When I think of beautiful, young looking skin, the first food I think of is cantaloupe. It has been said that a diet high in bright orange fruits and veggies is better than the fountain of youth and I'd have to agree! Cantaloupe is nutrient dense, which means it is packed with minerals and vitamins such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and folate. Despite being chock-full of goodness, it is also low in calories. A one-cup serving only contains 60 calories. Similarly to most fruits, it is also free of fats and cholesterol, and is also low in sodium.
Let's take a deeper look at what this delicious melon and its nutrients can do for us...
Beta-carotene is what makes cantaloupe orange. In the body, it is converted into vitamin A, which fights infection and aids vision, skin quality, physical development and reproduction. It also boosts immunity and limits cell damage that can lead to chronic illness.
The beta-carotene in a one-cup serving of cantaloupe converts to 120 percent of the vitamin A that you need daily. Although large doses of vitamin A can be toxic in supplement form, you don't need to worry about getting too much from cantaloupe, because the body converts only as much beta-carotene to vitamin A as needed. How handy!
Back to the one-cup serving of cantaloupe: It contains 108 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin C, which is necessary for far more than fending off the common cold. Like beta-carotene, Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It also helps form the protein that your body uses to build blood vessels, skin, ligaments and tendons. Another of its important tasks is cell repair, such as during wound healing. It is also essential for building and maintaining collagen which helping to keep your skin and hair vital and healthy.
Potassium and Magnesium
Cantaloupe is also a good source of the minerals potassium and magnesium, which affect muscle and nerve function. They also help to balance sodium and fluids in the body. A cup of cantaloupe contains about 14 percent of the potassium and 5 percent of the magnesium you need daily to avoid problems such as muscle cramps.
Let's return to that one-cup serving of cantaloupe one more time. It holds about a tenth of the folate that an average person needs daily. Folate is that naturally-found form of B9. Vitamin B-9 helps to create amino acids and the genetic building block DNA. Pregnant women need increased amounts of cantaloupe and other folate-rich foods to ward off birth defects.
Research is continuously emphasizing the benefits of eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. For the puzzling ailment of irritable bowel syndrome, cantaloupe shines as a food that is low in the short-chain carbohydrates that often aggravate IBS. Since it is also high in fiber and water, it can get things moving on the back end. Many of us know that digestive problems can make your intestinal system feel like it is riding a rodeo. A serving of cantaloupe may just be the steady eddie to step in and help wrangle the devil of indigestion.
Cantaloupe always has its place in my fruit salads during outdoor barbeques and picnics. It's moisture and electrolyte content makes it an incredibly refreshing food to enjoy on a hot summer day. Not to mention it's versatile sweet flavor! If you have an extra special gathering, try pairing it with prosciutto and arugula for a delicious delicacy. You can find the recipe here.
What's your favorite way to eat this fruit?