When was the last time you cut into a beautiful, ripe cantaloupe and savored this sweet, juicy melon? Not only does this fruit pop with a vibrant orange hue, it is a treasure-trove of goodies for healthy eating. The health benefits of cantaloupe far exceed the minimal amount of work required to prepare this sweet and juicy melon.
We have some great ideas on how to enjoy this versatile fruit, how you can easily grow your own heirloom melons, and all the nutritional 411 to make it easy to add this nutritional powerhouse to menu.
Eat your colors! By eating an assortment of fruits and vegetables that encompass a variety of rainbow colors is the healthiest way to get vital nutrients into our body. Orange fruits, like cantaloupe are loaded with beta-carotene and a great natural source of nutrients needed to keep you healthy.
In the US we grow and consume tons and tons of cantaloupe. A type of muskmelon, Cucumis melo reticulatus, other type are honeydew and casaba.
Most historians agree, the cantaloupe was introduced to the New World by Christopher Columbus. However, the point of origin is uncertain, the fruit is historically linked to several countries including Persia (Iran), India, and Egypt. Any way you slice it, cantaloupe is an integral and enjoyable addition to the American diet.
How To Choose A Ripe Cantaloupe
Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season offer the best tasting and nutrient rich diet. Consuming whole foods at their peak is the optimum way to nourish your body and maintain a healthy way of eating.
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a fresh, juicy cantaloupe from your garden or local farmers market. They are, however, available year round at the grocer, and choosing a ripe melon is easy. Select a heavy fruit that has a symmetrical shape. Select a melon that has a firm feel with no indents or soft spots. The skin should have a uniform yellow-beige hue with only a slight green tint. It should smell sweet and musk like. The stem end should be slightly indented and firm.
You can store your cantaloupe on the kitchen counter for up to three days. Any longer and you risk attracting mold and moisture loss.
Loaded with wonderful nutrients, the cantaloupe has a high water content, beautifully sweet water. It is the kind of fruit you will crave every day when the temperatures soar.
A one cup serving of cantaloupe contains
- 53 Calories
- 1 gram of fiber
- No fat
- No cholesterol
- 80% of the RDI of Vitamin C
- 100% of the RDI of Vitamin A
- 243 mg of potassium
- Folic Acid
- Other trace minerals including Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Thiamin, Riboflavin, and Niacin. Also included is a small amount of Vitamin B6
Vitamin C is a superstar in the world of vitamins and a healthy lifestyle. According to the USDA, a serving of cantaloupe clocks in at a whopping 48 mg of Vitamin C.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a nutrient your body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones. Vitamin C is also vital to your body’s healing process.”
Our bodies don’t produce Vitamin C on their own, so we need to extract it from our diets. Foods rich in Vitamin C include cantaloupe, citrus fruits, berries, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and spinach among others. The recommended amount of Vitamin C for women is 75 mg and 90 mg for men.
Consuming foods with rich Vitamin C content may lower your risk for many types of cancers, including breast, colon, and lung cancers.
Beta-Carotene And Vitamin A
Fruits and vegetables on the yellow-orange end of the color spectrum deliver a good dose of beta-carotene, the pigment found in these colorful foods. When you eat fruits rich in beta-carotene, your body converts it into Vitamin A, an antioxidant superstar that fights off cell damage by attacking free radical in your system.
Vitamin A is important to maintain good eye health, keep your immune system healthy, and aids in the health of red blood cells. There are studies underway to determine if beta-carotene can help slow age related cognitive decline. Additionally researchers are studying the health information around beta-carotene and whether it can help lung strength. Vitamin A for the win!
Keep in mind, Vitamin A can be toxic when taken in high amounts. Be sure to discuss any supplements you plan to take with your doctor.
Potassium is a mineral helps regulate your nerve and muscle functions. According to Medline Plus, potassium “helps your heartbeat stay regular…moves nutrients into cells and waist products out of cells…offset some of sodium’s harmful effects on blood pressure”.
Great sources of potassium include cantaloupe, leafy greens, carrots, and citrus fruits. Selecting foods that are high in potassium and can help regulate our blood pressure and taste great is a win/win!
Folate is provided by eating whole foods, if you take supplements, they are fortified with a synthetic folate called folic acid. Folate is in the B Vitamin family and is required by your body “to make red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, convert carbohydrates into energy, and produce DNA and RNA”, according to a report published by Medical News Today.
Well know for its prevention against neural-tube birth defects like spinal bifida, folate is important for infants and children to help them grow strong bones.
Many manufactured foods are required to include folic acid. Foods such as enriched breads, cereals, and other grain products which help to contribute to the consumers intake.
Folate may also help reduce the risk of some cancers including breast, colorectal, lung, ovarian, and more. However, over consumption of Vitamin B-9 may worse cancer conditions. Consult with your doctor anytime you start a supplement regimen.
Health Benefits Of Cantaloupe For Diabetics
In addition to all the nutritional information listed above. Consuming a serving of cantaloupe offers a few extra, health boosting properties for everyone concerned about their sugar consumption.
