It's a strange word for a fruit: cantaloupe, but it makes more sense when we consider that cantaloupe was first cultivated in the Italian village Cantalupo, around AD 1200. |
This brightly colored fruit belongs to the same family as the cucumber, squash, pumpkin, and gourd It is filled with strong compounds that can help protect your sight, control your blood pressure. lower your cholesterol level, keep your blood running smoothly, and protect you against cancer.
“Cantaloupe is one of the few fruits or vegetables which are rich both in vitamin C and beta-carotene,” says John Erdman, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois in Urbana. Both of these antioxidant compounds have been shown to protect against cancer, heart disease and other age-related health problems, such as cataracts.
Cantaloupes are loaded with carotenoids, the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their bright colors and offer powerful health protection. According to a study in the Netherlands, eating carotenoid-rich fruits was linked to a 35% lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries.
Cantaloupe also protect you for another aspect of sight problems: catarcats. A study found that women who got the most vitamin A through their diet had a 39% reduced risk of developing cataracts. Once beta-carotene is inside the body, it is converted to vitamin A. Another study found that people whose diets included the most vitamin A, had halve the risk of cataract surgery.
Cantaloupe is a rich source of two potent antioxidants: vitamin C and beta-carotene. As I wrote before, antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals, which can cause cellular changes that can lead to heart disease, cancer and cataracts.
Like potassium, vitamin C helps to keep the arteries clear and blood moving smoothly by preventing bad LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and clogging the artery walls. Vitamin C is also used by our body to produce collagen, a protein that makes up skin and connective tissue.
Cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene. One cup contains 68 mg vitamin C, which is 113% of the Daily Value for this vitamin. Half a cantaloupe provides 5 mg beta-carotene, which is about half of the daily amount recommended by most experts.
Important Tips Cut cantaloupe under water to keep it fresher longer. Scientists from the USDA found that slicing cantaloupe under water short-circuits the signals plant cells send to each other when they detect an injury, like being sliced.
Buy them ripe. The riper the cantaloupe, the more beta-carotene it contains. The challenge is that melons are often picked while they are still unripe so that they can make it through the shipping process undamaged. To check for ripeness, tap the melon and listen for a hollow sound. Then lift the fruit to make sure that it's heavy for its size. Finally, smell the fruit to make sure that it exudes a sweet, musky parfume. (The smell shouldn't be too strong; an excessively strong smell indicates an overripe fruit.) If there is no smell, put it down and try another one.
Check the stem. There shouldn't be one. Mature cantaloupes will only have a smooth, symmetrical basin where the stem once was and flesh that yields slightly to pressure.
Set it out. Leave a firm cantaloupe at room temperature for several days to allow it to become softer and juicier. Once's it's ripe, put it in the fridge.
Eat it quickly. Vitamin C degrades quickly when exposed to air, so it's important to eat cantaloupe fairly soon after cutting, says Dr. Erdman. This is in particularly necessary when the fruit is cut into small pieces, which significantly increases the amount of air to which it's exposed. Research found that cantaloupe cubes lost 25% of their vitamin C content and 10-15% of their carotenoids after being exposed to air for 6 days.
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beta-ccarotene, carotenoids, cataracts, antioxidants, vitamin C, LDL cholesterol,