The health benefits of muskmelon or cantaloupe include supply of essential vitamins and minerals, good source of antioxidants, offers eye protection, offers liver protection, provides remedy against ulcers and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Muskmelon is one of the sweet fruits that you can find during summers. This is a vining plant and it belongs to the cucumber and melon family. Muskmelon is also known by the name Cantaloupe. Muskmelon plant usually grows during the summer. It is generally noted that muskmelon takes a lot of time to grow a seed to a flowering plant.
Muskmelons can grow in most places. Generally, muskmelon is grown in tropics around the world. Muskmelon belongs to Cucurbitaceae family or the cucumber family which includes cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins, squashes and watermelons. The plant is thought to have originated either in India or Africa. The name Cantaloupe is more popular in the US than muskmelon. But, it is said that true cantaloupe is different from the popular cantaloupe. In fact, the name cantaloupe comes from an Italian name Cantalupo.
Nutrition in Muskmelon or Cantaloupe
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the nutrition found in muskmelon or cantaloupe includes
|Nutritional Component||Value per 100 g||Nutritional Component||Value per 100 g|
|Energy||34 kcal||Carbohydrates||8.16 g|
|Sugars||7.86 g||Dietary Fiber||0.9 g|
|Fat||0.19 g||Protein||0.34 g|
|Calcium||9 mg||Iron||0.21 mg|
|Magnesium||12 mg||Manganese||0.41 mg|
|Phosphorus||15 mg||Potassium||267 mg|
|Sodium||16 mg||Zinc||0.18 mg|
|Vitamin A||169 ug||Thiamin||0.041 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.019 mg||Niacin||0.734 mg|
|Pantothenic Acid||0.105 mg||Vitamin B 6||0.073 mg|
|Folate||21 ug||Vitamin C||36.7 mg|
|Vitamin K||2.5 ug|
Is it okay to give muskmelon to my baby?
Muskmelon can be introduced to your baby between the ages of 8-10 months. Generally, muskmelon is safe to be given to infants, but in some cases, there lies a risk of introducing muskmelon (cantaloupe) because it is listed among allergy causing fruit. So, if your family has a history of allergies (in parents, ancestors or the baby’s siblings), please avoid cantaloupe.
Health benefits of muskmelon or cantaloupe for babies
Here are some of the health benefits of cantaloupe for babies
One of the good sources of vitamins: Cantaloupe is a good source of essential vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, etc. Each of these vitamins has an important role to play in your baby’s overall development including neuro and physical.
Good for eyesight: Muskmelon contains zea-xanthin, a carotenoid. This carotenoids is helpful in protecting against harmful UV radiation entering into the eyes in both children and adults. In the elderly, it offers protection against Age Related Macular Disease.
Supplies antioxidants: As many fruits, cantaloupe or muskmelon is also a good source of antioxidants. These antioxidants serve as neutralizing agents for free radicals often produced during metabolism. A diet rich in antioxidants is essential for sustaining a disease-free body.
Remedy for gastric ulcers: Infants and children suffer from acidity. Cantaloupe is a good way to reduce the acidity in infants and children. Studies indicate that it is helpful in controlling acidity. It strengthens the inner walls of the stomach against the acids produced in the stomach. Cantaloupe is not only recommended for infants and children, but even for adults as well.
Offers liver protection: One of the properties of cantaloupe is protecting liver. Infants and children can sometimes get liver diseases such as jaundice and hepatitis. These diseases can damage liver and giving cantaloupe to your baby can help in protecting the liver.
Has immuno-modulatory properties: Another property of muskmelon or cantaloupe is that it has immuno-modulatory properties. It helps in strengthening the immune system of your child. Cantaloupe particularly has been noted to increase the numbers of Tcells or T Lymphocytes.
Has anti-inflammatory properties: Muskmelon also has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammations can occur due to harmful stimulation, cell damage and due to irritants. Some of these inflammations can be reduced by taking muskmelon.
Measures while giving Muskmelon or Cantaloupe
Here are some of the measures to be taken while giving Muskmelon or Cantaloupe for your infants and toddlers.
Selecting the right cantaloupe: Some people find difficulty in finding the right cantaloupe. Sometimes it can be too ripe and sometimes it’s not ripe at all. So, there are some hard and fast rules to identify the right muskmelon. You need to check the colour. Don’t go for those which are too dark. Light colored melons are better. When you hold it in your hand, a ripe melon will neither be too soft or too hard. Ripe melon can also give out a sweet smell as well.
Storage and usage: If you’re buying the melons only for your baby, then buying a big melon might not be a good idea. Cutting out a small piece and putting the rest in the refrigerator can actually spoil the fruit. Instead, go for smaller fruits, if possible. You can use it once or twice and that’s it. A ripe muskmelon will be easy enough to be peeled and cut into small chunks. Make sure that you remove the seeds before cutting it into smaller chunks. If your baby is too young to have teeth, then you can always mash it up.
Allergies: Muskmelon or cantaloupe is known to give out allergic reactions (not severe though). So, if your family has a history of any food borne allergies, please be careful while giving muskmelon or cantaloupe. First contact your pediatrician and know whether your baby is allergic to any foods. If yes, to what kinds of fruits. Your baby can outgrow some of those allergies in few years. Till then, be very careful about the foods that you introduce into your baby’s diet.