Low in calories and rich in properties, melon is a perfect fruit to keep fit during the summer and to counteract fatigue due to excessive heat. Let’s find out the properties of melon together.
Melon is a summer fruit rich in properties. Its scientific name is Cucumis melo and it belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes watermelon. The exact origin of this plant is not clear, but it appears to be either Asian or African.
The largest producers worldwide are Asia and Europe, especially Spain, France and Italy. To grow and mature the melon plant needs a warm climate.
The plant is characterized by a climbing stem while the fruit has an oval or round shape, with a yellow or netted skin and white or orange pulp, which encloses the seeds, characterized by a sweet and juicy flavor but only if it has reached the right degree of ripeness. There are types of summer and other winter melons. So let’s see which are the best known and most popular varieties of melon.
Varieties of melon
We usually think of melon as the fruit that accompanies raw ham in the classic summer preparation, but be careful because it is only a variety of melon, called cantaloupe. However, there are other types of melon, equally tasty, that we invite you to try. Let’s see all the varieties of this fresh fruit together.
✓ Cantaloupe melon
It is the classic summer melon with a light skin characterized by a dense network and meridians of green color and orange pulp. It has a sweet taste, which goes well with raw ham, but which is also perfect for a snack or for a summer breakfast, thanks to its thirst-quenching power.
✓ Netted melon
Sometimes also called “bread melon” or “bread melon” it is a variety of summer melon and it is also very common; its skin is characterized by a dense network of lattices and is light in color. The pulp, with a sweet and thirst-quenching taste, is orange in color, very fragrant.
✓ Smooth melon
It is a less common but very tasty and fragrant variety. It is characterized by an oval shape, small in size and a smooth light gray skin and a very sweet and tasty orange pulp. For its qualities it is considered a valuable type of melon.
✓ Yellow melon or winter melon
Yellow melon is also known as winter melon as it typically ripens between late September and early November. Its skin is yellow and smooth (differently from that of the netted melon); the pulp is very clear, with a sweet and very delicate taste.
✓ Sardinian melon
It is a typical melon of the Campidano area. It has a slightly elongated shape, green skin and very light pulp with green veins. It tastes very sweet and sugary and is very crunchy. It is also called pile de sapo, which means toad skin.
✓ Green melon
It is a typical fruit of France and Algeria and is harvested during the winter season. This fruit has an extremely sugary taste, and can also be used for the preparation of desserts (for example a melon cheesecake). It has a round shape with a light-colored skin, while the pulp inside is green.
✓ Calvenzano melon
It is an ancient variety, typical of Calvenzano, in the province of Bergamo. It is a netted melon (that is, with the typical lattice on the outer skin), with a sweet flavor and which was very common in the nineteenth century.
✓ Carousel melon
It is a widespread variety in Puglia, which is consumed when the fruit is still immature. It is generally used as a vegetable and is similar to cucumber, in fact it is also called “carousel cucumber”. The extreme skin is green and the pulp is white. If it is aged, the peel becomes yellow and the flavor of the fruit sweeter.
✓ Paceo melon
It is an ancient variety of melon, typical of Paceo, a town near Trapani. Paceo melon is a winter melon with a characteristic elongated shape, yellow skin and white and sugary pulp.
✓ Alcamo melon
Another ancient variety typical of the Trapani area. Also in this case it is a winter melon, with green skin and white pulp, with an extremely sweet flavor. This variety of melon, like all ancient varieties, is very rare.
Melon: calories and nutritional values
Melon has few calories, only 34 per 100 grams of edible portion, while a portion considered optimal (equal to 150 grams of melon) provides only 51 Kcal, therefore it is an ally fruit of the diet. It is also rich in water (90%) so it has a high satiating power and has diuretic power, useful for purifying the kidneys. It also prevents dehydration due to excessive sweating in the summer and allows you to replenish lost mineral salts.
Nutritional values per 100g of melon:
- Waterfall: 90.15 gr
- kcal: 34
- Proteins: 0.84 gr
- Fat: 0.19 gr
- Fibers: 0.9 gr
- Carbohydrates: 8.16 gr
- Soccer: 9 mg
- Iron: 0.21 mg
- Magnesium: 12 mg
- Phosphorus: 15 mg
- Potassium: 267 mg
- C vitamin: 36.7 mg (61.2% RDA)
- Vitamin B1: 0.041 mg (2.9% RDA)
- Vitamin B2: 0.019 mg (1.2% RDA)
- Vitamin B3: 0.734 mg (4.1% RDA)
- Vitamin B5: 0.105 mg (1.8% RDA)
- Vitamin B6: 0.072 mg (3.6% RDA)
- Folate: 21 µg (10.5% RDA)
- Vitamin A: 7169 µg (21.1% RDA)
- Beta-carotene: 2020 µg
- Vitamin K: 2.5 µg (3.6% RDA)
- Glycemic index: 75
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Melon: nutritional properties
Melon is a fruit rich in antioxidants, especially beta-carotene, mineral salts, especially potassium, and vitamins. Among these, the most abundant are vitamin C and folate. Let’s take a look at the properties of the elements present in melon.
