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What Is Muskmelon, Exactly? Plus, 7 Health Benefits

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Muskmelon - Dr. Axe

Muskmelon is a flavorful and refreshing ingredient that fits seamlessly into summer salads and smoothies alike.

Besides bringing a splash of color and flavor to the table, this popular type of melon is also rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, all of which boast a number of important health benefits. It’s also versatile, delicious and easy to include in a variety of different recipes.

So what is a muskmelon? And what exactly sets it apart from other types of melon, such as cantaloupe? Keep reading for everything you need to know, plus some simple yet delicious ways to incorporate it into your daily diet.

What Is Muskmelon?

Muskmelon, also known by its scientific name, Cucumis melo, is a type of melon fruit that belongs to the same family as pumpkins, squash, zucchini and cucumbers.

Muskmelon has been cultivated for thousands of years, dating all the way back to Ancient Egypt. Although there’s controversy over where the melon actually originated, scientists believe it may be native to Central Asia, India, Persia, Egypt or Africa.

Over time, the muskmelon plant has been grown and developed into several distinct varieties, including cantaloupe and honeydew, each of which has unique variations in taste and appearance.

In addition to its sweet flavor and vibrant flesh, muskmelon also supplies a hearty dose of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium in each and every serving.

Muskmelon vs. Cantaloupe (Similarities and Differences)

There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between muskmelon vs. cantaloupe and what sets these two types of melons apart.

For starters, it’s important to understand there are several different varieties of muskemlon available, including cantaloupe (also known as rock melon), honeydew, crenshaw melon and Persian melon.

All of these types of melon are considered varieties of muskmelon and have a few minor differences in terms of appearance and flavor.

The North American cantaloupe, for instance, has netted skin and a more mild flavor. Conversely, the European cantaloupe is a muskmelon cultivar that boasts a bright green hue and slightly sweeter taste.

Therefore, the main distinction between muskmelon vs. cantaloupe is that all types of cantaloupe are categorized as a type of muskmelon. However, not all types of muskmelon are considered cantaloupe.

Nutrition Facts

The muskmelon nutrition profile is pretty impressive, packing in a good amount of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium for a low amount of muskmelon calories in each serving.

One cup of muskmelon contains the following nutrients:

  • 60 calories
  • 15.6 grams carbohydrate
  • 1.5 grams protein
  • 0.3 grams fat
  • 1.6 grams dietary fiber
  • 5,987 IUs vitamin A (120 percent DV)
  • 65 milligrams vitamin C (108 percent DV)
  • 473 milligrams potassium (14 percent DV)
  • 37.2 micrograms folate (9 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams vitamin B6 (6 percent DV)
  • 1.3 milligrams niacin (6 percent DV)
  • 4.4 micrograms vitamin K (6 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams thiamine (5 percent DV)
  • 21.2 milligrams magnesium (5 percent DV)

In addition to the nutrients listed above, the muskmelon/cantaloupe nutrition profile also contains a small amount of copper, manganese and phosphorus.

Top 7 Benefits

1. Boosts Immune Function

Muskmelon is loaded with vitamin A and vitamin C, both of which play an integral role in immune function.

According to one study out of Switzerland, getting enough vitamin C in your diet could help relieve symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory conditions like the common cold.

Vitamin A, on the other hand, can enhance immune function and is closely involved with regulating cellular immune responses and aiding in the treatment of infections.

2. Promotes Healthy Vision

A single serving of muskmelon can knock out the entire recommended daily allowance for vitamin A, an important micronutrient necessary for supporting healthy vision.

Vitamin A helps ensure tissues such as the conjunctiva, which is the thin membrane that covers the surface of the eye, are able to produce mucous effectively to protect against infection and disease.

A deficiency in this important vitamin can cause a long list of side effects, including vision problems such as dry eyes and night blindness.

3. Supports Weight Loss

Low in calories but high in fiber, adding muskmelon to your diet could potentially help promote and sustain long-lasting weight loss.