Cantaloupe has a high water content making it a juicy choice for people with diabetes. Because of its high water content, paired with low calories and carbohydrates, the cantaloupe has a very low glycemic load score of 4. Translated, that means you digest cantaloupe slowly, therefore it does not cause your blood sugar levels to spike. The Defeat Diabetes Foundation recommends eating cantaloupe in the their whole form for “both diabetics and those at risk for developing diabetes”.
How To Add Cantaloupe To Your Diet
Cantaloupe is a colorful and vibrant fruit to add to your daily diet. Perfectly sweet, easy to prepare, and nutritionally packed, you need to add this melon to your food repertoire. Add a cup of cantaloupe to your next meal for a succulent addition and to up your vitamins and minerals consumption.
How To Prepare Cantaloupe
They are so simple to prepare, you will want to have cantaloupe on your weekly grocery list. You can keep a whole cantaloupe at room temperature, then refrigerate once cut up.
Slice your beautifully selected cantaloupe in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Scoop out the fruit with a melon baller for fun round shapes, cut from the rind as half-moon slices, or dice into chunks. Not matter how you cut it, you will love cantaloupes’ lip smacking goodness.
Cantaloupes are susceptible to food borne illnesses. The web-like outer skin can mask insects that can cause intestinal issues. Be sure to thoroughly scrub the outside of the cantaloupe before cutting. Additionally, wash your knife after each cut to avoid contamination when you drag it through the flesh.
Refrigerate the fruit you haven’t already gobbled up for up to five days.
You can freeze prepared cantaloupe for up to a month. Freeze the chunks in a single layer on a sheet pan, this keeps them from sticking together, then store in a freezer bag or container.
Dried cantaloupe, or cantaloupe leather makes a sweet, easily portable snack. Made easy with the new wave of food dehydrators, having your own custom-made fruit leather is a snap.
Ways To Enjoy Cantaloupe
Sweet and juicy, loaded with nutrients, and low in calories, cantaloupe is a tasty snack.
- Enjoy them on their own, a bowl of cantaloupe chunks is super refreshing on a hot summer day.
- Perfect when added to a fruit salad, mixed with berries, honeydew, and watermelon.
- Layer cantaloupe with your favorite plain yogurt and granola for a healthy parfait.
- Taking cantaloupe to cocktail hour, wrap wedges with prosciutto for a sweet and salty snack.
- Another fun appetizer treat is to skewer cantaloupe chunks with grapes, strawberries, and cheese cubes for a colorful plate of mini fruit salads on a stick.
- Add them to your favorite smoothie recipe.
- Brule or grill them for a sweet smoky dessert served with vanilla ice cream. Grilling works best if your melons are on the firmer side.
- Infuse melon chunks into your water for a sweet and refreshing summer sipper. Simply add chunks to your filtered water or fizzy water and drink up the goodness.
- Too hot to cook! Try this refreshing Chilled Cantaloupe Soup With Lemon and Ginger. It takes only ten minutes to prepare and is the perfect addition to a summer barbeque menu.
- Roast the seeds for a crunchy and nutritious snack. California Cantaloupe offers three great roasting blends to up your cantaloupe seed consumption. After following their cleaning method, get inspired by their fun and creative spice blends like Ranch Cantaloupe Seeds for a crunchy salad addition or Cinnamon Sugar Cantaloupe seeds to top off your morning oatmeal.
Grow Your Own
Cantaloupe melons are a summer fruit related to a honeydew melon and the watermelon. It belongs to the same family as cucumbers, pumpkins, squashes, and gourds.
Most of the cantaloupe melons, Cucumis melo, produced in the United States come from California. Cantaloupes love a long hot growing season, but that doesn’t preclude northern gardeners from growing them successfully.
You can start your cantaloupe seeds indoors in peat pots to give your plants a head start. Heirloom cantaloupe seeds offer gardeners a large, sweet melon with a taste far superior to the ones found at your local grocery store. When you grow your own fruits, you can select varieties that have been bred for flavor as opposed to commercial varieties that are bred for their transpiration qualities.
When you start your plants indoors, use biodegradable peat pots which can be planted directly into your garden. Starting seeds with peat pots allows you to move your hardened-off plants directly into the ground without harming the young plants’ root system.
It is best to keep your melons off the ground as they ripen in your garden. You can use a variety of methods to deter rot and insect damage. A vertical trellis works well and will keep your sprawling plants under control. Melon nets are another alternative to keep them safe and cozy.
No matter what US hardiness zone rules your garden, give cantaloupes a section of your garden acreage this year and enjoy the home-grown healthy goodness of these gorgeous fruits. While you are at it, try your hand at growing a crop of honeydew melons too.
Enjoy The Health Benefits of Cantaloupe
Just one cup of cantaloupe adds so many vitamins and minerals to your daily diet. We all want better heart health, a diet with an antioxidant punch, plenty of dietary fiber, stable blood pressure, and food that tastes great. Regularly adding cantaloupes to your diet will help you reap a plethora of health benefits while adding a sweet and tasty melon to your table. Cantaloupe adds all the good-for-you nutrients without adding a diet busting amount of calories.
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