Cantaloupes and other summer melons serve as the quintessential take-along snack for summer picnics and barbecues.
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.Fast facts on cantaloupes
Here are some key points about cantaloupes. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
- Cantaloupe compounds may protect against age-related macular degeneration.
- One cup of diced cantaloupe contains only 53 calories.
- Just 200 grams of cantaloupe exceeds your daily vitamin C requirements.
- Cantaloupe can be added to many foods, from smoothies to salsas.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds is associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods such as 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.
Below, we explain how the specific nutrients in cantaloupe can benefit health.
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.
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.
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 such as cantaloupe, pumpkin, carrots, and leafy greens, including spinach and kale. Vitamin C is another important nutrient that may protect against asthma and is found in abundance in cantaloupe, as well as citrus and tropical fruits.
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 reducing sodium intake for the 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.
Diets rich in beta-carotene from plant foods such as 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. Beta-carotene has also been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population.
Cantaloupe, because it is high in both fiber and moisture, helps to prevent constipation, promote regularity, and maintain a healthy digestive tract.
With its high water and electrolyte content, cantaloupe is a great snack to have on hand during the hot summer months to prevent dehydration. It is also a great go-to snack after a workout for this same reason.
Choline is an essential and versatile nutrient that is present in cantaloupe; it aids the body 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.
Skin and hair
Eating fruits such as cantaloupe are beneficial for hair because they contain vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production, which is a compound that 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 percent of a person’s daily needs for vitamin C.
Cantaloupe also contributes to overall hydration, which is vital for having healthy looking skin and hair. It can even be used 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.
One cup of diced melon, or about 156 grams (g), contains:
Cantaloupe is incredibly nutritious.
- 53 calories
- 0.3 g of fat
- 13 g of total carbohydrate
- 12 g of sugar
- 1.4 g of fiber
- 1.3 g of protein
- 106 percent the daily value for vitamin A
- 95 percent vitamin C
- 1 percent of calcium
- 2 percent of iron needs
A one-cup serving also provides 5 percent, 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 protect against a range of diseases and conditions from the common cold to cancer.
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 the local stores to find out the best time to buy cantaloupes.
One of the best and easiest ways to enjoy cantaloupe is to dice it, and eat it fresh, just by itself.
- Make a tropical fruit salad for the whole family with fresh papaya, pineapple, cantaloupe, and mango.
- Muddle cantaloupe into a 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 fish tacos.
- Add a few slices of frozen cantaloupe to 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.
It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and for 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 such as 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.