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Melons serve as quintessential take-along fruits for summer picnics. Though watermelons may be the favourite of most people, the distinct taste of muskmelons makes a more frequent choice in fruit salads. Ease of handling? or the more savoury flavour? pick your choice. 

Though there is much more to this sweet and juicy fruit than being a part of your fruit salad. Muskmelons are a powerhouse of nutrients and health building compounds, which makes it much more than just a summer fruit. The high amount of water and variety of minerals present in muskmelon makes it a perfect remedy for dehydration and high blood pressure. 

Also called cantaloupe, muskmelons are native to Persia, present-day Iran. Muskmelon is so named because of the delightful odour of the ripe fruits. ‘Musk’ is a Persian word for a kind of perfume; ‘melon’ is French, from the Latin melopepo, meaning "apple-shaped melon".  It might interest you to know that your favourite summer snack was also loved by the Egyptians. The oldest pictorial record of muskmelon appears to be in an Egyptian illustration dating back to 2400 B.C and historical records give indications that the Greeks grew muskmelon back in 300 B.C.

Did You Know?

Christopher Columbus carried muskmelon seeds with him on one of his voyages to the New World, and Cantaloupe was first mentioned in English literature in 1739.

Read on to know more about muskmelon and just how it is beneficial for your health.

Some basic facts about Muskmelons:-

  • Botanical name: Cucumis melo
  • Family: Cucurbitaceae
  • Common name: Muskmelon, Cantaloupe, Kharbuja
  • Sanskrit name: Kharbujam
  • Native range and geographical distribution: Muskmelon is native to various countries including Iran, Africa, and India. It is also cultivated in Japan, Korea, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
  • Interesting facts about Muskmelon:
  1. It contains 90% water.
  2. Cantaloupes are very sensitive to cold temperatures and even a mild frost can damage the crop.
  3. Muskmelon seeds have a high nutritional value and are widely consumed for its fat and fibre content.
  4. Cantaloupe was named after the city ‘Cantalupo’(Italy), where it was initially cultivated using Armenia Melon Seeds.
  1. How to choose a good ripe muskmelon?
  2. Muskmelon calories and nutrition facts
  3. Muskmelon benefits
  4. Side effects of muskmelon

Picking the perfect muskmelon is sort of an art. When looking for ripe muskmelon, you should search for three things.

  • Colour: The fruit skin should be a light orange or cream colour. Green indicates an unripe fruit.
  • Stem End: The end of the stem should be smooth and have a rounded scar.
  • Blossom End: The end opposite to stem end is known as blossom end. Smell this part, it should be fragrant. It won't give a sweet smell if the fruit is unripe.

Hundred gram of muskmelon contains about 90.15 g of water, about 34 kcal of energy, and it is loaded with potassium and vitamin A. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene. 

According to the USDA nutrient database, 100 g of muskmelon contains the following nutrients.

Nutrient Value per 100 g
Water 90.15 g
Energy 34 kcal
Carbohydrate 8.16 g
Sugar 7.86 g
Fibre 0.9 g
Fats  0.19 g
Minerals  
Potassium 267 mg
Sodium 16 mg
Phosphorus 15 mg
Magnesium 12 mg
Calcium 9 mg
Iron 0.21 mg
Zinc 0.18 mg
Vitamins  
Vitamin A 169 µg
Vitamin C 36.7 mg
Vitamin B 21g
Vitamin K 2.5 mg
Fats/Fatty acids  
Saturated 0.051 g
Monounsaturated 0.003 g
Polyunsaturated 0.081 g

Muskmelons have several benefits for your health. The many nutritional elements present in muskmelon make it one of the healthiest fruits. Let us explore some of the evidence-based health benefits of muskmelons.

Muskmelon for kidney problems

Cantaloupes are traditionally used for the treatment of various kidney disorders. Recent studies indicate that this sweet fruit is loaded with several nephroprotective (protects kidney function) agents. The primary action of these compounds is fighting free radical damage or the damage caused to your body organs due to oxidative stress.

Furthermore, muskmelons contain a lot of water along with potassium, which makes it an excellent diuretic agent. Muskmelon increases kidney functioning, thus increasing the urine output. This is helpful in clearing away excess toxins from your body and preventing kidney stones.

By decreasing histamines and prostaglandins in body, it helps prevent inflammation, which otherwise can cause various kidney diseases

In lab-based studies, muskmelon peel extract has been found to be effective in suppressing the growth of kidney cancer.

