Cantaloupes (Cucumis melo) are medium-sized melons belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family. Measuring approximately around 5 to 7 inches, they are usually round or oblong in shape and can weigh up to 5 kg. They are also called muskmelons because of the musky smell which emanates from them when they ripen. They are fleshy and orange from within and have a rough outer covering. Owing to the rock-like nature of their netted skin, they are called rock melons in Australia and New Zealand.

Cantaloupes can be grown in areas with sandy, well-drained soil. Good irrigation facility is a must for their growth. As the crop is largely dependent on pollination, bees play a vital role in ensuring an abundant harvest.

Nutritional Facts

Cantaloupes are very low in calories and fats, and very rich in vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy body. They can help us meet the daily requirement of vitamin A and vitamin C, and also provide other valuable minerals, such as potassium and folic acid.

Nutrients per 1 cup of raw cantaloupe ...
  • Calories: 56
  • Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrate: 13g
  • Protein: 1.0g
  • Fiber: 1.0g
  • Sodium: 14mg
  • Potassium: 494mg
  • Vitamin A: 515 RE or 5158 IU
  • Water: 144g
Health Benefits

Cantaloupes are rich in antioxidants flavonoids, such as zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin, which protect our body from various cancers. B-complex vitamins present in this fruit are also helpful. While vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, manganese acts as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.

These melons are also rich in potassium, which provides protection against coronary heart diseases by keeping a check on the heart rate and blood pressure. They also help in keeping a check on the quantity of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol, and raise the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as good cholesterol. Their potassium content also helps in preventing muscle cramps and helps the body make speedy recovery from injury.

Cantaloupes are rich in vitamin A, which helps in maintaining a healthy skin. Vitamin A also reduces the risk of cataract and helps in improving our eyesight. It also protects us against lung cancer and oral cavity cancer. These melons are considered a beneficial component in the diet of a pregnant woman. They relieve water retention by helping the body excrete excess sodium. The folic acid present in them helps in preventing neural tube defects in small children.

Some Interesting Facts

Cantaloupe derives its name from 'Comune di Cantalupo in Sabina' in the Sabine Hills in Italy, which is also the summer residence of the Pope. Its origin can be traced back to Africa and Asia. The fruit was initially cultivated by the Egyptians and Romans. In Europe, it was cultivated for the first time with seeds that were brought from Armenia. It was introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1494.

After knowing all the benefits of this fruit, one can be sure that a healthy helping of cantaloupe in your daily diet will not be a bad idea.