While cantaloupe’s rough skin isn’t exactly pretty, it’s the inside that counts with these melons. The fruit (also known as muskmelon) is part of the gourd family and is known for being super-hydrating and sweet.
The fruit's soft, juicy pulp and sweet flavor also make it the perfect substitute for high-calorie sugary snacks and desserts. One cup has just 60 calories! And since cantaloupe is 90 percent water, it’s also the perfect fruit to help with hydration during those hot and sticky summer months.
One cup of cantaloupe delivers 100 percent of the daily recommended values of vitamins A and C, which is precisely why this melon qualifies as a "beauty fruit." The orange flesh is packed with beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body and helps promote healthy skin by thinning the outer layer of dead skin cells that can clog pores and cause blemishes. Does the plasma level of vitamins A and E affect acne condition? El-Akawi Z, Abdel-Latif N, Abdul-Razzak K. Clinical and experimental dermatology, 2006, Sep.;31(3):0307-6938. Vitamin a: history, current uses, and controversies. Chapman MS. Seminars in cutaneous medicine and surgery, 2013, Mar.;31(1):1558-0768. Studies also show vitamin A may help protect skin against damaging UV rays and ozone. Beta-carotene prevents ozone-induced proinflammatory markers in murine skin. Valacchi G, Pecorelli A, Mencarelli M. Toxicology and industrial health, 2009, Oct.;25(4-5):0748-2337. Cantaloupe may even help prevent wrinkles, since studies suggest low doses of beta-carotene can improve elasticity and premature aging of the skin. Differential effects of low-dose and high-dose beta-carotene supplementation on the signs of photoaging and type I procollagen gene expression in human skin in vivo. Cho S, Lee DH, Won CH. Dermatology (Basel, Switzerland), 2010, Jun.;221(2):1421-9832.
Vitamin C, on the other hand, can help with a number of things: cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, and the common cold! And bananas don't have anything on cantaloupe—one cup of this melon contains as much potassium as one medium banana (around 12 percent of the daily recommended value).
Your Action Plan
A cup of cantaloupe (one serving) is approximately one quarter of a medium melon (about 5 inches in diameter). Most grocery stores carry them year-round, but it's at its best in June, July, and August.
Ripe cantaloupes should have a prominent golden brown netting on the rind that stands out from the underlying smooth skin, and should have a mildly sweet fragrance. The top end should have a smooth indentation with no bits of stem, indicating that it was ripe when picked and separated from the vine cleanly, while the other end should give when pressed.
You can keep them at room temperature, but for a more refreshing treat, keep melon in the fridge (or even better, the freezer!). Be sure to eat it as soon as it’s ripe, since cantaloupes continue to ripen off the vine. Make sure to get all those beauty-boosting vitamins and enjoy cantaloupe with foods high in zinc, which helps the body utilize 100 percent of the vitamin A. Synergistic effect of zinc and vitamin A on the biochemical indexes of vitamin A nutrition in children. Rahman MM, Wahed MA, Fuchs GJ. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2002, Jan.;75(1):0002-9165. (Tip: Try dipping cantaloupe slices in yogurt, which is naturally high in zinc!)
And cantaloupe isn’t just for eating—it doubles as the perfect hair conditioner during the summer months. Use a fork to mash half a cup of cantaloupe, then massage into hair and leave for ten minutes after shampooing.
Recipe: Cantaloupe Pops
Makes 4 pops
- 3 cups cantaloupe, diced
- 1 lime
- Combine the juice from one lime and cantaloupe in a blender.
- Blend for thirty seconds, or until mixture is pureed and smooth.
- Pour into four popsicle molds and freeze for at least eight hours. (Pro tip: Don't have a popsicle mold on hand? Pour into Dixie cups, freeze for four hours, insert popsicle sticks into the center of each pop, and freeze for at least 4 more hours.
- Enjoy on a hot day!
Originally published July 2012. Updated March 2016.