Muskmelon for thyroid function

Did you know consuming muskmelons can improve hypothyroidism symptoms?

Melons are packed with several health building nutrients that help keep up your body functions and reduce fatigue and weariness in people suffering from hypothyroidism.

In vitro (lab-based) studies suggest that muskmelon juice and peel can significantly enhance the production of T3 and T4 hormones, which, in turn, improves thyroid function.

(Read more: Hyperthyroidism)

Muskmelon for menstruation

Irregular or heavy menstruation not only causes discomfort but also it is associated with major health concerns. However, if it's not caused by an underlying disease or condition, it can be easily managed by taking enough vitamin C. Clinical studies indicate that vitamin C helps to regulate menstrual flow by strengthening blood vessel walls. As a good source of vitamin C, muskmelons may be a perfect choice for your heavy bleeding problem.

Also, the anticoagulant property reduces blood clotting resulting in a better flow of menstrual blood.

(Read more: Irregular period causes and treatment)

Muskmelon for weight loss

Muskmelon contains a negligible amount of fats and carbohydrates that can be easily broken down by the body. Also, it is rich in dietary fibre, which helps in reducing weight quickly. Since fibre mixes with water and forms a viscous gel, it helps slow down stomach emptying. This keeps you full for a longer time and reduces hunger pangs.

Furthermore, cantaloupes contain a good amount of potassium which helps in reducing bloating and shedding off all that water weight.

The calorie content of the muskmelon is also low which makes it a good option to include in your diet if you are looking forward to losing some weight.

(Read More: Weight loss diet chart).

Muskmelon for improving eyesight

Muskmelons have a high vitamin A content, which helps in strengthening the eye muscles and protecting your eyes from age-related macular degeneration.

According to the article 'Nutrients for the ageing eye', addition of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in the diet is beneficial in preventing age-related eye disorder. Muskmelon hosts an array of such compounds, such as vitamin A (precursor-beta carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc and is thus the perfect food for improving eye health.

In fact, research evidence indicates that it that consumption of food rich in vitamins decreases the chance of developing cataract by 40 per cent.

Muskmelon for cancer

Studies suggest that vitamin C and other antioxidants present in muskmelon have free radicals scavenging activity. Removal of free radicals helps to prevent cell damage, thus reducing the risk of cancer.

Cucurbitacins are a type of active compounds mainly found in the members of the Cucurbitaceae family and have been found to possess potent anticancer properties. Cucurbitacin B is a natural anti-cancer agent isolated from muskmelon. It affects certain pathways which leads to inhibition of cancer cell growth. Anticancer activity of cucurbitacin B has especially been reported in cases of leukaemia. Cucurbitacin A and cucurbitacin E have also been found to exhibit strong antitumor property.

Muskmelon for cardiovascular problems

Muskmelon is a good source of adenosine, which is a blood thinning factor. Adenosine works in opposition to adrenaline and thus prevents platelet aggregation and blood clotting in the arteries. This means that consuming muskmelons regularly reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Also, muskmelon helps in preventing obesity and diabetes, which are two of the primary risk factors for cardiac problems.

Its zero cholesterol level aids in the prevention of atherosclerosis, which otherwise causes arterial blocking and high blood pressure.

Furthermore, muskmelon provides us with a sufficient amount of potassium. Potassium is a key mineral that the body needs for proper functioning. It helps to lower blood pressure by balancing out the ionic balance of sodium in our body.

(Read more: Heart diseases treatment)

Muskmelon for healthy bones

Muskmelons are enriched with several minerals and vitamins that make it a perfect food for your bones. First, it contains a good amount of vitamin C, increases the production of collagen, a protein which is required for maintaining bone structure.

Muskmelons also contain calcium, the primary structural element present in bones and teeth. It has been indicated that a deficiency of calcium leads to increased chances of bone loss since the body starts to leach it out from your bones. By providing for your daily calcium recommendation, it ensures that you do not suffer from weak bones or fractures.

Muskmelons also exhibit anti-arthritic potential, as demonstrated by research evidence. This is because of the presence of choline, an important nutrient present in muskmelons. Choline possesses potent anti-inflammatory action, which reduces pain and swelling of joints, the major symptoms of arthritis.

