Bet you didn’t know cantaloupes were this healthy5 years ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Summer is coming to a close soon. Why not end it the right way with a delicious, hydrating fruit like the cantaloupe? This sweet melon is almost like the honey dew melon – except for the flesh inside is orange and not green. Incredibly popular in the U.S., it would be no surprise if the cantaloupe landed on your top list of favorite fruits!
This small melon is of the Cucumis melo species and comes from the “Cucurbitaceae family.” The cantaloupe goes by many names, including “mushmelon,” “rockmelon,” “sweet melon” and the South African name “spanspek.” That just goes to show you that cantaloupe isn’t just enjoyed in North America, but in other parts all over the world!
Now wait a sec – all this sounds good and all. But there has to be more to the cantaloupe than its amazing sweet taste, right? You bet there is. In fact, the nutritional value and benefits of the cantaloupe surpass most of your favorite healthy foods!
Cantaloupe May Protect Skin Health
Like most natural orange colored foods, cantaloupe is a very high source of carotenoids, which may help dramatically reduce the risk of skin cancer. Cantaloupe may also provide pain and damage relief from sunburns and slow down signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration.
Cantaloupe May Help Muscle Recovery & Stamina
Cantaloupe just so happens to be a potassium powerhouse! Because of this, cantaloupe can help increase your stamina and faster muscle recovery. Cantaloupe can assist in protecting the body from cardiovascular illnesses like stroke, heart and coronary illnesses. Thanks to the amount of potassium in cantaloupe, this fruit has become another go-to for athletes and gym-enthusiasts.
Cantaloupe May Fight Cancer with Powerful Phytochemicals
Cantaloupe is rich in beta-carotene, zea-xanthin, lutein, cryptoxanthin and other powerful antioxidant flavonoids. These flavonoids protect the body’s cells and other DNA structures from the stress and damages of free radicals. While defending the body against free radicals, cantaloupe can potentially prevent various forms of cancer, including breast, prostate, colon, lung and pancreatic. Cantaloupes also have what are called cucurbitacins, chemical pheromones which cause cancer cells to self-destruct. These same pheromones are naturally found in plants to protect the plants from external damage. If that’s not enough to fight off cancer, the combination of vitamin A and vitamin C have been shown to be the best team against cell mutation! Lucky for us, cantaloupe has a healthy dose of both of these vitamins!
Cantaloupe May Contain Anti-inflammatory Properties
Speaking of “cucurbitacins,” cantaloupe helps protect the body from inflammation with its anti-inflammatory properties – cucurbitacins being one of them! High intakes of cantaloupe results in lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is an assessment of inflammation within the body. Turns out, there are two types of cucurbitacins: cucurbitacin B and cucurbitacin E. Both of them are two known anti-inflammatory compounds that alleviate pain and prevent inflammatory diseases.
Cantaloupe May Lower the Risk of Metabolic Syndrome
Back in 2008, a number of researchers came to the conclusion that cantaloupe can actually lower the risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is cluster of negative conditions which include increased blood sugar, high blood pressure, excess body fat, diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses. Just like high intakes of cantaloupe decreases CRP, it also decreases the risk of metabolic syndrome – especially when eaten with other fruits.
One cup of raw cantaloupe contains:
Vitamin C, 57.3 mg - This vitamin can help you build and maintain collagen. You lose collagen as you age, which weakens the elasticity of the skin. With its antioxidant properties, vitamin C helps protect the skin against free radicals we are all exposed to in the environment. This vitamin also promotes strong, healthy hair and nails. And as you probably know, vitamin C is great at boosting your immune system and fighting off colds.
Niacin, 1.145 mg – Niacin improves cholesterol levels while maintaining skin health. It supports proper brain function and lowers risk of diabetes, arthritis and multiple cardiovascular illnesses.
Folate, 33 µg - Folate (also called vitamin B9) is a very important nutrient, especially for pregnant women. Folate may help prevent cancer and heart disease and improve mental health.
Vitamin A, 264 µg - This vitamin is an antioxidant that supports the immune system and is good for skin and eye health. Vitamin A also promotes cell growth.
Vitamin K, 3.9 µg - Mainly you can find vitamin K in the liver, but you can also find the vitamin in body tissues like the brain, pancreas and heart. Not only does vitamin K form the bones and sensitizes insulin in the molecule, it also prevents calcification, which is when calcium salts build up in your body tissue, vessels and organs, and cause the disruption of your body’s normal process.
Calcium, 14 mg - Adequate calcium may also decrease your risk for colorectal cancer. Recent studies confirm high calcium intake is associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer among both men and women. Maintaining the correct levels of calcium in your system may also reduce risk of breast cancer.
Magnesium, 19 mg - Studies with rats have shown a low level of the mineral magnesium can slow down growth of lean body mass (muscle and bone building) and promote an increase in body fat. This may be due to the body’s need for magnesium in so many different functions, more than 300 according to the National Institutes of Health.
Phosphorus, 23 mg - This mineral may be a key factor in preventing obesity. A study in Lebanon showed that phosphorus supplements in a small group (63 people) for just 12 weeks significantly decreased body weight, BMI, waist circumference and subjective appetite scores.
Potassium, 417 mg - This must-have mineral works with sodium to balance the fluids and electrolytes in the body. Potassium helps keep blood pressure under control and may even help reduce kidney stones and bone loss as you age.
Sodium, 25 mg - Sodium is one of the most important minerals in the human body. It regulates your body’s fluid levels while keeping your brain sharp. Sodium also prevents your muscles from cramping and even defends your skin from free radicals that accelerate your aging process.
Cantaloupe can be eaten fresh and raw (which is by far how most people like to eat the fruit). But cantaloupe is great in a salad. And because of the fruit’s fresh, alluring scent, cantaloupe is used in lotions and body soaps, too!
Are there any other cantaloupe recipes you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them!
Enjoy your healthy life!
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