Food historians have had a hard time when it comes to determining the exact origin of the melon. However, we know that cantaloupes were cultivated in Egypt and across to Iran and Northwest India dating as far back to Biblical times, about 2400 BCE.
When Moses led the Hebrew people into the desert where they wandered for 40 years, one of the foods they craved was melons, possibly a variety of cantaloupe. In Numbers 11:5 the Hebrews remembered, “the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons.”
Cantaloupe is a type of melon that belongs to the cucumber family. Cantaloupes can have a light yellow-orange color or a deeper salmon hue. Known for its low calorie content and sweet and enticing aroma, cantaloupes are the most popular kind of melons in the US. Cantaloupes are usually best during the summer months.
Cantaloupe is an excellent source of Vitamins A, B6 and C, and the mineral potassium. It’s also a very good source of dietary fiber, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, and thiamine. The cantaloupe extract oxykine is rich in superoxide dismutase (SOD), and studies have concluded that cantaloupe SOD extract promotes cellular antioxidant activity and protects against oxidative stress-induced cell death.
The nutrition content of cantaloupe makes it as an excellent fruit and offers various healthy benefits.
- Anti-coagulant: Cantaloupe contains a unique compound which helps of reduce the blood viscosity. Hence, prevents the abnormal clot formation of the blood in the cardiovascular system.
- Arteriosclerosis: Cantaloupe also retards the developing of arteries hardening and thus prevents arteriosclerosis.
- Cancer prevention: Cantaloupe contains SOD (Superoxide dismutase) and studies have shown that SOD promotes a healthy cellular environment by protecting against oxidative cell death. Regular intake of cantaloupe juice or any anti-oxidant rich juice help to keep the cancer at bay, particularly against melanoma and intestinal cancer.
- Cardiovascular: Cantaloupe contains adenosine, which is used in patients with heart disease as a blood-thinning agent, and also as a relief from angina.
- Diabetes fighter: The Superoxide dismutase properties of cantaloupe help diabetes by reducing oxidative stress and kidney cell damage.
- Cataracts: Cantaloupe contains beta-carotene which converts into vitamin A in the body and helps to reduce the risk of cataract and also to improve the vision.
- Cholesterol: As cantaloupe is rich in anti-oxidants and as juices high in antioxidants has also been proven to fight against the oxidative stress which is the main culprit for oxidizing the LDL’s inside the blood.
- High blood pressure: Cantaloupe also brings down high B.P. especially in those individuals with salt-sensitive hypertension; this is because it contains potassium which helps in excreting sodium from the body.
- Immune system: Cantaloupe also stimulates the white blood cells that helps to fight against infection and naturally builds a strong and good immune system due to strong vitamin C content.
- Insomnia: Cantaloupe fruit is a great help for insomniacs. This fruits contains a special compound which relieves the nerves and also calm anxieties.
- Menstruation problems: Women who drink this wonderful juice of cantaloupe around the menstruation time help them with reduce clot and heavy flow.
- Muscle Cramps: Muscle cramps occur due to a deficiency in mineral potassium and it can have a greater susceptible to injuries; thus, drinking juice helps to prevent this condition.
- Pregnancy: Cantaloupe contains high amount of folic acid (folate) which helps to prevent neural tube defects in the infants.
- Quit smoking: The juice contains natural minerals and nutrients that provide a synergistic combination which helps the body to recover from the withdrawal of nicotine for those who are trying to quit or reducing smoking. Smokers are also depleted of Vitamin-A due to smoking and this can be replaced with beta-carotene from the juice.
- Stress: Drinking cantaloupe juice helps to prevent stress. This excellent fruit contains good amount of potassium which help to normalize and re-balance the heartbeat. It also sends oxygen to brain and thus regulates the water balance in the body.
- Water retention: Cantaloupe juice helps the body to excrete excess sodium and thus reducing the water retention.
It is necessary to wash a cantaloupe before cutting, as the surface of the cantaloupe can contain harmful bacteria. Cantaloupe that has been cut should be wrapped and refrigerated, to prevent the ethylene gas that it emits from affecting the taste of other fruit and vegetables.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
The key to purchasing a good quality melon is to find one that is ripe, which is sometimes a challenge because oftentimes they are picked while still unripe in order to ensure that they make it through the shipping process undamaged. There are many clues that you can look for to find a melon that is ripe. The first is by simply picking it up and feeling its weight. Does it feel fuller and heavier than you would expect it to? If so, that’s a good thing, because it’s an indication of the cantaloupe’s ripeness.
Next, tap on the cantaloupe and listen to the sound it makes. If the sound is dull and also deep, that’s another indication that you’re holding a ripe cantaloupe. But if the sound is higher and hollow, your cantaloupe is probably not ripe.
If you press gently on the top of a ripe cantaloupe (the stem end, where the vine was attached) with your thumb, you should feel it give way very slightly. If that spot gives way substantially, to the point of feeling genuinely soft or even squishy, the cantaloupe is probably overripe. A quick check around different areas of the cantaloupe is also a good idea at this point so you can make sure that there is no bruising or damage.
Smelling the bottom of the cantaloupe (opposite from the stem end where the vine was attached) can also be helpful in determining its ripeness. Unripe cantaloupes are likely to have a very faint smell or no smell at all. Ripe cantaloupes are have that sweet aroma – but not in an overpowering way. If the fragrance is overly strong, the cantaloupe may be overripe.
Regardless of whether a cantaloupe is ripe or unripe, it should not be washed as long as it remains whole and uncut.
Wash hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling fresh cantaloupes. When ready to use, scrub whole cantaloupes by using a clean produce brush and cool tap water immediately before eating. Don’t use soap or detergents. Use clean cutting surfaces and utensils when cutting cantaloupes.
If there happens to be a bruised or damaged area on a cantaloupe, cut away those parts before eating it.
Leftover cut cantaloupe should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than three hours because of bacteria contamination. Use a cooler with ice when transporting or storing cut up cantaloupes outdoors.
A delicious way to prepare this fruit is to make them into a smoothie, a perfect drink for kids and grownups alike to help strengthen the immune system and thus fight off viruses which can cause sickness.
EAT THEM ALONE
Melons are very easy to digest. This is due to their high liquid content – they are all 90% or more water. So melons digest almost immediately. They require virtually no digestive action by the stomach and pass through the digestive system very quickly; however, this can only happen if the stomach is empty. If melon is eaten with other foods that require more complex digestive action in the stomach, it can no longer pass through quickly and gets “stuck”. Even though the melon is already broken down sufficiently to pass quickly through the stomach, in effect, it gets trapped there as it must wait for the other foods to be properly digested. As the melon sits and waits in the stomach, it begins to ferment, leading to bloating, gas and other digestive issues.
Due to this fact, it is important to remember the following rule for all types of melons in order to promote healthy digestion: “Eat them alone or leave them alone.”