It’s peak season for cantaloupes in the US. While you can find them in most grocery stores year-round, they’re best in June, July, and August, so if you spot some at your local farmer’s market, don’t hesitate to pick up one or two.
Cantaloupes provide an excellent source of antioxidants, like vitamin C and vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids). They also contain important nutrients like potassium, folate, copper, B vitamins, vitamin K, magnesium, and fiber.
Health Benefits of Cantaloupes
Like other plant-based foods, cantaloupes have their own unique set of nutritional attributes. These include fiber, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and one of the highest sources of vitamins A (108% of the daily value) of any fruit, while being low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol. Manganese, a co-factor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, is essential for maintaining strong antioxidant defense, good vision, healthy mucus membranes and skin, and is a known protectant against lung and mouth cancers.
Providing an excellent source of vitamin C (98% of the daily value) to defend the body against infection, cantaloupes are also an excellent source of potassium, which helps control heart rate and blood pressure and protects against stroke and coronary heart diseases. It has antioxidant flavonoids in abundance, such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, a carotenoid absorbed into the retina, where scientists believe it may provide light-filtering functions to protect against age-related macular degeneration. The flavonoid cryptoxanthin shields cells and other areas of the body from free radicals, and may ultimately inhibit colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
Digested Quickly and Easily
This is because cantaloupe, like all the melons, is digested very quickly and easily if there is nothing else in the stomach
If you have difficulty digesting cantaloupe, it’s because there is other food in the stomach.
The worst time to eat cantaloupe or other melons is following a meal, as dessert. In this case, the heavier foods that made up the meal will need to be digested first, leaving the melon to sit in the stomach and ferment, producing unpleasant happenings.
Provides a Natural Energy Boost
Cantaloupe does not require pancreatic enzymes for its digestion, as all the live enzymes needed are already in the fruit. This means eating cantaloupe increases energy rather than sapping it as some foods do.
High Beta-Carotene Content
The orangey color of its flesh is a tip off to the high content of beta carotene in cantaloupe. One study found that levels of this important carotenoid are about 30 times higher than what is found in fresh oranges, and the bioavailability of it is comparable to that found in carrots.
Cantaloupe has plenty of potassium, the mineral that works with sodium to keep heartbeats regulated, and vitamins B3 and B6. These also contribute to cantaloupe being a good choice for energy production.
Cantaloupe is one of only a few fruits that continue to ripen after being picked. This means they can be bought even when they are hard and left to ripen on the kitchen counter. On the morning you walk into the kitchen and instantly smell the aroma of cantaloupe, it’s time to eat it.
Buy cantaloupes whole to protect their vitamin C until it’s time to eat them. Those that have been sliced up and packaged will have lost a portion of the vitamin C that was once present.
But, cantaloupes are also one of several foods often contaminated by toxic insecticides, so it’s best to buy them organic.