Cool, refreshing cantaloupes are a wonderful treat for a warm summer day. And you can eat your fill, knowing that with every delicious bite you’re helping your bones to several Foundation Supplements, including Vitamin C and polyphenols.
Since summer’s just around the corner, now is a perfect time to start enjoying this colorful fruit. Although most supermarkets sell cantaloupes year-round, out of season fruits have to be imported, so you’ll find the best and sweetest local cantaloupes in the summer.
And as is true with all fruits and vegetables, the fresher the cantaloupe, the more nutrients it contains.
C’s the Key to Cantaloupe’s Bone Healthy Goodness
Just one cup of cubed cantaloupe contains almost 68 mg of Vitamin C. That is over 100% of the current Recommended Daily Allowance of 60 mg.
But Vitamin C is such an important vitamin and antioxidant that it is better to err on the high side especially since it is water-soluble and therefore, we don’t store in the body. So as I write in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, I suggest taking a daily supplement of 500 mg. You’ll notice that most multivitamins typically stick to the RDA, so you can take an additional dose… and a couple of servings of cantaloupe is a great way to get even more!
You might think of Vitamin C in terms of its ability to prevent the common cold. But Vitamin C plays an essential role in bone health. This multi-tasking vitamin, also known as ascorbic acid, is crucial for the production of collagen that maintains – among other things – healthy bones and cartilage.
You see, without sufficient Vitamin C, collagen can’t be formed properly.1 Since osteoblasts manufacture and secrete collagen to bind the bone matrix cells together, Vitamin C plays an important role in bone health. And let’s not forget about the well-known and thoroughly documented role of Vitamin C helping the immune system.
Cantaloupe is only one source of Vitamin C and a Foundation Food in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, tangerines, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, watermelon, papaya, guava, kiwi, cantaloupe, cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, sweet bell peppers, and cauliflower are other Vitamin C-rich and mouth-watering choices to help build your bones.
Cantaloupes are also listed in the Program as an excellent source of polyphenols, a class of plant antioxidants that play a confirmed role in increasing bone density by boosting the production of osteoblasts. Amazingly, several thousand types of polyphenols have been identified in plants, but only hundreds in fruits and vegetables.
Other good food sources of polyphenols include apples, blackberries, cherries, grapes, pears, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, celery, onions, and parsley.
Tip: Fully ripened cantaloupes yield the highest level of antioxidants.
Other Important Nutrients
Cantaloupes are also an excellent source of beta-carotene (yet another important antioxidant) and potassium (an alkalizing mineral), as well as Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and folate.
A Cantaloupe by Any Other Name
Did you know that what we refer to as cantaloupe in the U.S. is actually a muskmelon? A “true cantaloupe” is a specific type of melon that’s grown only in Europe and is not generally exported to the U.S. For the purposes of this article, I’m talking about U.S. cantaloupe, or muskmelon.
Speaking of names, if you’re in Australia, you probably know these treats as rockmelons.
Can’t Eat Cantaloupes?
As wonderful as cantaloupes are, they’re just one choice among many in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. So if you’re allergic, or even if you just don’t like them, don’t feel that you have to eat them to succeed on the program. There are many delicious ways to get all of the nutrients your bones need – no single food is required.
Did you know that cut fruits retain most of their nutritional content for six days (and sometimes up to nine days)? A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found this to be the case. Interestingly, fresh cut fruits often appear to be spoiled before there’s been any significant nutrient loss. That means you can enjoy the convenience of cutting up a cantaloupe or adding it to a fruit salad and eating it later that day or the next day.
Here are a few tips to help you find the freshest cantaloupes:
- Your nose knows. Sniff the stem end – a good cantaloupe will have that “cantaloupe” smell.
- No stems. The stem end should be smooth, with a slight indentation. If there’s any roughness or stem remaining, that means the cantaloupe was picked prematurely. And the other end should be slightly soft to the touch.
- Avoid shriveled or overly bruised fruits.
Cleaning and preparing cantaloupes:
- It’s important to wash cantaloupe before cutting them, as bacteria can collect on the surface (this is true of all melons).
- Be sure to refrigerate the cut melon if you’re not going to eat it right away.
- Fill a halved cantaloupe with fresh fruit salad. This can make an elegant appetizer or a casual snack, especially topped with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprig of fresh mint.
- Make a refreshing smoothie by blending cantaloupe, plain yogurt, lemon juice, crushed ice, and a touch of honey. If you have digestive issues, don’t mix dairy with fruits, so use your favorite fruit juice, non-dairy milk substitute (almond milk, for example), or water instead.
And for my favorite summer serving suggestion, try my Cool Cantaloupe Soup.
Cool Cantaloupe Soup
2 cups orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Peel, seed, and cut up cantaloupe.
In blender or food processor, mix cantaloupe pieces with 1/2 cup orange juice. Cover and blend until smooth.
Transfer to large bowl and stir in lime or lemon juice, cinnamon, and remaining orange juice.
Cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
Garnish with mint or your favorite herb.
1 Biochemistry. Lubert Stryer. Third Edition, 1988. W.H Freeman and Co. NY , NY.