Melons are a fruit that comes from plants that belong to the Cucurbitacae family. The fruit is quite fleshy and juicy and is edible. Melons are a very nutritious food, and they have been enjoyed for centuries around the world.

There is more than one kind of melon, and some varieties are thought to have medicinal properties. For example, the seeds of the cantaloupe were often used by the Chinese to help regulate the digestive system and bring down fevers. Because of their high water content, melons were also used as a diuretic in many cultures.

 

Varieties of Melon

There are several kinds of melon, with each one having its own appearance and taste. The most popular varieties include:

 

  • The Winter Melon — this variety is popular in Asia and India, and is often used to make fruity drinks.
  • The Watermelon — this fruit is a member of the Citrullus family, and has been cultivated for more than 4,000 years. Today, it is consumed all over the world. This is the variety that is most well known in the western world and that is easiest to find in supermarkets.
  • Cucumis — there are several different kinds of melon in this family, including the honeydew and the cantaloupe. These culinary fruits are often used to make fruity drinks and can also be eaten in salads.

 

Common Uses

Melons are usually eaten raw as a part of a fruit salad, and they can also be used as a topping or complement to a dessert or juiced or blended for use in a smoothie. They are a flexible and tasty fruit, and their high water content means that they are popular as a summer snack.

The one exception to this is the M.Charantia, a member of the Momordica family. This variety is unusual because the flesh is bitter in flavour. The gelatinous coating of the seeds, however, is quite sweet and some Asian cultures use this coating as a sweetener.

 

Nutritional Information

Each variety has a different nutritional profile, but in general, melons are a fruit that is highly nutrient-dense and relatively low in calories compared to other fruits. Because they contain so much water, their calorie content per serving is relatively low — as low as 34 calories per 100 grams. In addition, they are low in fat and a good source of potassium. This means that they are a good choice for athletes who want to make sure that they are getting enough electrolytes in their day-to-day diets.

There are many health benefits associated with these fruits. Watermelons, for example, are rich in lycopene, a nutrient which is thought to help to protect your heart. According to one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who had high lycopene levels had a 50% lower risk of developing heart disease than women with low lycopene levels.

Melons also contain vitamin B6, and this helps to reduce inflammation. High inflammation levels can increase oxidative stress and can be an indicator of several metabolic conditions.

The potassium found in this fruit is an important micronutrient which can help to control blood pressure. A single serving of cantaloupe contains about ten per cent of the recommended daily amount of potassium and is quite low in calories too.

Watermelons are rich in citruline, a nutrient which the body uses to help produce arginine. This amino acid plays an important role in the function of your immune system, and also helps to promote wound healing.

Cantaloupe are rich in vitamin A and vitamin C. Vitamin A is important for bone growth and also for protecting your vision, while vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and is also used to help the formation of collagen in your cartilage, muscles, bones and blood vessels. Vitamin C can help to stave off the effects of aging, and is also important for tissue and bone repair.

 

Melons in the Paleo Diet

While this fruit is incredibly nutritious, it is not strictly a Paleo food. The health benefits associated with this fruit mean that many people who follow the Paleo diet do consume melons, but those who want to stick to the strictest definitions of the diet would eat them only in moderation.

The Paleo diet involves limiting your food intake to only foods that your ancestors would have had access to. This means that you would eat a lot of vegetables, meat (grass-fed beef, free-range chickens and wild0caught fish, ideally) and nuts and berries. Fruit is a part of a Paleo lifestyle, but it should only be eaten in moderation and when it is in season. Grains are forbidden, as are dairy products. Many people choose to go Paleo because of celiac disease, gluten intolerance or lactose intolerance, and even those who have not been diagnosed with such conditions find that they feel better when they cut certain foods out of their diets.

Our caveman ancestors would have had access to some fruits, but only on occasion. They were hunter-gatherers and got a wide variety of nutrients because they ate different foods depending on what was available at the time. Modern western diets tend to be quite limited and repetitive, and this is one of the reasons that so many people suffer from nutrient deficiencies.

Whether or not you add melons to your diet depends on how strict you want to be. Fruits in general contain a lot of sugars, so should not make up the bulk of your day-to-day calorie intake. However, there are many far worse foods that you could be eating. If you enjoy melons, you are not trying to lose weight, and you do not experience any adverse effects from eating them, then by all means use them as an occasional treat.

If you want to consume a lot of fruit as a part of the Paleo diet, then instead of eating melons consider low-sugar fruits such as the banana or high-fat fruits such as the avocado. Bananas are a great source of potassium and are a good slow-release energy source too. Avocados are rich in healthy fats and can make a luxurious treat.

 

 

photo credit: DSC00584.JPG via photopin (license)

 

 

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