By Kati Mora, MS, RD for Around the Plate
Melons might just be one of the most overlooked fruits of the season. And although other summer treats like berries and peaches are great, melons shouldn’t be forgotten.
Of course, watermelon is often a summertime staple, but what about the other members of the melon family like honeydew and cantaloupe, just to name a few? Melons are great fruit options worth enjoying during some of the warmest months of the year, and not just because of their high water content! Melons are virtual nutrient powerhouses. Let’s take a closer look at two of my personal favorites: cantaloupe and honeydew.
Although the cantaloupe isn’t quite as orange as a carrot, it’s still a great source of vitamin A. In fact, some studies even claim that cantaloupes can have as much as 3,138 micrograms of the carotenoid beta-carotene for every 100 grams of fresh weight. That’s 30 times more than vitamin A’s poster child, the carrot.
You will also find a lot of vitamin C in a cantaloupe. What won’t you find? Too many calories. At only 54 calories per cup, it is a snack you can feel pretty good about.
Looking to get even more antioxidants? Honeydew melons can help you do just that! With 53% of your daily value of vitamin C in just 1 cup, you’re looking at a lot of antioxidant power. Antioxidants are beneficial for so many reasons. By incorporating them into your day, you can reduce your chronic disease risk and lessen tissue damage.
Honeydew melons can also help keep your vision 20/20 because of a little phytonutrient called zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin, another type of carotenoid, is what gives the honeydew melon its green color and has been shown to accumulate in your eyes, protecting it from harmful blue light.
How to Eat Your Melons
Although melons are often easily forgotten, they are actually quite versatile. If you are looking for a few creative ways to incorporate them into your meals and snacks, consider the following:
- Add frozen melon balls or cubes to your sparkling water in place of ice. This will add an extra dose of refreshment to your drink.
- Add a few slices of melon to your favorite smoothie recipe. The flavor is subtle, but it does add a little something to your nutrient-dense beverage.
- Top off your favorite yogurt or cottage cheese with a few melon slices. It’s a great complimentary flavor.
- Turn it into a tasty beverage! This non-alcoholic Honeydew Lime Cooler is a perfect example!
- Use a melon baller to build “snowmen” or “ants” with your kids by sticking them onto wooden skewers. For the grown-ups, it’s the ideal tool for 2 Ingredient Melon Ball Soup.
No matter how you incorporate melons into your day, you’ll be glad you did! They really are a fun way to add a little summer pizazz to some of your more traditional warm-weather foods and beverages.
August 9th, 2012