Add cantaloupe to your diet
Published 11:44 am Tuesday, August 1, 2023
Well, summer is in full swing, with so many delectable fruits and vegetables available. This week, I’d like to share information on one of my summer favorites.
Cantaloupe, scientifically known as Cucumis melo reticulatus, is believed to have originated in ancient Persia (modern-day Iran). The name “cantaloupe” is derived from the Italian city of Cantalupo, where the fruit was cultivated in the 16th century. Cantaloupes are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, whose other constituents include other melons, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and gourds.
Cantaloupe has many healthful benefits. For starters, it contains choline, a water-soluble nutrient that is often grouped with the vitamin B-complex family due to its biochemical properties. Choline is involved in many of the body’s functions, such as cell structure and messaging, fat transport and DNA synthesis, but one of its most crucial responsibilities is acting as an anti-inflammatory agent. One National Library of Medicine study concluded that choline significantly reduced “inflammatory hyperalgesia,” which is simply an increased sensitivity or response to feeling pain.
Cantaloupe consists of 89 percent water. Also, it provides 1.5 grams of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, per serving. The water and fiber content of cantaloupe helps keep the digestive tract running smoothly. Additionally, the insoluble and soluble fiber found in cantaloupe work together to maintain and promote gut microbiome, the community of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. These “friendly” bacteria help us digest our food, regulate the immune system, and actually help synthesize certain amino acids and vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, biotin and folate. However, for optimal health, do not stop acquiring nutrients, including vitamins and minerals from your diet and supplementation.
Cantaloupe can also be a powerful tool to assist in fat loss. That’s because cantaloupe’s high fiber content helps you feel fuller for longer, so you eat less. Also, it yields only 60 calories per cup and is naturally fat-free. And the potassium found in cantaloupe is essential for maintaining cardiovascular health. Potassium actually plays a role in every heartbeat, in that potassium is essential for all muscle contraction including cardiac, smooth and skeletal muscle. In addition, potassium allows nerves to work and the kidneys to filter the blood properly.
Christopher Columbus was the first to bring the cantaloupe to America in 1492, and it is the most popular melon in the United States. There are 21 different types of cantaloupe cultivars. Like all melons, they grow on vines, on the surface of the ground and do not ripen once picked from the vine. This is referred to as a “non-climacteric” fruit, which also includes raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, watermelons, cherries, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes.
Want to know if a cantaloupe is ripe? It will let you know. The vine will naturally slip from the fruit when it’s harvest time. Otherwise, choose a cantaloupe that feels a bit heavy for their size (extra sugars and water), pick a rind that resembles “raised netting,” or a stem end that yields slightly to pressure. Also, a ripe cantaloupe should have a sweet, almost “musky” aroma.
David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David at email@example.com or text to 864-494-6215.