3 Sweet Melons To Cool You This Summer

by Stephanie Skinner-Lucas, MS, RD, LDN

Last Updated: June 25, 2021

It is melon mania time! What better way to cool off on a hot summer afternoon than with a cold, refreshing fruit dish or beverage. Melons are an excellent choice - nutrient-dense, sweet, and tasty. You may be thinking, is that true? Yes, it is! Melons are exploding with nutrients to aid in meeting your daily nutrient needs. Impress your family and friends with some fun facts, benefits, and tips about three of the best-known melons of the Cucurbitaceous family: watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe.

WATERMELON

Fun Facts
  • The watermelon, species Citrullus lanatus, is related to cucumber, pumpkins and squash
  • By weight, watermelon is the most-consumed melon in the United States, followed by cantaloupe and honeydew
  • All parts of a watermelon can be eaten, even the rind
  • The world’s heaviest watermelon ever-grown weighed 350.5 pounds in 2013

Health Benefits
  • Watermelon contains 46 calories per cup, one of the lowest in calories for a fruit. It is a source of vitamin C, and vitamin A. Watermelon also contains potassium, magnesium, vitamins B1, B5, and B6.
  • Watermelons contain lycopene, a potent antioxidant that gives a red color to plant foods.
  • Lycopene is important in cardiovascular and bone health, helps reduce the risk of prostate, breast, lung, colon, and endometrial cancers, and helps keep eyes healthy.
  • Watermelon is 92% water and contains a small amount of fiber. Both are important for healthy digestion. This makes watermelon hydrating and helps you feel full.
  • Citrulline in watermelon juice could be partially responsible for easing muscle soreness after exercise.
  • Several nutrients in watermelon are good for your hair and skin: vitamins A and C, lycopene, and beta-carotene.

Selection Tips
Watermelon picking time! Touch, look, and listen.
  • Pick it up. It should feel heavy for its size.
  • Look for the yellow spot on the bottom of the watermelon. When this splotch is creamy yellow, it is ripe.
  • Give it a thump. Tap the underbelly of the watermelon. A ripe one will have a deep hollow sound. Under-ripe or overripe melons will sound dull.

HONEYDEW

Fun Facts
  • Honeydew melon, or honeymelon, belongs to the melon species Cucumis melo (muskmelon). It is the third most popular melon.
  • Honeydew is the sweetest of all melons. Once it is picked, it may soften but can no longer get any sweeter.
  • There are two types of honeydews, one with green flesh and the other with orange flesh.
  • Honeydew pairs well with lime, mint, basil, sweet cream, cottage cheese, fruity olive oil, and fresh berries.

Health Benefits
  • A one cup serving of honeydew melon provides 64 calories and 0 grams of fat. It contains vitamin C, B6, folate, vitamin K, potassium, and magnesium. The honeydew fruit and seed also contain beta-carotene, phytoene, quercetin and caffeic acid-- strong antioxidant compounds.
  • Honeydew melon is high in potassium and low in sodium content which may help reduce blood pressure.
  • Honeydew contains multiple nutrients that are vital for bone health, including folate, vitamin K, and magnesium.
  • Honeydew may improve blood sugar control due to fiber and other nutrients found in fruit.
  • Honeydew melon is made up of about 90% water and contains electrolytes that may hydrate you more effectively than just water alone.
  • Eating honeydew melon may support healthy skin and support your immune system due to its high vitamin C content.
  • Honeydew melon contains moderate fiber, a nutrient that may promote proper digestion.
  • Two antioxidants that are known to support healthy eyes and vision, lutein, and zeaxanthin, are found in honeydew melons.

Selection Tips
  • Perfectly ripe honeydew will have an almost indistinguishable wrinkling on the skin’s surface often, detectable only by touch.
  • Choose one that is very heavy for its size. Underripe melons can be ripened at room temperature.
  • A faint sweet smell indicates ripeness. Blossom end (the end opposite the stem) should be slightly soft.

CANTALOUPE

Fun Facts
  • The U.S. cantaloupe is frequently called muskmelon. Muskmelon is a family of melon that includes the cantaloupe, honeydew, and casaba melon.
  • Cantaloupe is the most popular type of muskmelon as well as the most popular melon sold in the U.S.
  • Cantaloupe pairs well with feta and goat cheeses, almonds and hazelnuts, mint, citrus and cured pork.
  • The heaviest cantaloupe melon weighed over 67 pounds in 2019.

Health Benefits
  • Cantaloupes contain beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that can convert to vitamin A. Vitamin A is important to eye health, red blood cells, and strong immune health.
  • Cantaloupe is loaded with 100% of vitamin C in 1 cup. Vitamin C is involved in blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and bone collagen.
  • Folate which is well-known for preventing neural tube birth defects like spina bifida is present in cantaloupe. It may also help reduce some cancers and memory loss due to aging, although more research is needed.
  • Cantaloupe is almost 90% water and helps you stay hydrated throughout the day, which is important for heart health.
  • Cantaloupe contains fiber which may reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes and aid in weight loss by making you feel fuller longer.
  • Cantaloupe provides 4% of your potassium daily value, vital for nerve health and proper muscle contraction.

Selection Tips
  • Look for cantaloupes that are symmetrical and feel heavy versus hollow.
  • The color should be creamy, light yellow-orange with little to no green.
  • The ripe cantaloupe should smell sweet and release its trademark floral musky aroma.
  • It should yield just slightly to finger pressure at its blossom end, which is opposite of its scarred end, where it was removed from the stem.

I predict more vibrant red, brilliant green, and bold orange melon dishes and beverages in your future. Give these creative melon-centric recipes a shot. Now, you are truly ready for summer!

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.


Stephanie Skinner-Lucas, MS, RD, LDN

Stephanie Skinner-Lucas, MS, RD, LDN

Stephanie is a proactive dietitian who believes healthy lifestyle changes are made one habit at a time. Small intentional steps early in life can lead to long-term victories for the rest of your life. With a background from geriatric nutrition to meal planning, renal disease to weight management, Stephanie has had the opportunity to serve many populations. She believes success is achieved by listening, mentoring and partnering with each individual to find what they need to live their healthiest life. Stephanie loves preparing meals with spice, crunch & texture that awakens the palate! In her free time, she enjoys helping others, walking for charity and improving her golf swing.