Worried about the calories in cantaloupe? You don't have to. This juicy summer fruit is low in carbs and sugars, packs high doses of vitamin C and has just 47 calories per serving. On top of that, it's naturally sweet and makes a healthy dessert or snack.
Cantaloupe: Superfood or Sugar Bomb?
What can be more refreshing than a juicy slice of cantaloupe on a hot summer day? This melon is over 90 percent water, keeping you hydrated for hours. Its flavorful flesh is chock-full of vitamin A, vitamin C, carotenoids and antioxidants.
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Also known as Cucumis melo, this fruit offers numerous health benefits. One serving is about two medium wedges and provides more than 25 percent of the daily value (DV) of vitamin A, according to the USDA. Vitamin A supports the formation of new skin cells, protects your eyes and keeps your immune system strong. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is a major risk factor for severe infection.
Each serving of cantaloupe includes more than half the daily recommended vitamin C intake as well as small doses of zinc, potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium. Vitamin C supports immune function and metabolic health, aids in collagen production and reduces the harmful effects of oxidative stress on cells and tissues. It also helps your body absorb non-heme iron, a mineral that occurs naturally in plant-based foods.
According to a November 2015 review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vitamin C may protect against neurodegenerative disorders.
As the researchers note, this nutrient is highly concentrated in the brain and plays a vital role in homeostasis, the process by which your body maintains its internal environment. It protects the central nervous system from oxidative damage and regulates neuronal metabolism, which in turn, may help prevent Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Considering these facts, it's fair to say that cantaloupe is a superfood. Compared to other fruits, it's lower in calories and carbs, so it can make weight loss easier.
The Calories in Cantaloupe
Some dieters avoid fruits because of their high sugar content. While it's true that certain fruits, like pineapple, mango and banana are high in fructose, this isn't the case with cantaloupe. One serving provides:
- 47 calories
- 1.2 grams of protein
- 0.3 grams of fat
- 11.3 grams of carbs
- 1.2 grams of fiber
- 10.8 grams of sugars
- 56 percent of the DV of vitamin C
- 26 percent of the DV of vitamin A
- 3 percent of the DV of vitamin K
- 8 percent of the DV of potassium
- 4 percent of the DV of magnesium
- 6 percent of the DV of copper
- 26 percent of the DV of beta-carotene
Cantaloupe is also a good source of lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidants neutralize free radicals and support optimal health.
The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, for example, can be stored in the macula of the retina, according to a research paper published in the journal OCL - Oilseeds and Fats, Crops and Lipids in October 2015. Here they form a macular pigment that protects your eyes from blue light and oxidative damage. In the long run, they may reduce your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Another aspect that makes this fruit so appealing is its low calorie and carb content. One medium apple, by comparison, boasts 96 calories and 22.9 grams of carbs, while a peach, another popular summer fruit, has 57 calories and 14 grams of carbs per serving (5.1 ounces). Bananas provide about 112 calories and 28 grams of carbs per serving (4.4 ounces). Cantaloupe carbs are about 11.3 grams, which is significantly less.
Read more: Good Fruits to Eat to Lose Belly Fat
Cantaloupe Facilitates Weight Loss
As you see, the calories in cantaloupe are not a reason for concern. What you may not know is that this melon supports weight loss.
In a September 2012 study published in the journal Obesity, premenopausal overweight women who increased their water intake to more than 1 liter per day for 12 months experienced significant weight loss along with a reduction in fat mass and waist circumference. These improvements were associated with water consumption, regardless of the subject's activity levels and food intakes.
Cantaloupe is high in water, filling you up quickly. If you're trying to cut calories, eat a slice or two before lunch or between meals. This may help reduce hunger and make it easier to control your portions.
An October 2016 review featured in the journal Nutrients highlights the anti-obesity effects of fruits. Several studies conducted over the years suggest that fruit consumption may help prevent weight gain and obesity. As the review authors point out, these findings are quite surprising, since most fruits are high in sugar.
For example, a research paper published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition in May 2017 has linked whole fruit consumption to a lower risk for weight gain in middle-aged adults. Fruit juice has the opposite effect.
Scientists suggest that whole fruits may help in weight loss and weight maintenance by reducing total food intake. According to the Nutrients review_,_ fruits contain bioactive compounds that stimulate fat breakdown, increase satiety and cause positive changes in the gut microflora.
Read more: A Two-Week Fruit Diet
If you're struggling with hunger, consider drinking cantaloupe protein shakes between meals. Protein suppresses appetite and boosts your metabolism while preserving lean mass.
Just cut this fruit into large chunks and blend it with one scoop of vanilla protein powder and up to one cup of water, unsweetened soy milk or almond milk. Feel free to add low-fat yogurt, frozen berries or cottage cheese for extra flavor and nutrition.
Watermelon Versus Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe doesn't burn fat, but it can help you get leaner by reducing your energy intake. For example, you can use it as a substitute for bagels, chips, cookies and other snacks to cut back on carbs and stay full longer.
If you're craving sugar, make a refreshing fruit salad with cantaloupe, blueberries, strawberries, mint leaves and lime juice. Pour melted dark chocolate over it to boost your antioxidant intake.
Watermelon is just as healthy as cantaloupe but slightly higher in calories and carbs. One serving (9.8 ounces) provides 84 calories, 21.1 grams of carbs, 1.7 grams of protein, 1.1 grams of fiber and 17.5 grams of sugars. It's an excellent source of lycopene, a carotenoid that may protect against diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis and several types of cancer, including mouth, larynx, prostate and colon cancers.
Read more: Watermelon Diet Instructions
These fruits are similar from a nutritional standpoint. Choosing one over another comes down to your preferences. If you're following a low-carb diet, cantaloupe is a better option. Watermelon, on the other hand, is higher in protein and certain minerals like iron, magnesium, copper and manganese.
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Cantaloupe"
- USDA: Cucumis melo L. - Cantaloupe
- NCBI: "What Is Vitamin A and Why Do We Need It?"
- NIH: "Vitamin C"
- Dietitians of Canada: "Food Sources of Iron "
- MDPI: "Old Things New View: Ascorbic Acid Protects the Brain in Neurodegenerative Disorders"
- BCcampus Open Education: "Homeostasis"
- OCL Journal: "Why Lutein Is Important for the Eye and the Brain"
- American Optometric Association: "Lutein & Zeaxanthin"
- USDA: "Apple"
- USDA: "Peach"
- USDA: "Banana"
- Obesity: "Drinking Water Is Associated With Weight Loss in Overweight Dieting Women Independent of Diet and Activity"
- MDPI: "Paradoxical Effects of Fruit on Obesity"
- Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: "Fruit Consumption and Adiposity Status in Adults: A Systematic Review of Current Evidence"
- British Journal of Nutrition: "Dietary Protein – Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Dark Chocolate"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Watermelon"
- NCBI: "Watermelon Lycopene and Allied Health Claims"