(Read more: Osteoporosis symptoms and treatment)

Muskmelon for dehydration

Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, in other words. If you do not provide a replacement for the lost fluids you will end up being dehydrated.

Dehydration is a common problem in tropical areas due to the hot climatic conditions. Being 90% water, muskmelon provides a good source of fluid during summer, which can prevent dehydration. The various minerals present in muskmelon helps correct the electrolyte imbalance caused due to excessive loss of water. A good electrolyte balance not only helps avoid fatigue and muscle cramps but also it ensures that you do not suffer from heat stroke.

Muskmelon for diabetes

In many studies, muskmelon peel has been shown to increase blood insulin levels thus preventing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and helping manage diabetes symptoms. 

Furthermore, oxykine, an active compound present in cantaloupe possesses marked antioxidant activity and in vivo (animal-based) studies indicate that this compound efficiently reduces diabetes-induced kidney damage.

Muskmelon for stomach

Muskmelon helps in preventing stomach ulcers due to high water content and the presence of vitamin C, both of which make it a useful cooling agent.

Several studies indicate that Cucumis melo seeds exhibit anti-ulcerogenic activity (prevents and reduces ulcers). This is due to the ability of muskmelon seeds to scavenge free radicals and strengthen the mucosal barrier of the gastrointestinal tract, protecting it from the eroding effects of excess acid production or stomach acidity.

It contains a high amount of water and dietary fibres which makes it good for the smooth functioning of the digestive system. It improves stomach emptying and ensures a proper bowel movement, protecting you from the woes of constipation. Further, studies have shown that ethanol extract of muskmelon can prevent abdominal swelling.

Muskmelon for good skin and hair

Vitamin C content of muskmelon helps to combats free radicals, facilitating skin rejuvenation and providing a vibrant glow to your skin. It is also an anti-ageing nutrient that promotes overall skin health.

Adequate intake of vitamin C is also needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, a protein which provides the basic structure to skin and promotes hair growth. It provides hydration, which is vital for healthy looking skin and hair. Cantaloupes can even be used as a hair conditioner.

Eating fruits such as cantaloupe are beneficial for hair because they contain vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production. Sebum is a compound that keeps hair moisturized and healthy. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all body tissues, including skin and hair.

(Read more: Home remedies to prevent hair loss)

Muskmelon as immunity-booster

Vitamin C in muskmelon strengthens immunity. Regular consumption of muskmelon has been found to stimulate the production of white blood cells which helps your body in fighting against diseases.

The superoxide dismutase rich extract of muskmelon increases the production of T helper cells and also augments the expression of IFN-gamma, both of which play a vital role in expressing an active immune response against pathogens.

(Read more: Immunity boosting foods)

Muskmelon benefits in pregnancy

There are multiple benefits of muskmelon in all three phases of pregnancy: Pre-pregnancy (when the woman is trying to conceive), during pregnancy, and post pregnancy.

First, the high folate content of muskmelons helps in the development of foetal neural tube in the early weeks of pregnancy along with removing extra sodium and reducing water retention in pregnant women.

Being rich in potassium it prevents heartburn, cramps, anaemia, constipation and blood clotting in expecting mothers. It improves the immunity of both the mother and the baby and also prevents preeclampsia.

A baby’s eyes start developing in the first trimester of pregnancy and achieve full vascularisation towards the end of pregnancy. During this time, consuming a good source of vitamin A, like muskmelon, greatly reduces the risk of any ophthalmological abnormalities in the foetus.

Also being rich in fibre, muskmelon consumption is good for weight management during pregnancy.

In the post-pregnancy period, the nutritional components of muskmelons assist quick recovery and keeping up the nutritional status, According to WHO, newborns are usually deficient in vitamin A. Since a baby derives all of its nutrition from the mother, it is essential to add vitamin A rich foods in a nursing mother's diet. Hosting a good amount of this vitamin, muskmelons could be helpful in the early development of your baby.

(Read more: Post-pregnancy diet chart)

Muskmelon for lungs

Muskmelon is good for lungs as it helps in rejuvenation of the lung cells which are damaged due to smoking.

This is due to the vitamin A content of muskmelons. Preclinical studies demonstrate an inverse relationship with vitamin A and lung cancer risk in smokers.

According to a study, published in the "Journal of Nutrition," Benzo(a)pyrene, a carcinogen present in the cigarette smoke can cause vitamin A deficiency, which leads to the development of emphysema. Muskmelon, being rich in Vitamin A can help to bridge this deficiency, thus preventing lung damage.

