Hydrate with Honeydew6 years ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
The honeydew melon sure looks a lot like a cantaloupe. And this is probably because both melons belong to the Cucumis melo plant family, along with watermelon.
(Melons are also related to squash and cucumbers).
And although I love cantaloupe and watermelon, honeydew may actually be the sweetest of the melons! This may be why they are also called “temptation melons.”
Honeydew has been consumed for thousands of years. It has been said that it was a sacred food in ancient Egypt because of how juicy and sweet this melon is. Cleopatra was said to have loved honeydew. The exact origin of this fruit is unknown, but several sources say it originated in Persia.
Reportedly, the average honeydew melon weighs around six pounds! The average person consumes about three pounds of honeydew per year.
And it may be a good thing that people are eating pounds of honeydew.
Here is why...
Honeydew may do wonders for your cardiovascular health.
Just one cup of honeydew contains nearly 153 grams of water. Honeydews are about 90 percent water. Water is important for hydration.
Normal activities like urinating, breathing, sweating and crying cause us to lose water. You also lose more water when you are sick, sometimes from vomiting, having a fever or diarrhea. Taking certain medications, like water pills (also called diuretics), may also lead to dehydration. And just simply forgetting to drink enough water may also cause dehydration.
So proper hydration is good for your brain, mood and heart. According to one report, “your heart is constantly working, pumping about 2,000 gallons of blood a day. By staying hydrated – i.e. drinking more water than you are losing – you are helping your heart do its job. A hydrated heart is able to pump blood more easily, allowing the muscles in your body to work even better.”
And because honeydew is so rich in water, it acts as a natural diuretic and helps fight water retention in the body.
In addition to this, one cup of honeydew has 388 milligrams of potassium. Potassium may help fight hypertension (high blood pressure). This mineral works with sodium to balance the fluids and electrolytes in your body. It essentially helps keep blood pressure under control by balancing out the negative effects of salt. Keep in mind, honeydew does contain some sodium (31 milligrams per cup).
Honeydew also contains B vitamins.
These vitamins help form red blood cells.
One of the B vitamins honeydew contains is thiamine (B1). According to this report, B1 “enables the body to use carbohydrates as energy. It is essential for glucose metabolism, and it plays a key role in nerve, muscle, and heart function.”
Honey has niacin (B3). Niacin is important for your digestive system, skin and nervous system and even helps make sex hormones and stress-related hormones. It also helps improve circulation and suppress inflammation. In some cases, niacin is used to treat high cholesterol.
Pantothenic acid (B5) is also present in honeydew. Along with converting nutrients from food into energy, B5 may help balance blood sugar and reduce bad cholesterol in the body.
Honeydew may help with eye health.
Macular degeneration is an eye disease that is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting over 10 million Americans.
The exact causes of macular degeneration are not known, but it is something that can just happen from aging.
Honeydew contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin (46 micrograms in one cup). These are two carotenoids and antioxidants that concentrate in eye tissue. According to the American Optometric Association, “[l]utein and zeaxanthin filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and help protect and maintain healthy cells in the eyes. Of the 600 carotenoids found in nature, only these two are deposited in high quantities in the retina (macula) of the eye.” They may also help fight macular degeneration.
Honeydew may have mind-saving benefits.
This melon contains a micronutrient called choline. According to Oregon State University, [a]nimal studies have shown that choline is essential for optimal brain development and influences cognitive function in later life.” Choline is also important for liver function, normal brain development, liver function, nerve function and muscle movement.
If you are diabetic, the American Diabetes Association says that honeydew is an acceptable food, however, eat in moderation. One cup contains nearly 14 grams of sugar. That’s probably what makes it so sweet and delicious!
One cup of diced, raw honeydew also contains:
- Calcium, 10 mg. Adequate calcium may decrease your risk for colorectal cancer. Maintaining the correct levels of calcium in your system could also reduce your risk for breast cancer as well.
- Magnesium, 17 mg. This mineral helps ensure proper motion of your gut, relaxing the muscles of the intestines so that food can pass through. That’s why deficiency in magnesium often causes constipation. On top of this, this mineral helps regulate blood pressure, contributes to bone metabolism and has antioxidant functions. Magnesium is also great for pain management. Many people use magnesium as a safe alternative to ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Magnesium may even help alleviate leg cramps women may experience during pregnancy.
- Phosphorus, 19 mg. This mineral often does not get the credit it deserves, but it does so much for your body. Phosphorus is almost as abundant in your body as calcium and helps calcium build strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus is also important for how your body stores and uses energy, repairs cells and is needed to make proteins like the one responsible for the oxygen-carrying capabilities of our red blood cells. This mineral has also been linked to weight management. In a study of almost 40,000 women in Korea, phosphorus deficiency correlated with weight gain from oral contraceptives. Furthermore, a study from Lebanon showed that phosphorus supplements in a small group (63 people) for 12 weeks significantly decreased body weight, BMI, waist circumference and subjective appetite scores.
- Sodium, 31 mg. Sodium is one of the most important minerals in the human body. It regulates your body’s fluid levels while keeping your brain sharp. Sodium also prevents your muscles from cramping and even defends your skin from free radicals that accelerate your aging process.
- Vitamin C, 30.6 mg. This vitamin can help you build and maintain collagen. You lose collagen as you age, which weakens the elasticity of the skin. With its antioxidant properties, vitamin C helps protect the skin against free radicals we are all exposed to in the environment. This vitamin also promotes strong, healthy hair and nails. And as you probably know, vitamin C is great at boosting your immune system and fighting off colds.
- Folate, 32 mcg. Most adults need about 400 mcg of folate daily. If you are pregnant, you may need more. Folate is essential for cell growth and many other bodily functions. To see how much folate you need, read here.
- Vitamin A, 85 IU. This vitamin is an antioxidant that supports the immune system and is good for skin and eye health. Vitamin A also promotes cell growth.
Honeydew is great eaten by itself or added to a fruit salad. You can also try making this honeydew salsa for your next party.
The ingredients you need are:
- 2 cups diced peeled honeydew
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/8 cup chopped mint leaves
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Grated zest from one lime
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 serrano (hot) or jalapeno (medium) chopped
Any precautions with eating honeydew?
Honeydew appears to be overall safe to eat.
But as always, if you have any health issues or are taking any medications, communicate with a competent healthcare professional about what foods are a part of your daily diet. You always want to avoid a drug interaction.
Enjoy your healthy life!
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