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Eating Well With Whole Foods: Cantaloupe

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

The cantaloupe is the most popular melon in the United States today. It derives its name from the Italian papal village of Cantalup, where it was first cultivated around 1700 A.D. While its exact origination is unknown, the delicious, fleshy orange melon has been enjoyed since ancient Greek and Roman times. The cantaloupe belongs to the same family as the cucumber, squash, pumpkin and gourd, and like many of its relatives, it grows on the ground on a trailing vine. It is also referred to as netted melon, due to its distinctive "netted" skin, as well as "rockmelon" in several regions of the world. Today, the leading growers of cantaloupe include the United States, Turkey, Iran and many Central American countries.

Cantaloupe is an excellent source of Vitamins A and C as well as a terrific source of Vitamins B6, B3, potassium, folate, and dietary fiber. Vitamin A has been shown to help promote vision and lung health. Studies show that a Vitamin A rich diet, like those that include cantaloupe, helps decrease the risks of cataracts in women and may help prevent emphysema and cancer in smokers. Just one cup of cantaloupe – and at only 56 calories a cup – provides over 100% of the daily-recommended allowance for Vitamin A! Additionally, its rich Vitamin C content – one cup contains over 110% of this antioxidant – helps promote damage from free radicals, builds the immune system, and lowers the chances for cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Furthermore, the unique combination of nutrients in cantaloupe helps support energy production by balancing blood sugar level.

When selecting cantaloupe be sure to test it for ripeness. First, tap the fruit with the palm of your hand. You should hear a hollow sound. Next, choose a melon that appears heavy for its size. Avoid ones with bruises or soft spots. Finally, you should be able to smell the fruit’s sweet aroma through the melon. Steer clear of an overly pungent odor, which may signify the cantaloupe is overripe. If you discover that the cantaloupe is not fully ripened leave it at room temperature (uncut) for several days in order to reap the most antioxidants. Then, place it in the refrigerator. When preparing to eat cantaloupe, remember to wash its outside before cutting into it to prevent any bacteria that may have stored up on its surface. Then, cut it under water, which has been shown to help retain its freshness for a longer period of time. Sliced cantaloupe will store in the refrigerator for up to 9 days without significantly losing its nutritional content. Enjoy it as is, toss it with some of your other favorite fruits like watermelon, blueberries, and kiwi, or serve it as a refreshing side dish to your favorite meal.

Cantaloupe Salad Boat


½ cantaloupe

1-cup fresh blueberries, strawberries,

and raspberries

Scoop of cottage cheese

Tablespoon of almonds or walnuts

Scoop out ½ a cantaloupe and fill with berries (or your favorite fruit), cottage cheese, and nuts. Dig in and enjoy!

Suzann Pileggi Pawelski is a freelance wellness writer who specializes in the science of happiness and how it affects our health. She is also a certified health coach who works with clients on nourishing their bodies and souls by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. Suzann holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) from the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com,  or email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com  for a discounted phone consultation.

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