People who are using fruit to boost their health generally gravitate toward berries. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and others are rich in antioxidants and beneficial polyphenols, and they deliver nutrients while having a low glycemic (sugar) impact. In case you missed it, here is our post on raspberries from last week.
But what about melons? Juicy, delicious, and supremely refreshing on a hot summer day, what do they offer to our overall health?
The Cucurbitaceae botanical family includes cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, pumpkin, cucumbers, zucchini and other squashes, gourds and melons like muskmelon, Galia melon, Crenshaw melon, and more. Let’s take a closer look at two more commonly found in local grocery stores: cantaloupe and honeydew.
Cantaloupe isn’t a big nutritional rock star, but it definitely fits the bill for a sweet and refreshing treat that won’t wreck blood sugar and insulin levels. Cantaloupe also has appreciable amounts of vitamin C and potassium, and it’s high in the same carotenes that give carrots and sweet potatoes their bright orange color.
Honeydew has less carotene than cantaloupe, but it’s another great source of potassium and vitamin C. It’s slightly higher in sugar, however, there is an interesting difference in the composition of the sugars in these two melons.
- Cantaloupe contains about 55% sucrose, 19% glucose and 24% fructose.
- Honeydew is a bit lower in sucrose and higher in the monosaccharides: it’s about 30% sucrose, with 33% glucose and 36% fructose.
Overall, considering their low total carbohydrate content, both fruits are relatively low in fructose, and the small amounts of fructose we get from fruit in our diets isn’t reason for alarm. Excess fructose consumption is a problem for some people, but with the exception of those who drink large amounts of juice, the worrisome fructose overload in the modern diet comes mostly from sugar-sweetened beverages and processed foods rich in artificial sugar — not from a wedge of fresh melon.
Cantaloupe and honeydew are both delicious consumed all by themselves, or you can make your guests feel special by wrapping cantaloupe wedges in thin slices of salty, fatty prosciutto. Add some figs and goat cheese for a stunning and satisfying salad that checks all the boxes: sweet, savory, salty, acidic, fatty.
Speaking of fat, since the carotenes in cantaloupe are better absorbed when consumed along with a bit of fat, this salad that pairs cantaloupe with avocado and an olive oil-based dressing is a good strategy.
Melon salsa with cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon is as pretty as it is refreshing — a sure winner for late summer BBQs.
For something on the savory side, this unique cantaloupe gazpacho with shallots, garlic and basil is certainly outside the ordinary, or try curried pork chops with a cooling side of honeydew and cucumber.