Muskmelon is a species of melon that has been developed into many cultivated varieties. These include smooth skinned varieties such as honeydew, crenshaw and casaba, and different netted cultivars (cantaloupe, Persian melon and Santa Claus or Christmas melon).
Cantaloupe fruit is known by different names in different regional languages. Cantaloupe in Hindi is called “Karbhooza” and Cantaloupe in Tamil is called “Parangi pazham”. Moreover Cantaloupe in Telugu is again known by various names such as Venna pandu, Banka bellam Kirnikaayi.
The Armenian cucumber is also a variety of muskmelon, but its shape, taste, and culinary uses more closely resemble those of a cucumber. The large number of cultivars in this species approaches that found in wild cabbage, though morphological variation is not as extensive. It is a fruit of a type called pepo. Muskmelon is native to Persia (Iran), Anatolia, Armenia, and adjacent areas on the west and the east which is believed to be their center of origin and development, with a secondary center including the northwest provinces of India and Afghanistan. Although truly wild forms of C. melo have not been found, several related wild species have been noted in those regions.
Muskmelons are monoecious plants. They do not cross with watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin, or squash, but varieties within the species intercross frequently. Cantaloupe melons are an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C, and a good source of potassium.
In addition to their consumption when fresh, melons are sometimes dried. Other varieties are cooked, or grown for their seeds, which are processed to produce melon oil. Still other varieties are grown only for their pleasant fragrance. The Japanese liqueur Midori is flavored with muskmelon.
Health Benefits of Muskmelon
1. Strengthens the Immune System:
Cantaloupe is rich in Vitamin C which boosts immunity by stimulating the white blood cells in the body. WBCs are considered as the body’s natural defense mechanism as they prevent foreign bodies from attacking as well as eradicate infections that attack the body. Being a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C also effectively combats free radicals in the body. These free radicals damage the skin and are responsible for causing premature ageing. Thus, introducing cantaloupes in your diet can help keep pre-mature ageing at bay.
2. Cardiovascular Health:
Cantaloupes are rich in potassium which controls blood pressure, thus keeping your heart healthy. This mineral also prevents hypertension and prevents sodium from further harming the body. Cantaloupes are also rich in a compound called adenosine which is beneficial for the heart as it has blood thinning properties. This prevents blood clotting in the cardiovascular system. Vitamin C prevents arteriosclerosis i.e. hardening of arteries whereas folate helps in preventing heart attacks.
3. Prevents Cancer:
Cantaloupes have a high content of Vitamin C and beta-carotene which can effectively fight and eliminate free radicals from the body. These free radicals are harmful as they attack the body cells and cause cancerous growth.
4. Combats Stress:
Cantaloupe is rich in potassium which normalizes the heartbeat and promotes the supply of oxygen to the brain, thus making you feel more relaxed and focused. It also has superoxide dismutase which combats stress by lowering the blood pressure and relaxing the nerves. It prevents cellular death caused due to oxidative stress.
5. Eye Health:
Cantaloupe is rich in beta carotenes which help in maintaining healthy eyesight. On absorption by the body, these beta carotenes get converted into Vitamin A which helps in preventing cataract and improving vision. Studies have proved that regular consumption of foods having high vitamin content can reduce the risk of developing cataracts by 40%.
Consuming beta-carotene helps your retinas — the nerve-rich tissues in your eyes — detect light and transmit information to your brain. Macular degeneration is an age-related condition that can lead to loss of vision. In addition, vitamin A reduces your risk of developing cataracts.
6. Prevents Diabetic Nephropathy:
Diabetic nephropathy is a kidney disorder in which the kidney cells get dangerously damaged. Cantaloupe extract known as “oxykine” can prevent this condition. Moreover, cantaloupe has a low glycemic index (GI) which means that fructose and glucose contained in cantaloupe is a simple sugar. Thus, this fruit is safe for diabetic patients and those suffering from obesity.
7. Beneficial for Lungs:
Regular intake of cantaloupe replenishes the body from the loss of vitamin A over a period due to continuous smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke. This helps in rejuvenating the lungs and is particularly beneficial for smokers whose lungs have been immensely damaged due to smoking. Muskmelon is rich in vitamin A, which can contribute to healthy lungs. A 2003 study, published in the “Journal of Nutrition,” established a relationship between cigarette smoke and vitamin A. Animals in the study that were fed a diet deficient in vitamin A developed emphysema. Benzo(a)pyrene, a known cigarette smoke carcinogen, can cause vitamin A deficiency and produce the same results. Baybutt hypothesized that restoring vitamin A levels with foods rich in vitamin A can help counteract the effects cigarette smoke has on your lungs. A cup of muskmelon provides 5,986 international units of vitamin A — your entire daily
8. Treatment of Insomnia:
Cantaloupe has effective laxative properties as it contains a special compound that relieves the nerves and calms anxieties. Thus, it helps insomniacs to get rid of their sleeping disorders by soothing their nervous system.
9. Treatment of Menstrual Problems:
Vitamin C in cantaloupes is effective in regulating menstrual flow and relieving menstrual cramps in women. Regular consumption of cantaloupe during menstruation can reduce the flow and clotting considerably; and get rid of other menstrual problems. Cantaloupe is also sometimes used to induce menstruation.
10. Aids in Weight Loss:
Cantaloupe aids in weight loss as it is low in calories and high in fiber. Thus, you can eat a high amount of cantaloupe while keeping your caloric intake under control. Fiber is beneficial for weight loss as it takes a long time to leave your stomach and enter the digestive tract, thus making you feel full for a longer time. This slow digesting process prevents you from overeating. Besides, fiber rich foods are often bulky and occupy more space in your stomach, making you feel fuller and preventing you from snacking in between meals.
