Cantaloupe health benefit, source of vitamin A
June 24 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.


Cantaloupe is a fruit that is a good source of beta-carotene and also a good source of potassium and Vitamin C. Cantaloupes are available year round with the peak season from June through August. California, Arizona, and Texas provide the majority of the U.S. cantaloupe crop. Although cantaloupes have become increasingly available throughout the year, their season runs from June through August when they are at their best.


Picking a cantaloupe, when is it ready to eat?
Since cantaloupes have no starch reserves to convert to sugar, they will not ripen further once they have left the vine. They're picked when they are ripe but still firm, to protect them during shipping. Invariably, some are picked too early, so it is important to know the characteristics of a ripe cantaloupe. Cantaloupes may be football shaped or spherical, and while it's natural for the melon to be slightly bleached on one side from lying on the ground as it grew, it should not be flattened or lopsided.

Varieties of Cantaloupe
The melon that Americans call cantaloupe -- the most popular melon in the United States -- is actually a muskmelon. True cantaloupe comes from Europe and has a rough, warty surface quite unlike the netted rind of our familiar fruit. The khaki-colored skin of an American cantaloupe has green undertones that ripen to yellow or cream.


Nutritional Content of Cantaloupe and benefit

Cantaloupe as an excellent source of vitamin A on account of its concentrated beta-carotene content. Once inside the body, beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A, so when you eat cantaloupe it's like getting both these beneficial nutrients at once. Cantaloupe is also an excellent source of vitamin C. Makes sure you include cantaloupe in your diet at least once a month.

Unless the melon is cut, the only clue to ripeness is the condition of the rind. Cantaloupes should be slightly golden.


Storing a Cantaloupe
You can improve the eating quality of a firm, uncut cantaloupe by leaving it at room temperature for two to four days; the fruit will not become sweeter, but it will turn softer and juicier. If during that time the cantaloupe has not reached its peak ripeness, it was picked immature and will not be worth eating. Once ripened (or cut), cantaloupe should be refrigerated and used within about two days. Enclose cut pieces in plastic bags to protect other produce in the refrigerator from the ethylene gas that the melons give off. Ripe cantaloupe is also very fragrant, and the aroma of a cut melon can penetrate other foods.


Salmonella Risk with Cantaloupes from Agropecuaria Montelibano
In March 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert regarding entry of cantaloupe from Agropecuaria Montelibano, a Honduran grower and packer, because, based on current information, fruit from this company appears to be associated with a Salmonella Litchfield outbreak in the United States and Canada. To date, the FDA has received reports of 50 illnesses in 16 states and nine illnesses in Canada linked to the consumption of cantaloupes. No deaths have been reported; however, 14 people have been hospitalized. Individuals who have recently eaten cantaloupe and experienced any of these symptoms should contact their health care professional.

Reduce the risk of contracting Salmonella or other foodborne illnesses from cantaloupes:
Purchase cantaloupes that are not bruised or damaged. If buying fresh-cut cantaloupe, be sure it is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
After purchase, refrigerate cantaloupes promptly.
Wash hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling fresh cantaloupes.
Scrub whole cantaloupes by using a clean produce brush and cool tap water immediately before eating. Don't use soap or detergents.
Use clean cutting surfaces and utensils when cutting cantaloupes. Wash cutting boards, countertops, dishes, and utensils with hot water and soap between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, or seafood and the preparation of cantaloupe.
If there happens to be a bruised or damaged area on a cantaloupe, cut away those parts before eating it.
Leftover cut cantaloupe should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than three hours.
Use a cooler with ice or use ice gel packs when transporting or storing cantaloupes outdoors.