Fruit Facts: Cantaloupe

Healthy Recipes and Nutrition, Nutrition
on November 14, 2011

Cantaloupe is considered to be one of the healthiest foods in the world, even when stacked against other fresh fruits and vegetables. The popularity of cantaloupe as a staple in fruit salads and melon bowls can't be underestimated, and as such, they're generally available year-round in supermarkets in many parts of the world. There are high levels of some very important vitamins in this tasty fruit, combined with a long shelf life and relatively low prices in most markets. Cantaloupe is a medium-sized melon that generally grows in warm weather, or is started indoors in areas with shorter growing seasons.

Selecting your cantaloupe. The right cantaloupe should be firm except for a slight give on the stem end. A robust melon scent should be apparent around the stem end, though some treatments that are used on fruit intended for retail sale may mask or eliminate this scent. The treatments are intended to help eliminate mold, spores and bacteria on the cantaloupe's surface. Large webbing and a slightly lighter side indicates that the melon was picked when it was ripe or nearly ripe, which is generally desired when available. If the skin beneath the webbing is green, the cantaloupe is not yet ripe and will need to be stored at room temperature out of direct sunlight until it has ripened. When it turns to a yellowish color beneath a brown webbing, the melon is ready to eat. A moldy or squishy fruit indicates that some or all of the cantaloupe has rotted. The rich yellow-orange flesh is sweet and ready to eat, but discard any parts that are beginning to discolor.

Nutritional benefits. According to the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, "Cantaloupes are an excellent source of both vitamin A and vitamin C. A six-ounce serving, or roughly a quarter of a melon, provides 100 percent of the U.S. recommended daily allowance of each vitamin." Vitamin A and beta carotene, both available from the consumption of cantaloupe, are essential for eye health, and may help delay or prevent age-related eye issues such as cataracts. Cantaloupe also contains a fair amount of dietary fiber and potassium.