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Honeydew Acts as a Surprisingly Good Source of Nutrients

Young woman eating honeydew

​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 ​source of nutrients - this is clear from the honeydew nutrition facts. ​There is also a range of health benefits of honeydew, which make the fruit an especially important choice.

​Nutrients in Honeydew

Honeydew melon

​Honeydew acts as a key source of vitamin C, and also contains potassium and vitamin A, along with beta-carotene and zeaxanthin (1,2). ​These compounds are ​important for health.

The full nutritional breakdown can ​be seen in the table below.

Nutrition Facts: ​Melons, honeydew (100 grams)

Amount

Calories

​36

Total Fat

​0.1 g

Carbs

​9.1 g

Sugar

​8.1 g

Fiber

​0.8 g

Protein

​0.5 g

​Vitamin C

18 mg (​30% DV)

​Potassium

​228 mg (7% DV)

​Folate

​19.0 mcg (5% DV)

Vitamin A

50 IU (1% DV)

​As you can see, honeydew is low in calories, ​making it ideal for weight loss. This is partly because it contains a significant amount of water. 

​Antioxidants

To start off with, honeydew contains a number of significant antioxidants. ​This includes beta carotene and zeaxanthin, but vitamin C itself is also another antioxidant.

​Why Antioxidants Matter

​The term antioxidant is used a lot and it basically refers to the ability to inhibit oxidation. Oxidation itself is important, but some oxidation can cause ​the production of damaging free radicals. 

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. ​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)

​Some of the antioxidant compounds in honeydew are associated with other benefits.

  • ​​Zeaxanthin is associated with improvements in eye health and with protecting the eyes in general (9,10).
  • ​​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).
  • ​​Vitamin C has been associated with the function of your immune system (13) and with skin health (14)

​Potassium

​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, along with ​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 as much from eating honeydew.

​Glycemic Index and 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). In fact, ​honeydew is ​low enough in carbs that sites like Ketogenic Diet Resource often consider it to be a low carb fruit.

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)​. ​The glycemic load 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.

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 versus Cantaloupe

Honeydew and canteloupe

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.

​Appearance and Flavor

​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.

​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.

​Nutrient Differences

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 into 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

Honeydew on Black

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, ​​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.

Besides that, there are some amazing recipes that use honeydew. For example, the site Paleo Grubs offers 20 different dishes that you can try out. 

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.

Final Thoughts

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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