Summer is melon season and cantaloupe is one of the most readily available melons in the United States. Sweet, delicious cantaloupes are cheap and a highly nutritious part of any whole food based diet. Great tasting cantaloups will have a little “give” when pressed(but not be soft) and will have a strong sweet musky odor at the stem end(hence the name “musk melon”).
Cantaloupe makes a good breakfast or dessert food all by itself or as part of a mixed fruit salad. The standard serving size is generally listed as one cup, though it is difficult not to eat at least twice that amount. And that is a good thing because these melons are packed with a range of health promoting vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. They are also packed with water, making them a hydrating fruit for those hot summer days and nights.
Most folks don’t know that the seeds of cantaloupe are edible and tasty. The seeds can be removed and dried just like pumpkin or hard(winter) squash seeds. They make a good snack alone and are a nutritious addition to breads and meat and/or vegetable loaves. Cantaloupe seeds can also be sprinkled over salads and oatmeal. The seeds are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, one of the important omega-3 fatty acids.
The fruit of cantaloupes can be an important addition to the overall nutrition of any whole food based diet. It is a source of vitamin A and vitamin A precursors as are most of the yellow and red fruits and vegetables. Cantaloupe supplies the body with a good dose of several B vitamins including folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, copper and magnesium. A serving of cantaloupe also supplies important dietary fiber. This melon also contains flavonoids, phytonutrients and a range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory micro nutrients.
I eat cantaloupe during the summer to increase to variety of fruits and nutrients in my diet. Any whole food based diet should include as much variety as possible to supply a full range of nutrition and should not be overly reliant on any particular foods. Nutrition in our bodies works in a synergistic way that is just beginning to be understood by science and a diverse diet is more sustainable for the long term, tastes better and is healthier.