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Honeydew: 10 Benefits + How to Choose a Ripe Melon

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Honeydew - Dr. Axe

Although it’s often confused with cantaloupe — or just called “melon” so not to make a distinction — honeydew is actually a nutrient-rich, hydrating, low-calorie and deliciously sweet fruit.

It may have a reputation as the tasteless melon, and sometimes when it’s mindlessly added to a fruit salad it may be the only fruit left standing.

But when honeydew melon is picked from the vine once it’s mature and cut open when it’s ripe, the flavor is there. In fact, it’s known to be the sweetest of all melons in the grocery store.

On top of that, it’s packed with health-promoting nutrients, including vitamin C (providing over 40 percent of your daily value), B vitamins, potassium and magnesium — similar to cantaloupe nutrition. It’s a low-calorie food that provides fiber, water and a little sweetness that can help satisfy those afternoon sugar cravings that you’ve been fighting — and that’s not all.

What Is Honeydew Melon?

Honeydew, a creamy, yellowish and oval-shaped fruit, is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes other vine-growing foods like cucumbers, squash, pumpkin and watermelon, and its scientific name is Cucumis melo.

Here are some facts about honeydew melon:

  • It can be described as sweet, luscious and juicy.
  • It has a distinct aroma, especially when it’s ripe, that has fresh and sweet-floral characters.
  • Its peak growing season is in the late summer through early winter, which is later than its cousin cantaloupe.
  • It’s typically about six to nine inches long and generally weighs four to eight pounds.
  • The flesh of a honeydew melon is usually pale green, and the peel ranges in color from a creamy yellow to green.
  • Most of the honeydew melons you see in your local supermarket come from California, where they are in season from August until October.
  • There are two types of honeydew: White honeydew has smooth, white skin and pale green flesh, and yellow honeydew has golden skin and green flesh. The white honeydews are said to be sweeter because they have a higher sugar content.
  • According to the ASPCA, honeydew is non-toxic and safe for dogs, cats and horses to eat.

When it comes to honeydew nutrition, this melon contains carotenoids, including beta-carotene and phytoene, that are responsible for many of the fruit’s health benefits, like its ability to reduce inflammation, inhibit oxidative stress and boost cardiovascular health.

It’s also rich in vitamin C and contains other important nutrients that allow for the proper function of our immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems.

Eating honeydew melon can even help boost cognitive health and prevent mood disorders, like depression.

Nutrition Facts

Honeydew is a low-calorie fruit that’s rich in fiber and vitamin C. It also contains important nutrients like potassium, B vitamins and magnesium.

A one-cup serving (about 177 grams) of honeydew contains about:

  • 63.7 calories
  • 16.1 grams carbohydrates
  • 1 gram protein
  • 0.2 gram fat
  • 1.4 grams fiber
  • 31.9 milligrams vitamin C (53 percent DV)
  • 404 milligrams potassium (12 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram vitamin B6 (8 percent DV)
  • 33.6 micrograms folate (8 percent DV)
  • 5.1 micrograms vitamin K (6 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram thiamine (4 percent DV)
  • 0.7 milligram niacin (4 percent DV)
  • 17.7 milligrams magnesium (4 percent DV)

In addition, this melon provides vitamin A, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

Health Benefits

1. Great Source of Vitamin C

A cup of honeydew contains over 40 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin C. This means that it provides beneficial antioxidants that help reduce the risk of inflammation and disease.

Eating vitamin C foods, like fruits and vegetables, can help improve your immunity, boost the health of your skin, promote your heart health and improve inflammatory conditions.

The vitamin C found in honeydew also plays an important role in a number of metabolic functions, like the activation of folic acid and conversion of cholesterol to bile acids. Research shows that vitamin C benefits serious conditions like diabetes, atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative disease and cancer.

2. Low in Calories and Helps Weight Loss

Not only is honeydew low in calories, containing only 64 in one cup, but it’s the sweetest of all melon varieties. You can fulfill that craving for something sweet by snacking on some honeydew, while still sticking to your daily calorie goals.

High-volume, low-calorie foods like this fruit serve as the perfect snacks or additions to meals when you are trying to lose or maintain weight. Plus, because honeydew offers a range of nutrients, like vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium and B vitamins, you know that you’re staying well-nourished, which can sometimes be an issue when you’re following a low-calorie diet.

3. Boosts Skin Health

The carotenoids and vitamin C found in honeydew make the fruit beneficial for your skin.

Studies indicate that vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis and assists in antioxidant protection against UV-induced skin damage. Vitamin C also plays a role in wound healing, skin elasticity and general skin repair.

Adding honeydew melon and other fruits and vegetables containing high amounts of vitamin C promotes glowing, even-toned and healthy skin.

4. Rich in Fiber

One cup of honeydew contains 1.4 grams of fiber, which we need to help regulate digestion and cholesterol levels.

Why is a high-fiber diet so important? Studies highlight that it passes through your digestive system and, along the way, takes with it wastes, toxins, fat and cholesterol particles.

Eating fiber improves the health of your gut and aids your digestive system, keeping you regular. Honeydew contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which means that it actually makes you feel full longer and adds bulk to your stool, helping ease issues like constipation.

5. Helps You Stay Hydrated

Approximately 90 percent of honeydew is made up of water — so eating a cup or two of this low-calorie fruit not only makes you feel full.

This is because of its fiber content and because you can eat a bigger volume without going over your calorie goals.

In addition to this, honeydew also helps you stay hydrated. That’s exactly why it’s an excellent snack on hot summer days or after a workout.

