As we’re getting back into the warmer months, fruit like honeydew is becoming increasingly popular.
After all, there is little better than a cool and refreshing piece of fruit when the temperature outside is warm.
But, there’s much more to honeydew than just a refreshing fruit.
Like most fruits, honeydew can act as a key source of nutrients.
Likewise, there is even a range of health benefits of honeydew – which make the fruit an especially important addition to the diet.
Health Benefits of Honeydew
The first thing to consider about honeydew is the nutrients that it offers. In particular, honeydew acts as a key source of vitamin C, and also contains potassium and vitamin A, along with the antioxidants beta-carotene and zeaxanthin (1,2).
As you may already know, each of these nutrients is pretty important for health.
To start off with, honeydew contains a number of significant antioxidants. As I mentioned, this includes beta carotene and zeaxanthin, but vitamin C itself is also another antioxidant.
The term antioxidant is used a lot and it basically refers to the ability to inhibit oxidation. Now, oxidation is a biological process that changes the charge of a molecule. In general, the process is safe and important.
However, some oxidation can cause molecules to lose electrons, which can then become something known as a free radical. Free radicals have the potential to cause issues throughout the body, including damage to DNA.
We do need oxidation and free radicals in our bodies but we also need a balance. If the amount of free radicals is too high, then this causes a state called oxidative stress, which is associated with the development of disease and other health issues.
For example, oxidative stress is thought to play a significant role in the development of kidney disease for patients with diabetes (3), has been associated with vascular diseases (4) and with a range of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease (5,6,7).
To get around this, we need to make sure we are getting enough antioxidants through our diet – and honeydew is one key source of these antioxidants. In fact, research suggests that food is more powerful than supplements at fighting oxidation, which suggests that we should be focusing on getting our antioxidants through healthy food choices (8).
Additionally, some of the antioxidant compounds in honeydew are associated with other benefits.
For example, zeaxanthin is associated with improvements in eye health and with protecting the eyes in general (9,10). Likewise, beta carotene is significant because it is biologically converted to vitamin A and vitamin A is significant for immune function, development, vision and other functions (12).
The last significant compound in honeydew is potassium. Now, honeydew doesn’t contain a large amount of potassium (1 cup of honeydew balls gives you 12% of your daily potassium requirement) (15). However, the potassium is still important because a lot of people simply don’t enough potassium.
Furthermore, getting insufficient potassium is associated with health problems, including high blood pressure (16,17). So, finding ways to get enough potassium into our diets is important for our overall health.
Sugar and Fiber
Like most other fruit, honeydew does contain a relatively high amount of sugars and also contains some fiber. That fiber is important because it helps to balance out the impacts of the sugar, meaning that your blood sugar doesn’t spike from eating honeydew.
Most fruits are considered a low glycemic index (GI) food, which makes them a perfect choice for people with diabetes or anyone who wants a slow release of energy. Figuring out the GI for foods can sometimes be a little tricky, as scientific research hasn’t been conducted for every type of food.
However, the American Diabetes Association does note that melons (and pineapple) can be considered high GI foods, with a GI of 70 or more (18) and a similar result is also true for watermelon specifically (19).
Nevertheless, the fruit does contain relatively little carbohydrate per serving, which means that the impact on blood sugar will be fairly low despite the GI (20). This can be seen by the way that melons (and pineapple) are relatively high in terms of their GI, but they have a low glycemic load (21,22), which is an indication of how much a food will raise blood sugar. So, the GI of honeydew isn’t something you need to be too concerned with.
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Health Benefits of Honeydew
As with many fruits, the health benefits of honeydew are really connected to the nutrients that it contains, particularly the fact that it is a significant source of antioxidants. There have also been relatively few studies that have specifically looked at the health benefits of honeydew – so there is still a lot that we do not know.
Nevertheless, we do know that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables is a key component in promoting overall health and decreasing disease risk (23,24). Some researchers also suggest that melons (including honeydew) may be a particularly valuable addition to the diet because of the nutrients that they contain (25).
At the same time, honeydew is important because, like other melons, it contains a decent amount of water. This water can help you stay hydrated, especially on hot days.
Water is actually much more important than people assume, partly because much of the population may not consume enough water (26). Water can also help you to feel full (27), which helps to make honeydew an especially satisfying snack.
Honeydew offers a wide variety of nutrients, many of which are associated with health benefits. This makes it an important overall addition to the diet.
Honeydew versus Cantaloupe
While we’re on the topic of honeydew, it’s worth talking about cantaloupe in passing as well, because the two fruits really are similar. In fact, there are a lot of similarities between the different varieties of melons overall and they can offer a refreshing source of nutrients.
In terms of appearance and taste, honeydew has light green flesh with a smooth skin. It also tends to be the sweetest melon and is quite juicy. In contrast, cantaloupe has peach- or salmon-colored flesh and has light brown rind.
Cantaloupe doesn’t tend to be as juicy or as sweet as honeydew.
Nevertheless, in most cases, people end up preferring one type of melon over the other on the basis of personal preference. In the United States, cantaloupe tends to be more popular. One reason for this may be simply that honeydew is frequently served when it is underripe or out of season (28). Because of this, many people don’t actually know how good honeydew can taste.
Nutritionally, both fruits offer comparable amounts of most compounds, including the various plant phytonutrients, although cantaloupe does contain more vitamin C and more of the antioxidant beta-carotene (29,30,31).
Nevertheless, saying that one fruit is healthier than another isn’t particularly realistic, especially when the difference between these fruits really only comes down to two key nutrients. Instead, it’s more important to note that both of these melons are healthy, like many other fruits and vegetables.
As such, the best approach is to work on including a variety of nutritious and healthy food in your diet. At the end of the day, this is the best way to get health benefits as each type of food has its own unique combination of nutrients.
Perception of Honeydew
Views on honeydew really do tend to be split.
There are certainly some people out there that love the fruit, especially in the warm months where it can be especially refreshing. But, as I mentioned before, honeydew tends to be much less popular than cantaloupe.
In fact, hotels and grocery stores often have problems getting people to buy the fruit.
This issue actually reminds me a little bit of the problems that surround prunes. Just like honeydew, prunes are good for you and offer a surprising number of health benefits. But, they suffer from a problem of reputation and often get passed over because of how people view them.
With honeydew, people often simply don’t buy the fruit because they imagine that it doesn’t taste any good (32). Nevertheless, it really is worth taking the time to try honeydew.
The melon might not be to everyone’s taste but people often find that they do enjoy honeydew once they sit down and try it.
So, when it comes to the honeydew, it’s worth taking a chance and trying the fruit, regardless of what you previously thought about it.
Honeydew might not be as popular as some other fruits but it really is worth trying - you might find that you are pleasantly surprised.
Honeydew is often overlooked as a fruit but it really shouldn’t be. Not only is it a sweet and refreshing treat but honeydew is also a good source of a number of key nutrients and antioxidants.
This makes it an important addition to any diet.
At the same time, honeydew can be a great way to vary up the fruit that you eat in the warmer months, especially as it is fairly inexpensive and is readily available.
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What about you, are you a fan of honeydew?