Linda Carruthers, R.D.N.
Diabetes Education, Nutrition
People have their favorites when it comes to melon, and each variety of melon contains some great nutritional properties. Let’s focus on melons people are most familiar with: cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon.
A one-cup serving of cantaloupe has only 53 calories, but it contains 106 percent of the vitamin A daily value and 95 percent of vitamin C. It’s also a good source of potassium and folate. A cup of honeydew has 60 calories, 51 percent vitamin C daily value and 11 percent of potassium. Honeydew also contains some fiber, folate and vitamin B6. Watermelon contains the least amount of calories, coming in at 46 calories per one-cup serving. However, it’s loaded with the antioxidant lycopene, which is linked to decreased risk of cancer, heart disease and age-related eye disorders, and contains a good amount of vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium.
Because melons have such a high water content and also contain potassium, they’re fantastic choices for helping maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Cantaloupe and honeydew melons belong to the muskmelon family. These melons first grew in the Middle East., and there are many different varieties. Watermelon originated in Africa and has over 1,200 different varieties. You may have seen the yellow and seedless watermelons in stores recently.
There are some important things you should know when it comes to selecting the perfect melon. First, choose a firm melon with no obvious bruising. All melons should be heavy for their size, signifying a nice juicy melon. Watermelons are best when they have a yellow belly, which means it has been allowed to ripen in the field instead of the store or marketplace. One variety of the honeydew melon — the Santa Claus — turns yellow as it ripens. The more yellow it is, the sweeter the flavor.
You can store uncut melons at room temperature, but once you cut them, you should store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Prior to cutting any melons, wash them under water, and gently scrub the exterior with a brush to remove soil or any contamination.
If you’re wondering about different uses for melons besides eating them raw, here are some suggestions:
- Make frozen pops out of melon by pureeing with a little sugar and a splash of lime juice. Pour into molds and freeze.
- Use melons to infuse water. Infused water serves as a delicious summertime beverage that contains no added sugar.
- Make kabobs using grapes, melon and cheese cubes for a great summer snack. Keep them cool until they’re ready for eating.
- Take firmer melons (cantaloupe and honeydew slices) and put on a hot grill for one to two minutes on each side, which brings out their sweet flavor.
- Create a melon smoothie. Since their flavor is mild, they make a great smoothie and pair nicely with other fruits.
Melon Challenge: Look for some of the different varieties of melons that you haven’t tried before. Introduce yourself and your family to something new.
FRESH FRUIT SMOOTHIE RECIPE
- 1 cup fresh pineapple
- 1/2 cup cantaloupe or other melon
- 1 cup fresh strawberries
- Juice of 2 oranges
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon honey
Remove rind from pineapple and melon. Cut into chunks. Remove stems from strawberries. You may want to refrigerate ingredients now to save until later. When you’re ready to serve, place all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Serve cold.
Nutritional information per 1-cup (8-ounce) serving: 72 calories; 17 g total carbohydrates; 1 g dietary fiber; 8 mg sodium; total fat 0 g (0 g saturated fat, trans fat 0 g); monounsaturated fat 0 g; 0 g cholesterol; 1 g protein; 4 g added sugars.