Cantaloupe: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information

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MNT Knowledge Center

Cantaloupes and other summer melons serve as the quintessential take-along snack for summer picnics and barbeques.

Their high water content helps ward off dehydration and combat the heat while their refreshing taste provides a guilt-free, low maintenance dessert for kids and adults alike. The mildly sweet and juicy flavor of cantaloupe makes it a perfect fruit for even the pickiest palates.

Cantaloupes are also commonly known as muskmelons, mush melons, rock melons and Persian melons. They are a member of the botanical family Cucurbitaceae, along with honeydew and watermelons.

Cantaloupe – possible health benefits

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like cantaloupe decreases the risk of obesity, overall mortality, diabetes and heart disease while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight. Continue reading to find out more about how the specific nutrients in cantaloupe can benefit your health.

Cantaloupe
Cantaloupes are also commonly known as muskmelons, mush melons, rock melons and Persian melons. They are a member of the botanical family Cucurbitaceae, along with honeydew and watermelons.

1) Age-related macular degeneration

The antioxidant zeaxanthin, found in cantaloupe, filters out harmful blue light rays and is thought to play a protective role in eye health and possibly ward off damage from macular degeneration.3

A higher intake of all fruits (3 or more servings per day) has also been shown to decrease the risk of and progression of age-related macular degeneration.

2) Asthma

The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients. One of these nutrients is beta-carotene, found in yellow and orange fruits like cantaloupe, pumpkin, carrots and leafy greens like spinach and kale. Vitamin C is another important nutrient that may protect against asthma and is found in abundance in cantaloupe,2 as well as citrus and tropical fruits.

3) Blood pressure

The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in cantaloupe all support heart health. Consuming foods that are high in potassium can help to decrease blood pressure. Getting enough potassium is almost as important as decreasing sodium intake for treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure). Foods that are high in potassium include cantaloupe, pineapple, tomatoes, oranges, spinach and bananas.

High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.8

4) Cancer

Diets rich in beta-carotene from plant foods like cantaloupe may play a protective role against prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition.5 Beta-carotene has also been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population.4

5) Digestion

Cantaloupe, because it is high in both fiber and moisture, helps to prevent constipation, promote regularity and maintain a healthy digestive tract.

6) Hydration

With its high water and electrolyte content, cantaloupe is a great snack to have on hand during the hot summer months to prevent dehydration.

7) Inflammation

Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in cantaloupe that aids our bodies in sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.1

8) Skin and hair

Eating fruits like cantaloupe are beneficial for your hair because they contain vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production, which keeps hair moisturized and healthy. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.

Adequate intake of vitamin C is needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair. One cup of diced cantaloupe provides 97% of daily needs for vitamin C.

Cantaloupe also contributes to overall hydration, which is vital for having healthy looking skin and hair. You can even use it as a hair conditioner! Mash together cantaloupe chunks and avocado, smooth onto hair and leave on for 10 minutes to replenish moisture and add shine.

On the next page we look at the nutritional breakdown of cantaloupe, how to incorporate more cantaloupe into your diet and the potential health risks of consuming cantaloupe.

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MNT Knowledge Center

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Nutritional breakdown of cantaloupe

One cup of diced melon (about 156 grams) contains 53 calories, 0.3 grams of fat, 13 grams of total carbohydrate, 12 grams of sugar, 1.4 grams of fiber, 1.3 grams of protein, 106% the daily value for vitamin A, 95% vitamin C, 1% of calcium and 2% of iron needs. A one-cup serving also provides 5%, or more of the daily value needs for vitamin K, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, magnesium and potassium.

Cantaloupe contains an abundance of antioxidants including choline, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, all of which provide protection against a range of diseases and conditions from the common cold to cancer.

How to incorporate more cantaloupe into your diet

Look for a cantaloupe that is firm, heavy and symmetrical without soft spots or bruising. In-season cantaloupes have the brightest flesh color and the sweetest and juiciest flavor. Off-season cantaloupes tend to be more firm with less flavor and can even be bland. Check to see what the best time to buy cantaloupes is in your area.

Salsa containing cantaloupe
Make a fresh salsa with papaya, mango, jalapeno, cantaloupe, red peppers and chipotle peppers to use as a topper for your favorite fish tacos.

  • One of the best and easiest ways to enjoy cantaloupe is diced fresh, just by itself
  • Make a tropical fruit salad for the whole family with fresh papaya, pineapple, cantaloupe and mango
  • Muddle cantaloupe into your glass of lemonade, iced tea or water for a burst of fresh fruity flavor
  • Make a fresh salsa with papaya, mango, jalapeno, cantaloupe, red peppers and chipotle peppers to use as a topper for your favorite fish tacos
  • Add a few slices of frozen cantaloupe to your smoothies. Combine with pineapple juice, frozen strawberries and unsweetened Greek yogurt for a healthy and refreshing treat
  • Fun with the kids: Make fruit kebabs with cantaloupe, honeydew and strawberries and serve with a yogurt dip.

Potential health risks of consuming cantaloupe

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

Be sure to wash and scrub the outside surface of a cantaloupe before cutting to decrease the risk of harmful bacteria like Salmonella transferring to the flesh of the melon.

Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High potassium foods such as cantaloupe should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.

Consuming too much potassium can be harmful to those whose kidneys are not fully functional.

Further reading

Have you enjoyed reading about the potential health benefits of cantaloupe? Take a look at our collection of articles about other fruits and vegetables.

Alternatively, read our article about the top 10 healthy foods for your daily diet.