Cantaloupes are rich in certain nutrients such as vitamin C and beta carotene, which are known to improve asthma symptoms. However, a clinical study published in 'Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, muskmelon may cause allergy in some people and increases the risk of asthma.

(Read more: Harmful effects of smoking)

  • Muskmelon is rich in dietary fibre. Excess consumption of this fruit can cause diarrhoea.
  • Beta-blockers, a type of medicine which is 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.
  • Being rich in potassium, muskmelons can be harmful for ]individuals with kidney disorders.
  • Consumption of muskmelon in the second trimester of pregnancy may lead to gestational diabetes mellitus.

References

  1. Blood Pressure Association.Why potassium helps to lower blood pressure. Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine, Charterhouse Square, London
  2. N.S. Gill, J. Bajwa, P. Sharma, K. Dhiman, S. Sood, P.D. Sharma, B. Singh and M. Bali. Evaluation of Antioxidant and Antiulcer Activity of Traditionally Consumed Cucumis melo Seeds. Year: 2011; Volume: 6 ; Issue: 1 ; Page No.: 82-89 DOI: 10.3923/jpt.2011.82.89
  3. Gao Y, Cai RL, Xie C, Lin YL, Zhang L, Qi Y. Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of muskmelon base (Pedicellus Melo.) for abdominal distention and constipation.. 2012 Jun 26;142(1):129-35. PMID: 22543170
  4. Vouldoukis I. et al. Induction of th1-dependent immunity by an orally effective melon superoxide dismutase extract. 5:141-145 · January 2003
  5. Parmar HS, Kar A. Protective role of Mangifera indica, Cucumis melo and Citrullus vulgaris peel extracts in chemically induced hypothyroidism.. 2009 Feb 12;177(3):254-8. PMID: 19059228
  6. Wu-Qing Huang, Ying Lu1, MingXu, Jing Huang, Yi-Xiang Su & Cai-Xia Zhang. Excessive fruit consumption during the second trimester is associated with increased likelihood of gestational diabetes mellitus: a prospective study. 08 March 2017; 7:43620 ; DOI: 10.1038/srep43620
  7. Cumming RG, Mitchell P, Smith W. Diet and cataract: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. 2000 Mar;107(3):450-6. PMID: 10711880
  8. World Health Organization [Internet]. Geneva (SUI): World Health Organization; Vitamin A supplementation in postpartum women
  9. Xue Y, Harris E, Wang W, Baybutt RC. Vitamin A depletion induced by cigarette smoke is associated with an increase in lung cancer-related markers in rats. 2015 Oct 14;22:84. PMID: 26462767
  10. Figueredo E, Cuesta-Herranz J, De-Miguel J, Lázaro M, Sastre J, Quirce S, Lluch-Bernal M, De las Heras M. Clinical characteristics of melon (Cucumis melo) allergy. 2003 Sep;91(3):303-8.PMID: 14533664
  11. A. Moreira, P. Moreira, J. Fonseca, F. Pereira, I. Campos, L. Granja, L. Matos, M. Sousa, J. Rodrigues, M. Vaz. Increased dietary beta-carotene intake associated with better asthma quality of life. February 2004Volume 113, Issue 2, Supplement, Page S303; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2004.01.582
  12. Li Y, Xia W, Zhao F, Wen Z, Zhang A, Huang S, Jia Z, Zhang Y. Prostaglandins in the pathogenesis of kidney diseases. 2018 May 29;9(41):26586-26602. PMID: 29899878
  13. Rolim PM, Fidelis GP, Padilha CEA, Santos ES, Rocha HAO, Macedo GR. Phenolic profile and antioxidant activity from peels and seeds of melon (Cucumis melo L. var. reticulatus) and their antiproliferative effect in cancer cells. 2018 Mar 1;51(4):e6069. PMID: 29513789
  14. Parmar HS, Kar A. Protective role of Mangifera indica, Cucumis melo and Citrullus vulgaris peel extracts in chemically induced hypothyroidism.. 2009 Feb 12;177(3):254-8. PMID: 19059228
  15. Livdans-Forret AB, Harvey PJ, Larkin-Thier SM.Menorrhagia: A synopsis of management focusing on herbal and nutritional supplements, and chiropractic. 2007 Dec;51(4):235-46. PMID: 18060009
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