Like watermelon, cantaloupe is a fruit that’s often associated with warm weather, either because its high water content makes it extra refreshing when the temps soar, or because that’s when it’s in season. While this juicy orange melon is a staple in fruit salads, it’s also generally pretty easy to find year-round, and there are plenty of reasons to enjoy it that have nothing to do with hydration.
“Cantaloupe is rich in antioxidants, which contribute to its inherent health benefits,” says Kristin Gillespie, RD, who is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. One cup of cantaloupe contains more than half the vitamin C you need in a day, and more than the amount of vitamin A, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Like other orange-hued produce, cantaloupe is also a source of carotenoids, compounds that have been linked to age-related eye health, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). And, as Mayo Clinic points out, because cantaloupe is water-rich and contains potassium, this fruit can also play a role in helping maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Read on to discover all you need to know about this delicious and nutritious melon.
What Is Cantaloupe?
Cantaloupe (Cantalupensis) is a member of the gourd family. According to Britannica, cantaloupes grew in popularity in Europe, where they got their name from the Italian town of Cantalupo. Regardless of type, cantaloupe are known for their sweet scent and taste, along with a rich orange color, and a textured, tan rind.
Minneopa Orchards explains that, while cantaloupe's exact indigenous roots aren’t known, it may be traced back to ancient Egypt and Rome. It’s also thought that Christopher Columbus introduced the fruit to North America.
Common Questions & Answers
Types of Cantaloupe
Cantaloupes grown in North America are actually muskmelons, with most of the “true” cantaloupe varieties found in Europe. According to Almanac, types of North American cantaloupes include:
- Ambrosia This is considered the sweetest variety.
- Athena Produces some of the largest cantaloupe, at an average of 5 to 6 pounds (lb) each
- Bush Star These tend to work best in the small spaces of home gardens.
- Hale’s Best Jumbo Despite the name, these peak at about 3 lb apiece and are also highly aromatic
- Minnesota Midget True to its name, this variety produces some of the smallest cantaloupes, at 1 lb each, and can be grown in colder climates.
- Calories: 38
- Protein: 0.82 g
- Fat: 0.18 g
- Carbohydrates: 8.69 g
- Fiber: 0.8 g
- Sugars: 7.88 g
- Calcium: 9 milligrams (mg)
- Iron: 0.38 mg
- Potassium: 157 mg
- Sodium: 30 mg