- Beta-carotene: it is a yellow-orange pigment that gives this color to plants. The melon is rich in this substance which has the property of counteracting the action of free radicals as it has a strong antioxidant activity. It represents the precursor of Vitamin A, in which it is converted by the body, in turn essential for cell growth and differentiation and essential for the correct functioning of vision;
- Potassium: this mineral is involved in various vital processes: acid-base balance, the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contraction. It is able to reduce blood pressure and also regulate heartbeats;
- Niacin: this vitamin has a vasodilating action, lowers bad cholesterol and is part of two coenzymes that are involved in metabolism.
- Vitamin C: melon is rich in vitamin C, a substance that has a strong antioxidant activity, protecting against damage caused by free radicals and therefore aging. It also stimulates the immune system and protects against flu and colds. A vitamin C deficiency leads to recurrent infections, fatigue, muscle aches and loss of appetite.
- Folate: they represent the precursors of folic acid (or vitamin B9), a fundamental vitamin for numerous cellular functions. It regulates growth and reproduction and participates in the synthesis of some amino acids and hemoglobin, the protein responsible for transporting oxygen in tissues. Proper brain function is also essential.
Melon: health benefits
The action carried out by the components present gives the melon beneficial properties for our body. In particular, it is an excellent diuretic, protects the skin and sight and has a good antioxidant action. Let’s see in more detail what are all the benefits of this delicious fruit.
Thanks to the high quantity of beta-carotene present in the melon, this fruit has an excellent antioxidant activity so its consumption is recommended to prevent damage caused by free radicals, therefore cellular aging and oxidative stress.
✓ Reduces blood pressure
The potassium contained in the melon helps to stimulate diuresis and therefore to eliminate excess fluids, consequently reducing blood pressure values.
✓ Protects eyesight
The presence of Vitamin A in melon guarantees eye health, protecting against macular degeneration, a pathology caused by the aging process of the eye.
✓ Stimulates the immune system
The high Vitamin C content of the melon protects against the attack of viruses and bacteria as it stimulates the immune system.
✓ Contrasts water retention and cellulite
The high water content of the melon and the good amount of potassium stimulate diuresis and therefore counteract water retention and the appearance of cellulite.
✓ Prevents heart attacks and strokes
This protective action is due to a substance contained in the melon, adenosine, which has a blood thinning action, reducing the risk of these pathologies.
✓ It is healing
The vitamin C contained in this fruit stimulates the production of collagen, therefore it has healing power. 100 grams of melon contain a quantity of Vitamin C which satisfies 61% of the daily requirement!
✓ Keeps the kidneys healthy
Thanks to the high water content, the consumption of melon stimulates diuresis and thus keeps the kidneys healthy.
✓ Promotes tanning
Melon, like all orange- colored vegetables, is rich in beta-carotene, a substance that stimulates the production of melanin, promotes proper tanning and helps protect the skin from UV damage.
How much melon to eat
As we have seen above, an optimal portion of melon is 150 grams of pulp, equal to about 2 slices. The guidelines for a healthy diet recommend the intake of at least 2 portions of fruit a day, therefore, when it is in season, we can eat 2 or 3 slices of melon even every day, possibly alternating with other seasonal fruit to guarantee us a diet that is always varied and rich in all the nutrients necessary to keep us healthy. In the case of a low-calorie diet, this quantity could be reduced according to individual needs.
Melon: how to choose and consume it
First of all, let’s see how to choose a melon at the right degree of ripeness through some simple tricks that involve the observation of:
- Petiole: the petiole of melon at the right degree of ripeness must be detached easily, without opposing too much resistance;
- Outer skin: to choose a melon it is also advisable to touch the outer skin. A melon at the right degree of ripeness will have the skin that yields slightly to the touch, while if the skin is too firm it means that the melon is still unripe or, on the contrary, if it yields too much then the melon is already very ripe;
- Smell: a melon at the right degree of ripeness releases a good scent while a still unripe melon will not smell and an overripe melon will have a particularly intense smell.
It is also advisable to buy the melon with the skin not worn, without bruises and possibly from organic farming.
The melon should be eaten fresh, after removing the peel and seeds. It can be enjoyed as a mid-morning or afternoon snack, or it can also be used to make smoothies and thirst-quenching juices. Excellent combinations with strawberries, peaches, lemon, cucumbers, celery or apricots. The classic summer “ham and melon” is a combination that practically everyone likes and can be a fresh alternative to lunch on the hottest days.
Melon can also be used for its cosmetic properties : the melon juice obtained with the centrifuge can be used on skin exposed to the sun for its refreshing and decongestant effect. We can also use melon to make a face skin mask, making it soft and velvety. Just blend 3 tablespoons of well-ripened pulp with a teaspoon of honey and a few tablespoons of unsweetened almond milk. Leave it on the skin for 15 minutes before rinsing.
The melon, although rich in benefits, has some contraindications. In particular, since it has a high glycemic index, its usual consumption is not recommended for diabetics, especially if combined with other foods with a high glycemic index such as pasta and bread. In this case, it is possible to eat melon as long as the consumption is not excessive and possibly not on an empty stomach, but to complete a low glycemic index meal.
Do not consume large quantities as the high potassium content may cause muscle cramps. Precaution also in those suffering from gastric disorders such as gastritis or digestive problems. In these cases it is better to evaluate your tolerance by eating a small portion of melon. However, it is not particularly problematic in those who suffer from irritable colon.