Cantaloupe grows naturally in the continents of Africa and Asia. According to a study published in the 2008 issue of “World Applied Sciences Journal," records show that the cultivation of cantaloupes started in 2400 B.C. Many people eat cantaloupe because of its juicy, tasty flavor. Some people even use it as an appetizer and as an ingredient for desserts and salads.
As mentioned by the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health, cantaloupe serves as good source of folate, an important water-soluble B-vitamin micronutrient needed for healthy growth and maintenance of cells within the body and for the prevention of anemia. In fact, folate deficiency may lead to intrauterine growth retardation in newborns, increased risk for brain and nerve congenital defects and stunted growth in infants and children. Pregnant women, women of childbearing age, alcoholics, patients taking anti-convulsant medications and those having nutritional anemia are advised to increase their folate intake to prevent health complications associated with folate deficiency.
Cantaloupes contain carotenoids, the yellow, orange and sometimes reddish pigment synthesized by plants. According to Linus Pauling Institute, the increased intake of carotenoids from fruits, such as cantaloupes, can decrease a patient’s risk for the development of cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer. Furthermore, two forms of carotenoid -- lutein and zeaxanthin -- are much needed for the proper functioning and vision of the eyes. In fact, as mentioned by Linus Pauling Institute, deficiency in lutein and zeaxanthin may increase a patient’s risk for the development of age-related macular degeneration -- the most common cause of blindness -- and cataract, the clouding of the lens of the eye.
Cantaloupe serves as a rich source of vitamin C, an essential water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the growth and repair of tissues within the body. It also helps in forming collagen, an important protein needed for making skin tissues, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, a type of nutrient that blocks the action of free radicals which lead to early aging.
Cantaloupes also have potassium, an important mineral needed for almost all the processes within the human body. Potassium is an electrolyte, a mineral that conducts electricity within the body together with sodium, calcium and magnesium. Potassium plays a very important role in muscle and heart contraction and blood pressure control. It is also essential for the normal function of the gastrointestinal tract.