Hello, and welcome Super Foodies to the day where we celebrate the delicious, and the nutritious simultaneously. In order to qualify as a Super Food, both criteria must be met, and today’s selection from the garden of eternal health will meet the necessary requirements extremely easily. That is because cantaloupe is being served at the Super Food buffet today, and this sweet and refreshing fruit is now in season, and that means it’s as good a time as any to indulge.
The cantaloupe is a uniquely flavored member of the very large cucurbitaceae family. Some of the member of this group include squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and gourds. Muskmelon as it is also known, grows on a the ground surface as a trailing vine, just like its relatives. The cantaloupe is believed to have originated in either India, ancient Persia, or Africa.
Different varieties of muskmelon are grown all over the world. Two varieties that are named after their place of origin have become very popular in the western world. The European cantaloupe gets its name from the Italian papal village of Cantaloupe, and features lightly ribbed, pale green skin. The North American cantaloupe, popular in both Canada and the United States, is named reticulatus due to its net like, or reticulated skin.
The cantaloupe generally features a round, or oblong shape. The internal flesh ranges from orange-yellow, to salmon color. It has a soft, juicy consistency with a sweet, musky aroma that emanates from the fruit when ripe. At the center there is a hollow cavity filled with small of-white seeds that are encased in a web of mucilaginous netting.
While sweet and delicious, the muskmelon is surprisingly low in calories. 100 grams has just 34 calories. Like most fruits and vegetables, the fat content is negligible. There are several health benefits, and I think it’s time to get into those now.
One of the nutrients that makes itself known immediately is Vitamin-A. 100 grams provides 112 percent of our RDA. That is one of the highest concentrations of Vitamin-A among all fruits. Vitamin-A is a powerful anti-oxidant that is essential for vision. It is also required to maintain healthy mucus membranes, as well as skin. A diet high in Vitamin-A rich foods has been proven help protect against certain cancers, such as lung and oral cavity cancers.
Cantaloupe is also rich in anti-oxidant flavonoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthan, and cryptoxanthin. I have covered zeaxanthan’s protective properties against age related macular degeneration from this nutrient that is absorbed in the retinal macula lutea in the eye, in articles such as Super Food: Spinach. Getting back to that list of anti-oxidants, they have the ability to help assist our cells and other structures within our body by protecting them against oxygen derived free radicals. This means that eating cantaloupe offers the protective properties of these nutrients from such diseases as colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers. That is obviously a very big plus in the favor of the anti-oxidant abundant cantaloupe.
There are somewhat surprisingly several minerals present in the cantaloupe. Potassium is the one that would be expected, and cantaloupe is considered a good source of it. Potassium is a very important component of every one of our body’s cells, as well as body fluids. It helps to control heart rate and blood pressure as well. By doing so it offers protection against stroke and coronary disease.
Manganese is another mineral that is present in decent amounts. This mineral is used by our body as a co-factor for the anti-oxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Muskmelon is even being used to extract an enzyme known commercially as superoxide dismutase (SOD), which will likely be marketed as an essential nutrient for maintaining strong anti-oxidant defences in the human body.
There are a few different vitamins as well. Cantaloupe is considered a good source of many B-vitamins. Niacin, and pantothenic acid are the two that are most plentiful, and there are lower amounts of the others. Vitamin-C is also in good supply. Vitamin-C is a water-soluble vitamin that has anti-oxidant properties. It helps our body develop resistance against infectious agents, and aids in scavenging harmful oxygen free radicals. Much like vitamin-A, this reduces the risk of many diseases.
If the health benefits aren’t enough, the versatility of the melon in cooking is another bonus. That of course will be brought to you courtesy of [twitter-follow screen_name=’MrsToronto1′] later in the week. I have tasted several of these offerings, and can vouch for their contribution to good health, muscle feeding, and keeping within the boundaries of fat loss.
Before that is the second weekly edition of Muscle Talk. If you missed Muscle Talk: Biceps and Triceps, then take the time now to familiarize yourself with the names and functions of the muscles of the upper arm, so when training them is discussed tomorrow, you will have done your homework. I look forward to seeing you here my friends. As always,
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