The Health Benefits of Cantaloupe Prove It's a Summer Produce MVP

Beneath that hard, wart-y exterior is a soft and juicy orange interior — quite literally dripping with nutrients and health perks — that'll make you ask, "watermelon, who?"

These Cantaloupe Benefits Will Convince You to Eat Melon All Summer Long , Seamless and colourful pattern of ripe melon slices on marigold coloured backdrop. Tropical fruit background. Food photography. Concept of spring summer colour trend.
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If cantaloupe isn't on your summer radar, you'll want to change that, stat. The warm-weather fruit is brimming with essential nutrients, from disease-fighting antioxidants to constipation-busting fiber. Cantaloupe is also surprisingly versatile; it tastes amazing frozen in ice pops, fresh off the rind, and even grilled as a dinner dish. Ahead, learn about the health benefits of cantaloupe, plus exactly how to pick and cut the melon for your fruitiest summer yet.

What Is Cantaloupe?

Hailing from the same family as honeydew, cucumber, watermelon, and pumpkin, cantaloupe is a type of melon that grows on a flowering vine. Protecting the fruit's pale orange (and juicy AF) flesh is a hard beige-gray rind with a raised "netted" texture, according to Colorado State University. And while the exact origins of cantaloupes (and melons in general) are unknown, scientists think they're native to Africa or Asia, according to a 2018 article in the American Journal of Botany.

Cantaloupe Nutrition Facts

Cantaloupe's nutrition is just as sweet as the fruit tastes, trust. The summer produce is packed with vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium, according to a 2019 study. It's also rich in beta-carotene, a carotenoid the body converts into vitamin A that supports immune system functions, skin and vision health, and more, according to the National Library of Medicine. Not only is it full of fiber but it's also almost entirely water, making for a particularly delish way to keep your digestion system running smoothly.

Here's the nutritional profile of one cup of cantaloupe (~160 grams), according to the United States Department of Agriculture:

  • 54 calories
  • 1 gram protein
  • 0 grams fat
  • 13 grams carbohydrate
  • 1 gram fiber
  • 13 grams sugar

Health Benefits of Cantaloupe

As if its impressive lineup of nutrients wasn't enough of a reason to add the melon to your summer menu, cantaloupe's health benefits will surely convince you. Read on to learn more.

Fights Oxidative Stress

"One of the most well-known antioxidants found in cantaloupe is vitamin C," says registered dietitian Kelsey Lloyd, M.S., R.D. Meaning, it combats oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals before they can "build up in the body [and] cause damage to cells," says registered dietitian Laura Iu, R.D., C.D.N. And this is a pretty big deal because high levels of oxidative stress can increase the risk of developing chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Vitamin C even helps the body regenerate vitamin E, another antioxidant, according to an article in Nutrients. (The more the merrier, y'all.)

And while it's undeniably a powerhouse, vitamin C isn't the only antioxidant in cantaloupe. ICYMI earlier, the melon contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant and pigment found in orange fruits and vegetables (like carrots), adds Lloyd. Together with vitamin C, beta-carotene makes cantaloupe an A+ source of disease-fighting antioxidants. (BTW, beta-carotene is also responsible for cantaloupe's summery hue. So, the darker the flesh, the more beta-carotene in every bite, according to The University of Maine.)

Supports the Immune System

Thanks to its vitamin C and beta-carotene, the summery melon can also protect your immune system. As Lloyd notes, vitamin C "supports [the regeneration] of new tissues in your body," which promotes healthy wound healing. It's also "important for neutrophil function," according to a 2019 article. Neutrophils are a type of immune cell that "eats" harmful germs, thus reducing the risk of infection or potential damage brought on by said germs. Plus, as an antioxidant, vitamin C shields lymphocytes (another immune cell) from oxidative stress, according to a 2020 review in Frontiers of Immunology. (Lymphocytes are in charge of fighting toxins, viruses, bacteria, and cancerous cells.) As for beta-carotene? In the body, "beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A," explains Kylie Ivanir, M.S., R.D., registered dietitian and founder of Within Nutrition. And research suggests that vitamin A supports the production and growth of immune cells, including the aforementioned lymphocytes. (

Promotes Healthy Digestion

"Cantaloupe has both soluble and insoluble fiber," says Lloyd. "Both fibers are great for keeping your digestive tract healthy." For starters, soluble fiber is, as you probably guessed it, soluble. So, when it comes into contact with H20 (and other liquids) in the gut, it forms a gel-like substance that helps form stool, improving constipation (by softening dry stool) and diarrhea (by firming up loose stool), according to Oregon State University. On the flip side, insoluble fiber doesn't combine with water. This helps move food through your digestive tract, which keeps you regular and prevents (and alleviates) constipation, according to the University of California San Francisco.

When it comes to this health benefit of cantaloupe, however, it's important to note that if you don't typically eat a lot of fiber-rich foods (i.e. fruit), avoid eating too much cantaloupe at once. It's essential to add fiber — from any food — to your diet gradually, says Lloyd. "Going from 0 to 100 can cause abdominal cramps, gas, bloating, and general discomfort," she explains. Start with a serving size of one cup of cubed cantaloupe, as suggested by the USDA, and see how you feel from there.

