It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of my Seasonal Selections posts, because I wasn’t sure if people liked them or not. I’ve decided, though, that I liked looking up the information and putting it together, so hopefully a few readers find it interesting/useful as well. Plus, as we head into summer, we’ve been getting different types of produce in the CSA, so I thought it was a good time to take a look at some gorgeous summer produce! If you’re a newer reader, first WELCOME to Healthy Twists, and second, let me know what you think of this feature!
I’ve talked before about why cantaloupe has special meaning for me. It never fails to remind me of my grandma and the way she used to take care of us long before the Alzheimer’s took over her body and mind. Now others have to take care of her. The memories of the way she used to be keeps me going as I watch the difficult time she’s having during her last years here.
Ok…no tearing up…moving on and fast…
Flavor-wise, I feel the same way about cantaloupe that I do about oranges, watermelon, and tomatoes. When they are good, they are AMAZING, and when they’re not, they can be so tasteless and boring. I find that many times, the cantaloupe in a prepared fruit salad or on a buffet spread usually falls into the latter category, but the cantaloupe we’ve been getting has been amazing. So much so I stopped cutting it into chunks and instead left it into slices for some fruit portion control!
General Cantaloupe/Melon Information
Source: Whole Foods
Melons will not ripen further once they have been picked from the vine. The best way to judge ripeness is simply to press on the end opposite the stem. If the melon is ripe, it will yield noticeably to the pressure of your finger. Choose melons that are heavy for their size and free of bruises or other damage.
Summer melons (cantaloupe, muskmelons) are normally more fragrant than winter melons, but fragrance alone is not a reliable indicator of ripeness or quality. Peak season is late spring to early summer depending on variety, though imported melons can be found anytime during the year.
Most ripe melons can be refrigerated for up to two or three days. Once cut, melons should be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated for no more than four days. Pre-cut melon should be eaten within three days.
Since it is possible for the rough skins of melons to harbor bacteria responsible for food poisoning (picked up from the soil or through handling) clean them thoroughly prior to slicing and eating.
One cup of cantaloupe is just 56 calories, but provides 103.2% of the daily value for vitamin A. Both vitamin A and beta-carotene are important vision nutrients. Once inside the body, beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A, so when you eat cantaloupe it’s like getting both these beneficial nutrients at once.
Cantaloupe is also excellent source of vitamin C. While beta-carotene and vitamin A are fat-soluble antioxidants, vitamin C functions as an antioxidant in the water-soluble areas of the body. So, between its beta-carotene and vitamin C content, cantaloupe has all areas covered against damage from oxygen free radicals. In addition to its antioxidant activity, vitamin C is critical for good immune function. One cup of cantaloupe contains 112.5% of the daily value for this well-known antioxidant.
In our food ranking system, cantaloupe also qualified as a very good source of potassium and a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, folate, and niacin (vitamin B3). The combination of all these B complex vitamins along with the fiber found in cantaloupe make it an exceptionally good fruit for supporting energy production through good carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar stability.
These B complex vitamins are required in our cells for processing carbohydrates (including sugars), and cantaloupe’s fiber helps ensure cantaloupe’s sugars are delivered into the bloodstream gradually, keeping blood sugar on an even keel.
Cantaloupe Recipes to Try