Cantaloupe known as muskmelon in India and Britain, is a type of cucumis melo. It belongs to the family of curcurbitaceae. It is a melon native of India, Iran and Africa and is now grown in Europe and United States. A brief on the availability and cultivation of the fruit is outlined below before we see the health benefits of cantaloupe.
It is a round melon with grey thick net like skin with sweet smelling orange, red or yellow flesh inside. In size it may vary from half a kilo to five kilos. It is a delicious fruit with rich flavor.
Major countries producing significant quantities of cantaloupe are India, Iran, Turkey, Egypt and China. Of these, China alone produces 49% of the total cantaloupe grown world over. Cantaloupe is a tropical plant that requires warm temperature for a long time to grow.
Cantaloupe contains 90% water, 8% carbohydrates, 0.8% protein and 0.35 fat. 100 gm of the flesh gives 34 calories of energy. It is a good source of vitamin A – 21% RDA, beta-carotene – 19 % RDA, vitamin C – 14% RDA. It contains smaller amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folate, choline and vitamin K.
It also contains many minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and zinc.
In addition to being a fruit to beat the summer heat there are many important health benefits of cantaloupe.
The reasonably good levels of potassium, dietary fiber and vitamin C in cantaloupe has the potential to decrease the blood pressure by decreasing the sodium level in the blood. This consequently protects the heart and acts against stroke.
Health benefits of Cantaloupe or Musk Melon
Cantaloupe is rich in beta-carotene which is found to prevent colon cancer and prostate cancer. The antioxidant flavonoids such as beta carotene, lutein, zea-xanthin and cryptoxanthin in cantaloupe protects from cancer. Regular consumption of cantaloupe juice can be very beneficial.
The high water content in cantaloupe cures dehydration problems both in children and adults. This property makes it a much sought after fruit particularly during summer season.
As cantaloupe is rich in fiber and moisture, it gives relief from constipation. Regular consumption of cantaloupe can maintain a healthy digestive track thereby preventing constipation.
Choline in cantaloupe helps to maintain the cellular membranes, absorption of fats and to reduce chronic inflammation. The impulses of nerves are better transmitted by choline.
Vitamin A in cantaloupe enhances production of sebum needed to keep the hair healthy and moisturized.
- Mash half a cup of cantaloupe flesh.
- Using your fingertips gently apply this mashed fruit on your hair.
- Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Wash with plain water and shampoo as usual for soft and shiny hair.
One cup of cantaloupe pieces provides 97% of RDA of vitamin C which is required to build and maintain collagen in the body. This collagen promotes healthy skin.
Smokers and those who are constantly exposed to passive smoking can consume cantaloupe regularly. The vitamin A in cantaloupe compensates for the loss of vitamin A in the body due to smoke inhaled. It plays a major role in eliminating lungs related diseases like emphysema. Even long time smokers can regularly consume cantaloupe for healthier lungs.
The high quantity of potassium in cantaloupe regularizes the heart beat. This in turn accelerates the supply of oxygen to the brain resulting in relaxation of the body.
Zea-xantthin present in cantaloupe protects the eyes from age related macular degeneration, particularly in aged people.
Superoxide demutase is an enzyme extracted from cantaloupe. This acts as a high grade antioxidant for the body.
The water soluble folate in vitamin B present in cantaloupe prevents anemia. You can hence give cantaloupe to toddlers to boost their haemoglobin levels. You can add little honey to mashed cantaloupe and give it like a snack. You can also top it with some cherries and make it into a delicious fruit salad.
Protein drink for infants
The extract from cantaloupe seeds contain 3.6% protein, 4% fat and 2.5% carbohydrates. This extract is equivalent to that of soya milk and you can use it safely for infants. (But to consult your baby’s pediatrician before introducing any new food.)
You can dry roast the seeds of cantaloupe and use them as snacks. The seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids which are helpful in preventing heart diseases.
The extract from cantaloupe, oxykine can prevent kidney disorders like diabetic nephropathy. Due to its low glycemic index, cantaloupe extract is good for people suffering from diabetics.
Cantaloupe is useful for regularization of menstrual cycle and also for inducing menstruation in adult women. It is a healthy food for pregnant women as well as to those who are trying to conceive. This is because, cantaloupe can prevent neural tube disorders.
How to consume
Pick a cantaloupe that is fully ripe. Peel the thick skin off. Remove the seeds, cut the orange fleshy fruit into pieces and consume as such. It also tastes better after refrigeration. You can also use it as a desert or as a substitute for high calorie sugary snacks. You can include it in salads made from papaya and mango and by adding a little honey too.