Fiber moves slowly through the body undigested, which can support satiety and increase feelings of fullness.

Interestingly, one study published in Journal of Nutrition followed 252 women over the course of 20 months and found each gram of fiber consumed daily was linked to 0.5 pounds of weight loss and 0.25 percent less body fat over time.

4. Enhances Regularity

Thanks to its fiber content, muskmelon can help promote regularity and digestive health.

Fiber helps add bulk to the stool to keep things moving and prevent constipation. According to a 2012 meta-analysis out of  China, increasing your fiber intake can be an effective strategy to help improve stool frequency in those with constipation.

Adding more fiber to your diet can also protect against several other digestive disorders as well. In particular, fiber may help prevent digestive conditions such as diverticulitis, stomach ulcers, hemorrhoids and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

5. Rich in Antioxidants

Muskmelon is a great source of antioxidants, which are powerful compounds that can help prevent oxidative damage to the cells by neutralizing harmful free radicals.

A 2016 in vitro study conducted by the University of Malakand in Pakistan analyzed the antioxidant content of muskmelon seeds and found they were high in several beneficial compounds, including gallic acid, hydroxybenzoic acid, catechin derivatives and caffeic acid.

In addition to preventing free radical damage, some research also suggests the antioxidants found in foods like muskmelon could protect against inflammation and chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

6. Improves Heart Health

With 14 percent of the daily recommended value for potassium packed into every cup, muskmelon may be able to help support better heart health.

Some research suggests eating more potassium could decrease blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attacks.

Not only that, studies also show increasing your intake of fiber from foods like muskmelon could help reduce blood pressure levels and may be tied to a lower risk of heart disease.

7. Decreases Inflammation

Although acute inflammation is considered an important part of the body’s immune response, sustaining high levels of inflammation long-term may increase the risk of chronic disease.

Studies show muskmelon possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties, which may be due to the presence of antioxidants and polyphenols that help block the build-up of harmful free radicals.

In fact, one animal model out of Paris showed administering cantaloupe extract to mice was effective at decreasing several specific markers used to measure inflammation, which could potentially aid in disease prevention and help promote overall health.

Uses and Recipes

With its sweet and refreshing flavor, muskmelon can be sliced up into cubes or wedges for a simple snack on the go.

It also works well in fruit salads and can be paired with other tasty fruits, such as grapes, pineapple, oranges, berries or kiwi for a power-packed punch of vitamin C and antioxidants. Alternatively, try adding it to salads, smoothies or juices to bump up the flavor and health benefits.

Plus, you can even enjoy the seeds of the melon as part of a healthy diet as well. Simply wash and dry them, toss with a bit of olive oil and salt and then bake in the oven until they’re nice and crispy.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few delicious and nutritious recipes to help get you started:

Risks and Side Effects

Those with a melon allergy should avoid muskmelon to prevent any adverse symptoms and side effects. Some research has found melon allergies may also be linked to latex sensitivity, pollen allergies and allergies to other types of fruit, so be sure to exercise caution if you have any of these other conditions.

Ideally, always try to purchase whole melons and cut them up at home instead of opting for pre-cut varieties to help reduce the risk of salmonella, a type of food poisoning that can cause symptoms like diarrhea, chills and stomach pain. Keeping fruit refrigerated and practicing proper food safety can also help prevent infection.

Final Thoughts

  • Muskmelon is a type of melon that is favored for its sweet flavor and soft, vibrant flesh.
  • There are many different types of muskmelon, including cantaloupe, honeydew and Persian melon. In fact, the main distinction between cantaloupe vs. muskmelon is that all cantaloupe is technically a type of muskmelon, but not all muskmelon is classified as cantaloupe.
  • Muskmelon is low in calories but high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants.
  • Potential muskmelon benefits include increased weight loss, reduced inflammation and enhanced heart health, vision, digestive health and immune function.
  • This flavorful and refreshing type of fruit can be incorporated into salads, smoothies and snacks alike and is a versatile and delicious addition to a well-rounded diet.
Josh Axe

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