6. Provides Potassium

A cup of honeydew contains about 9 percent of your daily value of potassium, which is awesome considering that potassium is an essential nutrient for electrolyte balance in the body and helps decrease muscle cramps, reduce your risk of stroke and even alleviate high blood pressure.

Research suggests that eating potassium-rich foods can also help increase bone density and ward off conditions affecting your bones, like osteoporosis.

7. Supports Brain Function

Honeydew provides both vitamin B6 and folate, two B vitamins that are important for brain development and function.

A review published in Nutrients provides evidence that low folate and vitamin B6 levels are associated with poor cognitive function and can increase your risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Plus, these B vitamins help improve your mood. Vitamin B6 benefits mood because it helps make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine — your “happy hormones” that control your mood, ability to concentrate and energy levels.

Research shows that preventing or reversing a folate deficiency can reduce your risk of developing mood disorders like depression.

8. Helps Boost the Immune System

Honeydew is a great source of vitamin C, which contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions against pathogens that can make us sick.

Vitamin C also promotes oxidant scavenging activity in the skin, protecting us against environmental oxidative stress.

When we don’t get enough vitamin C in our diets, it can result in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections, which has been shown in studies. By adding honeydew and other foods rich in vitamin C to your diet, you can naturally boost your immune system.

9. Promotes Heart Health

Studies show that higher carotenoid intake is associated with significant reductions in the risk of cardiovascular disease. The carotenoids found in honeydew are beneficial for protecting our arteries against inflammation, blockages and free radical damage.

Research also displays that carotenoids (like the beta-carotene found in honeydew) may also help lower blood pressure, reduce non-HDL plasma cholesterol levels, prevent atherosclerosis, reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines and improve insulin sensitivity.

10. Has Cancer-Protective Effects

Honeydew melon is a source of carotenoids like beta-carotene that have anti-inflammatory and cancer-protective effects.

Research evaluating the role of carotenoids has found that diets high in the compounds are beneficial for a number of reasons, including preventing UV light damage that can lead to melanoma and reducing oxidative stress, a critical factor of the pathogenic process of many chronic disorders, including cancer.

On top of this, carotenoids found in honeydew have chemoprotective properties, according to research, helping protect healthy tissue from the harmful side effects that are caused by some anticancer drugs.

Honeydew - Dr. Axe

Honeydew vs. Cantaloupe

Honeydew and cantaloupe are both melon fruits that belong to the Cucurbitaceae family. They both provide free radical scavenging antioxidants and a number of health-promoting vitamins and minerals.

Both fruits contain vitamins A, C and K and minerals like potassium, folate, niacin, thiamine and magnesium. But melon to melon, cantaloupe packs a bigger nutritious punch.

A one-cup serving of cantaloupe contains less calories (54 calories in cantaloupe vs. 64 in honeydew), more vitamins A and C, more potassium, more B vitamins, and more magnesium.

That said, both cantaloupe and honeydew boast a range of health benefits, including their ability to boost cardiovascular health, promote healthy skin, boost the immune system, aid digestion and protect cognitive health.

Plus, both melons are on the Environmental Working Group’s list of the “clean 15,” which is a list of the produce that’s least likely to be contaminated by pesticides, as opposed to the “dirty dozen” that are the most likely to be contaminated.

Here’s a difference between the two melons — honeydew and cantaloupe have different peak months, with cantaloupe having a peak season between April through August and honeydew’s season beginning in August and lasting until October.

Although a ripe honeydew is known to have a sweeter taste, honeydew melons are sometimes picked before they have matured, and they won’t mature off the vine, so that leaves them tasting pretty bland. For that reason, people often believe that cantaloupe is the tastier melon.

Recipes

The most common way to consume honeydew is eating it fresh as a sweet and hydrating snack, but there are other ways to incorporate this melon into your meals.

It can be cubed and added to a yogurt parfait, cottage cheese, salad or smoothie.

Honeydew even adds a nice sweetness to salsa and chilled soups, and people commonly pair the fruit with salty meats, like prosciutto.

Try adding honeydew to my Fall Chicken Salad recipe in place of or along with the grapes.

Here are a few more honeydew recipes to try:

If you’re wondering whether or not your honeydew is ripe before cutting it open — look for melons with a pale cream or creamy white rind. If the skin, or rind, of the honeydew has any greenness, it’s not ready yet.

Also, when choosing a honeydew at the store, look for one that feels too heavy for its size. This means that it’s full of juice and mature enough to ripen naturally.

Risks and Side Effects

Honeydew nutrition is pretty impressive, but as is the case with most healthy foods, it best when consumed in moderation. Adding a cup of melon to your plate or incorporating it into a recipe comes with little risks or side effects.

When you consume too much honeydew, you may experience elevated blood sugar levels and even some digestive issues, like diarrhea.

In some cases, a honeydew allergy is possible. If you develop a rash, hives, mouth itching, cramps, troubling breathing, nausea or diarrhea after eating honeydew, avoid it completely and consult your health care professional.

Final Thoughts

  • Honeydew, a creamy, yellowish and oval-shaped fruit, is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes other vine-growing foods like cucumbers, squash, pumpkin and watermelon.
  • It is known to be the sweetest of all melons, and it has a distinct aroma, especially when it’s ripe, that has fresh and sweet-floral characters.
  • This melon contains carotenoids, including beta-carotene and phytoene, and it provides vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, folate, magnesium, thiamine and vitamin K.
  • Benefits of this melon include its ability to help with weight loss, skin health, hydration, brain function, immunity, heart health and even protection against certain cancers.
  • To detect whether or not a melon is ready to eat, look for honeydews that have a pale cream rind, feel too heavy for their size and have a noticeable sweet smell.
Josh Axe

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