Cantaloupes are considered one of most nutritious fruits in the world. The secret to the cantaloupe’s antioxidant ability is its high vitamin C and beta-carotene content, inflicting a deadly one-two punch to cancer. Beta-carotene is a fat-soluble antioxidant, and vitamin C protects the water-soluble areas of the body. Together, both provide full protection from damaging oxygen free radicals to all parts of the body.
Because the flesh of the cantaloupe is often pastel-like in color (compared to the more vibrant color of fruits like oranges), we sometimes forget how important cantaloupe can be as a fruit source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids).
Cataloupe juice is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A (beta-carotene) and also contains myo-inositol, a lipid that helps with anxiety, insomnia, and hardening of the arteries. Cantaloupes also contain the greatest amount of digestive enzymes.
carotenoid phytonutrients are joined by the flavonoid luteolin, antioxidant organic acids including ferulic and caffeic acid, and anti-inflammatory cucurbitacins, including cucurbitacin B and cucurbitacin E. The nutrient diversity of cantaloupe is perhaps its most overlooked health benefit!
Melons are recommended by the American Cancer Society as powerful agents in the fight against intestinal cancer and the all-too-common skin cancer, melanoma. They are also an effective antioxidant which boosts immune system function, detoxification, reduces the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
As evidenced by the preceding list of phytonutrients, cantaloupe's nutritional strong suit involves its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Even while it is relatively low in concentration of certain nutrients (like total polyphenols) in comparison to other fruits, cantaloupe still provides us with important amounts because we tend to eat it in larger serving sizes than other fruits.
Juicing Your Cantaloupe
A glass of cantaloupe juice provides an excellent dose of free-radical scavengers and collagen-promoters. It is also rich in vitamin K, as well as containing Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, folate, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, niacin (B3), thiamine (B1), and the antioxidant powerhouse, Superoxide Dismutase (SOD).
When juice fasting, melons are the most convenient source of cheap, nutritious, delicious, refreshing, colorful, revitalizing, energizing juice. One large cantaloupe can produce almost a half a gallon of juice!
A major part of the cantaloupe’s nutritional value is in the rind. Juicing the rind will provide more nutrition but diminish the taste. When juicing cantaloupe with the rind, thinly cut the very outer netted skin off, leaving as much of the green under-layer as possible. Slice and juice, seeds and all. If you have the privilege of finding organic, simply wash, cut and juice.
Picking Your Cantaloupe
The ripe flesh of a cantaloupe can vary in color depending on the hybrid. "Jenny Linds" are one example of a green-fleshed hybrid; "Athena" and "Ambrosia" hybrids have salmon-colored flesh; and the flesh of the Gurney's (TM) hybrids typically has a rich orange color. Cantaloupes have a hollow cavity in their center that is filled with edible seeds. In some parts of the world, cantaloupes are known as "rockmelons."
Melons should be purchased firm and sweet-smelling, with a soft navel. They can be purchased all year around, but during the summer, cantaloupes are local and cheap. To check for ripeness, press firmly against the navel with your thumb, then smell for sweetness. The hard, green cantaloupes found in the cold months will sweeten up after three of four days on the counter.
Cantaloupes are often picked, and shipped, before fully ripening. It's often best to select organic cataloupes since postharvest practices include treatment with a sodium hypochlorite or bleach wash to prevent mold ans salmonella growth. This treatment, because it can mask the melon's musky aroma, can make it difficult for the purchaser to judge the relative quality of different cantaloupes.
Karen Foster is a holistic nutritionist, avid blogger, with five kids and an active lifestyle that keeps her in pursuit of the healthiest path towards a life of balance.