11. Helps Smokers to Quit Smoking:
Cantaloupe is beneficial for those who are trying to quit smoking. This is because the minerals and nutrients in cantaloupe enable the smoker to deal with nicotine withdrawal symptoms effectively. Moreover, it helps the body to recover faster by replenishing the lost vitamin A of the body due to constant smoking.
12. Beneficial for Pregnant Women:
Folic acid is often recommended to women who are trying to conceive as well as those who are pregnant. The high folate content in cantaloupe helps in the production and maintenance of new cells, especially in pregnant women and it also prevents neutral tube disorders in fetuses. Cantaloupe also prevents water retention by regularly flushing out the extra sodium from the body.
13. Medicinal Property of Cantaloupe Seeds:
Eating crushed cantaloupe seeds can help to expel intestinal worms. They are also effective in treating cough, fever and indigestion.
14. Cures Toothache:
Cantaloupe rind is effective in curing toothache. For this purpose, you can take about 6 grams of cantaloupe skin, add water and simmer till cooked. On cooling, strain and use it as a mouth rinse.
15. Medicinal Value of Cantaloupe Tea:
Cantaloupe root is used to make cantaloupe tea which is an effective diuretic and helps induce vomiting.
Cantaloupe: Skin Benefits
All varieties of melons are great for skin, and cantaloupe melon being the most nutritious among them, is no exception. It offers the following benefits for your skin.
16. Hydrates and Rejuvenates Skin:
Cantaloupe contains Vitamins K and E which play an important role in keeping your skin healthy and radiant. The high water content hydrates your skin from within. Cantaloupe is also a good source of B vitamins, choline and betaine which keep your skin replenished and rejuvenated. Topical application of cantaloupe juice helps in softening and hydrating your skin.
17. Skin Regeneration:
The high content of Vitamins A and C in cantaloupe fruit makes it beneficial for your skin. Vitamin A encourages skin regeneration while Vitamin C is involved in the formation of collagen, the connective tissue that imparts a youthful glow to your skin. You can prepare a face pack by processing some cantaloupe in a blender and adding powdered oatmeal
and yogurt to the pulp to make a thick and smooth paste. Apply this pack all over your face and neck and remove by massaging it in gentle circular movements. Wash off with warm water. This should be applied thrice a week for best results.
18. Anti-ageing Benefits:
Cantaloupe has abundant folic acid which facilitates regeneration of cells, thus imparting you with healthy skin. This is particularly beneficial for pregnant women. Vitamin C on the other hand prevents damage by free radicals. In this way, cantaloupe helps keep wrinkles at bay, maintains skin elasticity and facilitates collagen synthesis, thus providing anti-
19. Treatment of Eczema and Other Skin Problems:
The cantaloupe juice is also an effective lotion for treating eczema and removing freckles. It can also be used as a first aid for burns and abrasions.
Cantaloupe: Hair Benefits:
Cantaloupe contains all the vital nutrients and minerals that are required for maintaining healthy hair and scalp. Its benefits for hair are given below.
20. Combats Hair Loss:
Insonitol is a form of Vitamin B which is required to prevent hair loss and promote hair growth. This vitamin is mostly found in citrus fruits except lemons. Cantaloupe contains sufficient amount of insonitol and hence, regular consumption of this fruit can stimulate hair growth.
21. Perfect Conditioner:
Cantaloupe can be a perfect hair conditioner during the summer months. All you need to do is mash a cup of cantaloupe with a fork and massage your hair with this pulp after shampooing. Wash off after 10 minutes.
22. Nervous System Maintenance:
Muskmelon is a good source of potassium, an electrolyte mineral your body stores in its cells. Potassium works closely with sodium to help keep your blood pressure stable and prevent muscles from cramping. In addition, potassium helps maintain a proper electrolyte balance in extracellular fluid, and in doing so reduces water retention. A cup of muskmelon offers 473 milligrams of potassium, which is 10 percent of the potassium you need daily.
Cantaloupe: Nutritional Value
The various cantaloupe benefits for health can be attributed to its rich nutritional value comprising of Vitamins A, B, C and minerals like magnesium, sodium and potassium.
Moreover, it has zero cholesterol and high level Vitamin B complex such as B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid) and B6 (pyridoxine).
Vitamin A: Beta-carotene, an orange pigment is a primary source of Vitamin A in cantaloupe. A cup of balled cantaloupe provides 5986 international units (IU) of this vitamin which is more than the recommended daily intake for adult men and women.
Vitamin C: Fresh cantaloupe is a rich source of Vitamin C or ascorbic acid. This essential water soluble vitamin plays an important role in the growth and repair of tissues within the body and is also an antioxidant that blocks the action of free radicals. A cup of balled cantaloupe provides 65 mg of Vitamin C which is equivalent to 87% and 72% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for men and women respectively.
Potassium: Cantaloupe has a high content of potassium which is an electrolyte, a mineral that conducts electricity within the body together with other minerals like sodium, calcium and magnesium. Thus, it is an important mineral needed for almost all the processes within the human body. A cup of balled cantaloupe fruit provides 463 mg of potassium which is about 10% of the daily requirement.
Carotenoids: Carotenoids are yellow, orange and reddish pigments synthesized by plants. These pigments impart yellow or orange colour to cantaloupes. They reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. Two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin are vital for proper functioning and vision of the eyes.
Folate: Cantaloupe is a good source of folate, an important water-soluble B vitamin micronutrient, required for the healthy growth and maintenance of cells within the body and helps prevent anaemia.
Myo-Insonitol: Cantaloupe contains a lipid called myo-insonitol which prevents anxiety, insomnia and hardening of arteries.
Cantaloupe can be a tasty treat whether eaten alone or added to summer fruit salads. Besides being delicious, it provides various health and beauty benefits.