Superfood: Cantaloupe

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While cantaloupe’s rough, scaly skin isn’t exactly pretty on the outside, it’s the inside that counts with these melons. These super fruits (also known as muskmelons) are members of the gourd family and are known for their beauty-boosting benefits, including clearing up acne and helping prevent wrinkles. The fruit’s soft, juicy pulp and sweet flavor also make it the perfect substitute for high-calorie sugary snacks and desserts. One cup (diced) has just 50 calories! And since cantaloupe is 89 percent water, it’s also the perfect fruit to help with hydration during those hot and sticky summer months (when it can be easy to become dehydrated).

The Beauty Fruit — Why They’re Super

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 clear skin by thinning the outer layer of dead skin cells that can clog pores and cause blemishes [1] [2]. (Fun fact: No other fruit supplies more beta-carotene than cantaloupe!) Studies also show vitamin A may help protect skin against damaging UV rays and ozone [3]. Cantaloupe may even help prevent wrinkles, since studies suggest low doses of beta-carotene can improve elasticity and premature aging of the skin [4]. Vitamin C, on the other hand, can help with a number of (c-word) things: cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, and the common cold! And bananas don’t got nothin’ on cantaloupe — one cup of this melon contains as much potassium as one medium banana (around 12 percent of the daily recommended value).

Crazy for Cantaloupe — 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 this melon’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. For a more refreshing treat, keep melon in the fridge (or even better, the freezer!), but they can also be kept at room temperature for a fuller flavor. 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 [5]. (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. Now that’s a beauty fruit!

Our Favorite Cantaloupe Recipes from Around the Web

Breakfast: Summer Breakfast Fruit Salad via Yummly Post-Workout
Snack: Gingered Cantaloupe Smoothie via Prevention
Lunch: Chicken and Cantaloupe Strawberry Salad via Food Consumer
Happy Hour: Cantaloupe-Lime Frozen Margarita via Self Magazine
Dinner: Flank Steak with Melon Relish via Epicurious

 

Superfood Recipe: Cantaloupe Pops

Photo by Caitlin Covington

 

What You’ll Need:

3 cups cantaloupe, diced
1 lime

What To Do:

  1. Combine the juice from one lime and  cantaloupe in a blender.
  2. Blend for thirty seconds, or until mixture is pureed and smooth.
  3. 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.
  4. Enjoy on a hot day! 

(Makes 4 pops)

Works Cited

  1. Does the plasma level of vitamins A and E affect acne condition? El-Akawi, Z., Abdel-Latif, N., Abdul-Razzak, K. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Jordan University of Science and Technology, School of Medicine, Irbid, Jordan. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 2006 May;31(3):430-4.
  2. Vitamin a: history, current uses, and controversies. Chapman, M.S. Section of Dermatology, Department of Surgery, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, 2012 Mar;31(1)11-6.  
  3. Beta-carotene prevents ozone-induced proinflammatory markers in murine skin. Valacchi, G., Pecorelli, A., Mencarelli, M., et al. Departmnet of Biomedical Sciences, University of Siena, via Aldo Moro, Siena, Italy. Toxicology and Industrial Health, 2009 May-Jun;25(4-5):241-7.
  4. Differential effects of low-dose and high-dose beta-carotene supplementation on the signs of photoaging and type 1 procollagen gene expression in human skin in vivo. Cho, S., Lee, D.H., Won, C.H., et al. Department of Dermatology, Seoul National University Boramae Hospital, Seoul, Korea. Dermatology, 2010;221(2):160-71.
  5. Synergistic effect of zinc and vitamin A on the biochemical indexes of vitamin A nutrition in children. Rahman, M.M., Wahed, M.A., Fuchs, G.J, et al. International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Dhaka, Bangladesh. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2002 Jan;75(1):92-8.

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