Cantaloupe is a delicious summer melon full of healthy nutrients that our bodies need. Like other melons, cantaloupe has a high water content (about 90%), but this certainly does not mean low nutritional value.
Cantaloupes are loaded with vitamin A (opens in a new tab) (in the form of beta-carotene), as well as vitamin C (opens in a new tab), and are a good source of the mineral potassium. It is also low in calories but full of flavor
“This melon is a great choice when it comes to nutrients per calorie,” said Heather Mangieri, a Pittsburgh-based nutritionist and dietitian, author and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“One cup of cantaloupe contains only about 55 calories (due to its high water content), but provides more than 100% of your daily needs for vitamin A, more than 50% of your daily needs for vitamin C, 1.5 grams of fiber, and is good source of potassium,” Mangieri said.
On the subject: Which fruits are low in sugar? (opens in a new tab)
Here is the nutritional value of 100 grams of cantaloupe (about one medium-sized slice) with USDA FoodData Central (opens in a new tab).
|Nutrition facts||Quantity per serving|
|Total fat||0.18 g|
|Total dietary fiber||0.8 g|
|Total sugar||7.88 g|
|Vitamin A||0.232 mg|
What are the benefits of eating cantaloupe?
“Vitamins A and C are antioxidants that keep your body healthy,” Mangieri said. Antioxidants (opens in a new tab) prevent and slow cell and tissue damage by attack free radicals (opens in a new tab), which are molecules that have an unpaired electron. Too many free radicals in the body cause oxidative stress, which leads to problems, but antioxidants maintain a healthy balance of free radicals and help prevent oxidative stress.
On the subject: Vitamin A: Sources, Benefits, and Deficiencies (opens in a new tab)
On the subject: Vitamin C: Sources and Benefits (opens in a new tab)
The vitamin A found in cantaloupe is also a key nutrient for healthy vision, Mangieri said, especially for the ability to see in dim light. Research has found (opens in a new tab) that prolonged and severe vitamin A deficiency can cause complete, irreversible blindness.
Including more fruits and vegetables in your diet in general can keep your eyes healthy and can help resist cataract (opens in a new tab) and macular degeneration (opens in a new tab)two common age-related eye problems, according to Harvard T. Chan School of Public Health (opens in a new tab).
There is strong evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, including melon, is associated with a reduced risk heart disease (opens in a new tab) and a stroke (opens in a new tab)and may also lower blood pressure, according to the Harvard T. Chan School of Public Health.
The fiber (opens in a new tab) and the water in cantaloupe can aid digestion and prevent constipation when included in a high-fiber diet, such as one rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, according to Mayo Clinic (opens in a new tab).
What is the difference between cantaloupe and other melons?
cantaloupe (Cucumis melo) belongs to the gourd family, which also includes cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, pumpkins (opens in a new tab) and zucchini. In North America, cantaloupe and its close relatives are also sometimes called melons. Cantaloupe, Honeydew, European Cantaloupe, Kasaba Cantaloupe and several others are all varieties Cucumis melo all are considered melons.
Cantaloupe can be recognized by its light green skin covered with a beige mesh texture. The European cantaloupe also has a net pattern on the skin, but it is ribbed and usually lighter in color than the cantaloupe. Both melons have salmon-colored flesh inside and a central seed pocket. Cantaloupe tastes slightly sweet and can smell “musky”.
Although they share some similarities, melons and watermelons are different species. There are over 1,000 different types watermelon (opens in a new tab) (Citrullus lanatus).
Tips for choosing a ripe melon
Picking a fresh cantaloupe can be tricky because you can’t see the inside of the cantaloupe. But according to Mangiera, freshness is critical to the fruit’s sweet taste. Pick up a melon and if it seems heavier than you expected, chances are it’s ripe. A ripe cantaloupe should smell sweet when you put your nose next to the fruit, and you should be able to press the skin in a bit with your thumb.
If the melon is not quite ripe when you buy it, you can leave it on the kitchen counter for a few days. But don’t wash the fruit at this point – wait until you’re ready to cut the melon to wash the outer surface to reduce the chance of bacterial growth.
“Although the melon will soften and become juicier over time, the sugar content of the fruit [and sweetness] will not increase significantly after harvest,” Mangieri told Live Science.
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The risks of using cantaloupe
Overall, eating cantaloupe poses little risk to most people. However, since 2006, cantaloupes have been linked to four outbreaks of foodborne illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (opens in a new tab). Most of these cases were caused by bacterial infections Salmonella (opens in a new tab)but people were also sick Listeria (opens in a new tab).
Cantaloupe can be vulnerable to foodborne disease outbreaks because the fruit is grown in close contact with the ground, where it can become contaminated bacteria (opens in a new tab) from soil, water or animals before harvest Colorado State University (opens in a new tab). In addition, melons have a rough and textured outer surface that can harbor bacteria. The bacteria can also be transmitted during the processing of pre-sliced cantaloupe, when the infected rind is cut with a knife. If you continue to use the same infected knife, it can transfer the bacteria to the pulp inside.
To protect yourself from potential foodborne illness, wash the outside of the melon with a brush under running water (without soap) before cutting into it. Using clean hands, a clean knife and a cutting board, first cut off the stem end (where the fruit was attached to the vine) and discard. Research has shown that this area is most likely to have a bacterial infection. Then cut the melon in half and remove the seeds and strings, then cut the flesh of the melon into small pieces or with a knife. After cutting, wash your hands and any utensils used in warm, soapy water.
Bacterial contamination is not the only possible risk when eating melon. Some people with an allergy to ragweed pollen may also develop symptoms oral allergy syndrome (opens in a new tab) immediately after eating melons such as cantaloupe or honeydew, and even watermelons.
Such a reaction occurs because the body immune system (opens in a new tab) recognizes similarities between allergenic proteins in ragweed pollen and proteins in food. (In addition to cantaloupe, ragweed sufferers can also be sensitive to kiwifruit, bananas, cucumbers, and zucchini.)
- Read about cantaloupe production in the United States PennState Extension (opens in a new tab).
- Learn about the many different varieties of cantaloupe (musk melon). Oregon State University (opens in a new tab).
- Learn how to grow your own melon from seed with these tips University of Utah (opens in a new tab).