Cantaloupe Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

cantaloupe nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

If you've been wondering whether cantaloupes are too sweet to be good for you, you'll be happy to learn that these melons (also known as "muskmelons") provide several health benefits.

Cantaloupe is high in several nutrients and also contains a large volume of water (about 90%). Eating cantaloupe is a good way to aid in hydration and fulfill your fluid requirements while also boosting your intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Cantaloupe Nutrition Facts

One cup of raw cantaloupe balls (177g) provides 60 calories, 1.5g of protein, 14.4g of carbohydrates, and 0.3g of fat. Cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. This nutrition information is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

  • Calories: 60
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Sodium: 28mg
  • Carbohydrates: 14.4g
  • Fiber: 1.6g
  • Sugars: 14g
  • Protein: 1.5g
  • Vitamin C: 65mg
  • Vitamin A: 299.1mcg
  • Potassium: 472.6mg

Carbs

In a 1-cup serving of cantaloupe, there are 14.4 grams of total carbohydrates with 1.6 grams of fiber and about 14 grams of natural sugar. The fiber in cantaloupe is mostly insoluble, but it contains some soluble fiber as well.

Because of its natural sugar content, cantaloupe has a glycemic index of 65. Its glycemic load (which takes serving size into account) is only 4, however, due to cantaloupe's high water percentage.

Fats

Like most fruit, there is almost no fat in cantaloupe.

Protein

Cantaloupe provides a small amount of protein with 1.5 grams per cup. It's not a significant source of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Cantaloupe provides potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins C, A, and B9 (folate). Cantaloupe is most rich in vitamin C, with one cup providing 72% of your daily recommended intake based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Vitamin A is also abundant, with 33% of your daily intake per cup.

Calories

One cup of raw cantaloupe balls (177g) provides 60 calories, 87% of which come from carbs, 8% from protein, and 5% from fat. Cantaloupe is a low-calorie, water-rich food.

Summary

Cantaloupe is a nutrient-dense source of carbohydrates. The melon is a rich source of vitamin C, A, and potassium. It also contains magnesium, vitamin K, zinc, and folate. It is hydrating and virtually fat-free.

Health Benefits

Cantaloupe has many proven health benefits related to its antioxidant power, electrolytes, and water content.

Prevents Dehydration

Aside from drinking enough water, eating high-water fruits like cantaloupe can help you stay hydrated. Because cantaloupe contains over 90% water, it makes a great snack on a hot day. It's also a good source of the electrolyte potassium.

The USDA’s 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines indicate potassium as a dietary component of public health concern because studies have shown that people in the U.S. consume less than is recommended.

Low intakes in potassium are associated with health risks including severe dehydration. The easiest way to figure out if you're properly hydrated is by checking the color of your urine. It should be pale yellow. Dark yellow or amber-colored urine may indicate dehydration.

Supports Eye Health

Cantaloupe is a top food for eye health due to its beta carotene content. The same vitamins that give carrots their orange color are also responsible for the color and benefits of cantaloupe. In addition to beta carotene, cantaloupe also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two fat-soluble antioxidants belonging to the class of carotenoids called xanthophylls. 

Although lutein and zeaxanthin are not converted to vitamin A, they do possess properties that contribute to eye health, particularly in the macula. Incorporating cantaloupe into your meal plan provides key nutrients for your eyes.

May Help Reduce Cancer Risk

Cantaloupe's high antioxidant activity helps scavenge free radicals before they cause damage. Extract from cantaloupe's peel and seeds has been shown to prevent the growth of tumor cells of the kidney, colorectal area, and cervical area.

The antioxidant properties of the melon and peel inhibited the spread of the tumors by 20% to 85%. However, this study is preliminary and not conclusive. More research is needed, but it is promising for future efforts.

Helps Heal Sunburns

Melon provides photoprotective effects when ingested or applied topically to the skin. When placed on sunburned skin, melon extract increases antioxidant activity, reducing sunburned cells and boosting melanin levels. Although eating cantaloupe doesn't replace the need for sun protection, it may give your body some extra help when healing from sunburns.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Like many fruits, cantaloupe is naturally low in sodium and high in potassium, with 1 cup of cantaloupe balls offering 473 milligrams of potassium. This combination of high potassium and low sodium is effective at reducing high blood pressure.

Cantaloupe is also a heart-healthy choice. Choosing foods high in potassium like cantaloupe is associated with a decreased risk of hypertension and stroke.

Allergies

People with oral allergy syndrome (OAS) may react when exposed to cantaloupe, especially if they are also allergic to grasses. Symptoms may include itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue, and throat, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing or swallowing. 

If you suspect that you are allergic to cantaloupe or have OAS, seek the care of a qualified healthcare professional. Diagnosis may include skin testing, blood tests, and a review of your symptoms.

Varieties

There are two main varieties of cantaloupe: North American cantaloupe and European cantaloupe. Both varieties are orange inside with a similar taste. The main difference is the outside pattern on the rind. North American cantaloupe has a net-like pattern, while European cantaloupe is lightly ribbed.

Cantaloupe seeds are edible and popular in the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. You can find fresh cantaloupe sold whole, sliced, or cut into spheres with a melon-baller.

When It's Best

Picking the perfect cantaloupe is somewhat of an art form. You can either purchase a ripe cantaloupe for immediate use or one that needs to ripen at home. If you are looking for a ripe cantaloupe, you should search for three things:

  • Color: The skin under the mesh should be a light orange or cream color. Green indicates an unripe fruit.
  • Stem end: The end of the cantaloupe with the stem should have a smooth, rounded scar. You want to find the indentation, an indication that the fruit was picked when it was ripe.
  • Blossom end: The other side of the cantaloupe is the blossom end. Smell this part: It should be fragrant, and when you press on it, it will "give" slightly. If it is rock hard with very little smell, it's probably unripe.

A cantaloupe will continue to ripen for a few days after it is picked. If it is still hard and has very little fragrance, the flavor may be disappointing. Avoid melons that contain nicks or other damage. This is usually a sign that it is a host for bacteria. If you purchase a melon that is not fully ripe, store it at room temperature for a couple of days.

Storage and Food Safety

It's important to wash the cantaloupe before cutting into it. Use tap water and a vegetable brush. It is not recommended to wash melons with soap. The skin is porous, and soap can enter the flesh of the fruit.  

Cantaloupes are grown close to the ground and can contact bacteria from the soil, water, and animals. This is a food safety concern. Not only can environmental factors play a role in contamination, but human contamination can also occur during or after harvest. Washing the exterior of the melon helps to remove any bacteria.

Wash the knife after cutting cantaloupe and before using it on other foods, as bacteria can spread through cross-contamination. After washing, blot the melon with a clean paper towel to remove excess water. Then cut off the stem end, where most bacteria tend to collect, and throw it away.

Once cut, store melon in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. If possible, store it in the crisper. Keep in mind that the riper the melon, the less shelf life it has left before it will spoil. Leaving cut melon at room temperature or in the heat can rapidly grow harmful bacteria on the flesh.

If you'd like to keep melon for longer, you can cut ripe melon and store it in the freezer in a freezer bag or airtight container.

How to Prepare

Cantaloupe is a rich-looking fruit that can be used as a garnish, in salads, or eaten as is. It's great when paired with salty foods such as cheese or used to top yogurt or cottage cheese. Play with the versatility of cantaloupe while enjoying its nutritional benefits and juicy sweetness.

Recipes

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17 Sources
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