levels, they can be a great aid in improving troublesome skin complexions. On the other hand, vitamins A and C will help rejuvenate skin cells.
Having said this, you can either use cantaloupe straight on your skin to give it a bit of brightness and moisturize it or you can add other elements such as bananas and honey. You can also experiment by incorporating cantaloupe into a hair mask that’s also meant to revitalize and moisturize dull and dry hair.
How Do You Pick the Right Cantaloupe?
When you don’t have experience in this department, it can often be difficult to pick a cantaloupe that’s ripe and sweet, since you can’t really observe its flesh. However there are subtle hints you can follow in order to pick the perfect cantaloupe.
First off, pick up the cantaloupe and assess how it feels in your hands – if it’s heavier than you’d expected it to be, it means that it’s ripe. To be extra safe, be sure to also smell the fruit – if it smells sweet, then it’s ripe. You can also press your thumb against the fruit, the skin should be a bit softer.
If however you’ve picked a cantaloupe that’s not quite ripe yet, you can still leave it on the kitchen counter for a couple of days while it continues its process. Don’t wash the fruit just yet in order to avoid the chance for bacterial growth.
When you’re growing your own cantaloupes, it’s essential to note their harvest period typically starts early summer and ends late summer. To this end, cantaloupes – otherwise known as muskmelons, take around 90 days to fully develop into ripe fruits from their initial seeds. Depending on the temperatures they’ve been exposed to, cantaloupes will take within 35-45 days to ripen after the flower has been pollinated.
When cantaloupes are fully ripe, their color changes from green to a yellowish-gray hue between the netting – this netted rind should be yellow and quite soft. You’ll also find that they come quite easily off the vine by twisting them, when they are fully ripe. It’s recommended though that you perform these ripening tests with each and every fruit, since they may take different amounts of time to reach their best form.
How Do You Store Cantaloupe?
In order to make sure you get the most out of this delicious antioxidant fruit, you need to know what the best and most recommended storing techniques there are for it.
If you bought a cantaloupe and it could still do with a bit of extra ripening, make sure to leave it out at room temperature for two more days. You can speed up this process by placing it in a closed-up paper bag during this time.
When you refrigerate the entire, uncut cantaloupe, you can expect it to still be fresh for a minimum of 5-7 days, until you finally decide to dig into it. It all depends on how ripe the fruit is and what temperature you’re storing it at – the number of days will vary, but you’ll certainly get to keep it for a little while longer since you first bought it.
If you’ve already carved it, the situation then changes drastically. A cut cantaloupe will be a lot more perishable and refrigeration is undoubtedly needed. You can cover it or wrap it in cling film and store it in the fridge for an additional maximum 3 days.
How Can You Integrate Cantaloupe Into Your Diet?
Cantaloupe is an extremely versatile fruit, as well as easily accessible throughout the world. This means there’s a wide variety of uses for it, if you decide you want to make it a part of your healthy lifestyle.
Depending on your preferences, dietary needs and personal taste, you can easily integrate cantaloupe in a myriad of drinks and dishes.
- You can add Greek yogurt, a bit of sweetener and turn it into a delicious smoothie.
- Just as well, you can make it an integral part of the salad. That’s right, it can work really well when you combine it with elements such as onions, basil, mozzarella and olives. There’s really no end to the cantaloupe salad combinations you can try if you’re feeling a bit adventurous and eager to try new and exciting tastes.
- When it comes to deserts, cantaloupe does not disappoint. You can easily turn this amazing antioxidant fruit into a sorbet by adding lemon, honey and water.
- Cantaloupe is really a fruit that’s been insufficiently explored and few people dare to go beyond the traditional recipes and see what delicious and bold new dishes they can come up with. It’s the same with roasted cantaloupe. It’s not something you would immediately think of doing, but if you give it a try, you’ll see that its natural sweetness suddenly gets amplified, making it a truly savory dish.
As you can see, cantaloupe is one of nature’s most versatile, delicious and rewarding fruits in terms of health benefits. It’s extremely helpful in preventing and treating certain health conditions, while also supporting a robust immune system thanks to its high antioxidant content. It can be easily turned into drinks, smoothies and can become an exciting ingredient in many desserts and salads. With so many qualities under its belt, cantaloupe can easily become a veritable superfruit!