Promotes Heart Health

High blood cholesterol and high blood pressure levels are major risk factors for heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But thanks to the soluble fiber, potassium, and vitamin C in cantaloupe, the summer melon can help reduce these risks. Soluble fiber manages blood cholesterol by increasing the excretion of excess cholesterol in the stool, according to a 2019 article. Meanwhile, potassium regulates blood pressure by increasing how much sodium you pee out, according to the American Heart Association. (High sodium levels make your body hold on to water, causing high blood pressure, according to a 2019 article in the journal Nutrients.) As for vitamin C? A 2017 study found that vitamin C can increase the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that improves blood flow (and thus, high blood pressure) by relaxing blood vessels. (

Boosts Hydration

For a tasty way to increase your water intake, nosh on cantaloupe, which is about 90 percent water, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. After all, "we need water for basically everything our bodies do," says Lloyd. For example, it's necessary for digestion, metabolism, blood pressure control, and natural detoxification processes in the liver and kidneys (think: removing waste and toxins, such as alcohol, from the blood), she explains.

"Water is [also] essential for transporting nutrients inside the body and regulating body temperature," adds Iu. That said, drinking too little H20 can cause dehydration, triggering unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, fatigue, muscle spasms, and constipation, says Iu. But by drinking plenty of fluids every day — and eating hydrating foods such as cantaloupe — you'll be more likely to meet your daily hydration needs (i.e. 11.5 cups for women, according to the Mayo Clinic).

Potential Risks of Cantaloupe

Although cantaloupe is a nutritional all-star, it's not for everyone. "There's a connection between certain pollen allergies and allergic reactions to melons [like cantaloupes]," notes Lloyd. "Particularly, folks with grass or ragweed allergies may have a reaction to cantaloupe and other melons." That's because the proteins in cantaloupe are similar to the allergy-causing proteins in grass and ragweed pollen, a phenomenon called oral allergy syndrome, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.Unsure if you're allergic to anything, if at all? Visit an allergist, who can use various tests to confirm if you have any allergies.

If you have a history of kidney disease, you might want to avoid high-potassium foods such as cantaloupe. Here's why: The kidneys are responsible for normalizing your body's potassium levels, according to the National Kidney Function. But kidney disease reduces this function, increasing the risk of high potassium levels, aka hyperkalemia, which can cause tingling, weakness, irregular heartbeat, or a heart attack. Since cantaloupe is rich in potassium, you'll want to steer clear of the melon if you have kidney issues, according to a 2018 study in Frontiers of Plant Science.

How to Prepare and Eat Cantaloupe

In the supermarket, you can find cantaloupe raw, frozen, and dried, such as Sincerely Nuts Dried Cantaloupe Chunks (Buy It, $18, That being said, the raw version is the most common form in stores and can be bought whole or pre-cut (as cubes) in plastic containers. The fruit's also in season during the summer, according to the USDA, so the ideal time to buy cantaloupe (for peak flavor and quality) is during the warmer months.

As for how to pick a cantaloupe? Look for a melon with a firm outer rind and a fruity aroma where the fruit separates from the stem, according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. If the melon is overripe, you will see a softening of the entire rind and soft watery flesh. Small bruises will not usually hurt the flesh, but avoid those with large bruised areas since they're typically a sign of soft, water-soaked flesh underneath the rind.

How to Cut a Cantaloupe

Learning how to cut a cantaloupe might seem daunting given the heavy fruit and intimidating rind, but cutting and preparing the melon is actually quite easy. Follow these steps from the University of Arkansas: Wash the whole cantaloupe under cool, running water, then lightly scrub the outer rind with a fruit and vegetable brush. Try: Zoie Chloe 100% Natural Plant-Fiber Soft Bristles Vegetable Brush (Buy It, $8, Pat it dry, then slice it in half lengthwise with a clean large knife. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then cut each half (lengthwise) into wedges, says Ivanir. You'll be left with crescent-shaped slices that can be eaten right off the rind. Alternatively, you can cut the flesh along the rind then slice it into cubes.

BTW: Whole (uncut) cantaloupe can last on the countertop for five to 15 days or a few weeks in the refrigerator. Cut cantaloupe lasts for approximately five days in the refrigerator, according to Purdue University.

Now that you know how to choose and cut cantaloupe, it's time to add this juicy melon and exciting cantaloupe recipes to your rotation. Here are several ideas for eating the fruit at home:

In smoothies. Add a handful of cubed cantaloupes to your next smoothie, such as a mango, papaya, and coconut smoothie. The cantaloupe will boost the flavor and water content of your beverage, so you can start your day off with a hydrating, nutrient-rich breakfast.

As a grilled side dish. The mild sweetness of cantaloupe is the perfect canvas for a smoky grilled side. Try a honey-lime grilled cantaloupe or grilled melon salad with mint.

With yogurt. Sweeten up your next yogurt bowl with cantaloupe cubes, nuts, and seeds, suggests Ivanir. Not in the mood for yogurt? Try cubed cantaloupe with your fave cereal or overnight oats recipe.

In ice pops. For a delicious summer treat, puree cantaloupe, yogurt, and honey in a blender, says Ivanir. Pour the mixture into an ice pop mold — i.e. Aoluvy Silicone Popsicle Molds (Buy It, $20, — and leave it in the freezer until frozen. Hello, DIY dessert! (More healthy popsicle recipes right here.)

In a fruit salad. Add cubes of cantaloupe to a fruit salad, recommends Iu. Try a berry cantaloupe salad or, for something a bit different, a savory melon salad with smoked salt.

With prosciutto. Elevate your summer charcuterie board with this snack idea from Iu: Wrap cantaloupe cubes with prosciutto, then stick a toothpick into each piece.

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