Seven big reasons why cantaloupe belongs on your table

(Health Secrets) Cantaloupe and other melons are the most easily digested food there is, leaving the stomach in just 10 to 15 minutes and requiring no enzyme production on our part.  While most foods drag us down by the effort needed to digest them, cantaloupe is uplifting and provides instant and sustainable energy.  But that’s not all it provides.

Cantaloupe is a storehouse of powerful nutrition and one of the most important sources of carotenoids, compounds related to Vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin.  The most well known carotenoid, beta-carotene, has been shown to be highly effective in the prevention and treatment of cancer.  Cantaloupe is loaded with beta carotene, so don’t forget to pick up a cantaloupe or two when you shop.

More health benefits from this summer favorite

One cup of cantaloupe has only 56 calories but provides 103% of the daily value for Vitamin A.  Both Vitamin A and beta-carotene are important for vision.  In a study of over 50,000 women aged 45 to 67, women who ate the highest dietary amount of Vitamin A had a 39% reduced risk of developing cataracts.  Another study found that people who included cantaloupe in their diet had half the risk of needing cataract surgery compared to those who did not.

Eating 3 or more servings of fruits per day may lower your risk of macular degeneration by 36%.  Macular degeneration is the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, according to a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Cantaloupe and other carotenoid-rich fruits help protect smokers and those who must breathe cigarette smoke.  A common carcinogen in cigarette smoke, benzo pyrene, induces Vitamin A deficiency.  Animals fed a Vitamin A deficient diet developed emphysema, but this was countered with Vitamin A.  Richard Baybutt, associate professor of nutrition at Kansas State, believes Vitamin A’s protective effects help explain why some smokers do not develop emphysema and others do.

Cantaloupe is also an excellent source of Vitamin C, a vitamin that provides antioxidant protection in the water-soluble areas of the body.  Many research studies have shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits high in Vitamin C reduces risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Cantaloupe is a good source of potassium, the mineral that regulates heart rhythm, as well as Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B6, and folate.  These nutrients make cantaloupe an exceptionally good fruit for supporting energy production through good carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar stability.

Buying and using cantaloupe

Cantaloupes are often picked while still green so they can arrive at supermarkets undamaged, and most are unripe when sold.  This is not a problem because cantaloupes continue to ripen after being picked.  Choose one that is evenly shaped and has no bruises or soft spots.  The melon should feel heavy for its size, a sign of juiciness.  Be sure there is no mold around its stem area.  Bring it home and put it on the kitchen counter away from direct sunlight.  When the morning comes that you walk into the kitchen and the first thing you notice is the smell of cantaloupe, it’s ripe.  If you are not ready to eat it, stick it in the refrigerator uncut until you are.  Cutting ahead of time diminishes Vitamin C content.  Most people like melon served chilled.

Melon should be eaten away from all other foods, or if it is to be part of a meal, it should be served first, and never presented as dessert.  This is because melon naturally digests so quickly.  If it is eaten as dessert it must remain in the stomach undigested while heavier foods are digested first, which in some cases can take four or more hours.  While sitting in the stomach, cantaloupe and all other fruits will ferment and cause flatulence, bloating and discomfort.  When eaten alone or ahead of all other foods, melon is rapidly digested with no unpleasant effects.

For more information:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=17

http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/life/botany/cantaloupe-info.htm

 

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