Medically reviewed by Aviv Joshua, MS
Cantaloupe is a large, round fruit that grows on a ground vine. It has a netted rind and orange flesh. A member of the musk melon family, the high water content makes cantaloupe a juicy treat.
Cantaloupe is much richer in vitamins C and A than watermelon and honeydew. It also has more beta-carotene and potassium. It provides some fiber and falls into the low to moderate range on the glycemic index.
This article discusses cantaloupe’s nutritional value and benefits, along with important safety information.
Alberto Rojas Garcia / Getty Images
An outbreak of salmonella related to precut cantaloupe, first posted in November 2023, involved 158 hospitalizations and six deaths across 44 states. The recalled cantaloupes are no longer available for sale, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) closed the investigation.
Benefits of Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe is rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that promote overall good health.
Helps Keep You Hydrated
Supports Weight Loss
The high water content plus fiber can satisfy hunger and help you feel full longer, so you might eat less. A 1-cup serving of cantaloupe is only about 60 calories. And cantaloupe is a healthy alternative to snacks and sides that are high in calories but low in nutritional value.
Incorporating more fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, nuts, and beans into your diet can help you maintain or lose weight. But moderation is key. One cup of cantaloupe gives you 28% of the daily value (DV) for sugar.
Promotes Eye Health
Supports Heart Health
A 1-cup serving of cantaloupe provides 10% of the DV for potassium. Potassium lessens the effects of sodium and can help manage high blood pressure (hypertension), which is a risk factor for heart disease. Cantaloupe also has very low sodium, just a trace of saturated fats, and no cholesterol.
Strengthens the Immune System
Vitamin C is vital to various functions of the immune system, boosting its strength. Vitamin C helps prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. One cup of cantaloupe contains 65 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C.
Helps Keep Skin Healthy
Aids in Digestion
There’s also some fiber in cantaloupe, which helps keep the digestive tract clean, improve gut health, and lower the risk of developing colon cancer.
Nutrition Facts: Single Cantaloupe Serving
Here’s just some of the nutrients you get in a 1-cup, or 177 gram (g), serving of cantaloupe melon balls:
- Calories: 60.2
- Protein: 1.49 g
- Carbohydrates: 14.4 g
- Total fats: 0.3 g
- Sugar: 13.9 g
- Fiber: 1.59 g
- Sodium: 28.3 mg
- Iron: 0.37 mg
- Calcium: 15.9 mg
- Potassium: 473 mg
- Phosphorus: 26.6 mg
- Vitamin C: 65 mg
- Vitamin A: 299 micrograms (mcg)
Cantaloupe Salmonella Outbreaks
Melons grow on the ground, and their surfaces can get contaminated with bacteria such as those in the genus Salmonella. In the United States, salmonella infections cause about 1.35 million illnesses, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths every year.
More outbreaks involve cantaloupes than other melons, likely due to their rough, netted surface, which makes them harder to clean. Cantaloupes can get contaminated during several points in production due to improper storage practices. In addition, they’re subject to cross-contamination during cutting and food prep when equipment isn’t cleaned correctly.
Salmonella infection symptoms (stomach cramping, diarrhea, and fever) typically start hours to six days after the contaminated food is consumed and can last up to a week. In some cases, salmonella infection leads to more severe disease and death.
Should Anyone Not Eat Cantaloupe?
Anyone at high risk of severe salmonella infection might want to avoid cantaloupe, especially when it is precut. Among the most vulnerable are:
- Children under age 5
- Infants younger than 1 year who are not breastfed
- People age 65 and up
- Those with a weakened immune system
- People who take certain medicines, such as stomach acid reducers
With portion control in mind, most people with well-controlled diabetes can enjoy fruits like cantaloupe.
Eating a whole cantaloupe at once could leave you feeling bloated. The high quantities of water and fiber could lead to stomach upset or diarrhea. And you’d be greatly increasing sugar, carbs, and calories.
Different Ways to Enjoy Cantaloupe
A fresh, ripe cantaloupe is easy to enjoy as is. Cut into wedges, cubes, or melon balls for snacking or dessert. But you can use this versatile melon in a variety of ways, such as:
- Pair it with sandwiches and burgers in place of fries or chips.
- Add it to fruit salad.
- Put it in a green salad.
- Add it to a fruit smoothie.
- Use it to make a sorbet.
- Slice it ultra thin to garnish drinks.
- Thread cantaloupe cubes onto a skewer with other mixed fruits.
- Add it for contrast in a spicy salsa.
Choosing, Storing, and Prepping
A ripe cantaloupe has a fruity aroma, and the end of the melon should have a slight cavity. The course netting on the rind should be light green, gray, buff, or yellowish.
An underripe cantaloupe typically has no aroma. An overripe cantaloupe shows signs of softening, large areas of bruising, and watery areas underneath the rind. Whole cantaloupe should be stored at room temperature. Once it’s been cut, store it in the refrigerator.
Cantaloupe is rich in nutrients that support overall health. Most people, even those with diabetes, can enjoy cantaloupe. A balanced diet should include a variety of fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean meats, nuts, and beans.
Cantaloupe is prone to bacterial contamination, especially from Salmonella. Its textured skin can trap bacteria. Proper storing and handling can help lower the chances of infection. Avoid cantaloupe if you’re at risk of serious disease due to infection.
Read the original article on Verywell Health.