Like other melons, cantaloupes have a high water content that can help fend off dehydration, but being packed with H2O doesn’t mean that they’re short on other nutritional benefits.
“This melon is a great choice when it comes to nutrients per calorie,” said Heather Mangieri, a Pittsburgh-based registered dietitian and nutritionist, author and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “One cup of cantaloupe contains only about 55 calories (due to its high water content) but offers over 100 percent of your daily needs for vitamin A, over 50 percent of the daily needs for vitamin C, 1.5 grams of fiber and is a good source of potassium.”
Furthermore, a 2006 study published in HortScience found that cantaloupes have even higher concentrations of the phytonutrient beta-carotene than oranges, even though oranges are brighter in color
“Vitamins A and C are both antioxidants that work to keep your body healthy,” said Mangieri. Antioxidants are molecules that safely interact with free radicals to stop the condition of oxidative stress, according to an article in Pharmacognosy Review.
Free radicals cause cell damage and disruption that can contribute to diseases. “[Antioxidants such as vitamins A and C] may help prevent conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis,” added Mangieri.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the relationship between fruit and vegetable intakes and the instances of metabolic syndrome in hundreds of Iranian women. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions (high blood sugar, excess fat around the waist, high cholesterol or triglyceride levels and high blood pressure) that occur at the same time. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. The study found that women who ate the highest concentrations of cantaloupe, apples, grapes, watermelon and bananas had the lowest risk of metabolic syndrome.
“Vitamin A is key for good vision,” said Mangieri. Through a complicated process in the eye, vitamin A (also called retinol) triggers an electrical signal in the optic nerve, causing the perception of colors and vision in dim light, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Vitamin A (acquired through phytonutrient beta-carotene) is associated with a reduced risk of macular degeneration.