Honeydew: 10 Honeydew Benefits + How to Choose a Ripe Melon
Although it’s often confused with cantaloupe — or just called “melon” so not to make a distinction — honeydew is actually a nutrient-rich, hydrating, low-calorie and deliciously sweet fruit. It may have a reputation as the tasteless melon, and sometimes when it’s mindlessly added to a fruit salad it may be the only fruit left standing.
But when honeydew melon is picked from the vine when it’s mature and cut open when it’s ripe, the flavor is there. In fact, it’s known to be the sweetest of all melons in the grocery store.
On top of that, it is a great source of health-promoting nutrients, including vitamin C (providing over 40 percent of your daily value), B vitamins, potassium and magnesium. It’s a low-calorie food that provides fiber, water and a little sweetness that can help to satisfy those afternoon sugar cravings that you’ve been fighting — and that’s not all.
10 Honeydew Benefits
- Great Source of Vitamin C
- Low in Calories and Helps Weight Loss
- Boosts Skin Health
- Good Source of Fiber
- Helps You to Stay Hydrated
- Provides Potassium
- Supports Brain Function
- Helps to Boost the Immune System
- Promotes Heart Health
- Has Cancer-Protective Effects
1. Great Source of Vitamin C
A cup of honeydew contains over 40 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin C. This means that it is an excellent source of antioxidants that help to reduce the risk of inflammation and disease. Eating vitamin C foods, like fruits and vegetables, can help to improve your immunity, boost the health of your skin, improve your heart health and improve inflammatory conditions.
The vitamin C found in honeydew also plays an important role in a number of metabolic functions, like the activation of folic acid and conversion of cholesterol to bile acids. Vitamin C benefits serious conditions like diabetes, atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative disease and cancer. (1)
2. Low in Calories and Helps Weight Loss
Not only is honeydew low in calories, containing only 64 in one cup, but it’s the sweetest of all melon varieties. You can fulfill that craving for something sweet by snacking on some honeydew, while still sticking to your daily calorie goals.
High-volume, low-calorie foods like this fruit serve as the perfect snacks or additions to meals when you are trying to lose or maintain weight. Plus, because honeydew is a good source of important nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium and B vitamins, you know that you’re staying well-nourished, which can sometimes be an issue when you’re following a low-calorie diet.
3. Boosts Skin Health
The carotenoids and vitamin C found in honeydew make the fruit beneficial for your skin. Studies show that vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis and assists in antioxidant protection against UV-induced skin damage. Vitamin C also plays a role in wound healing, skin elasticity and general skin repair. (2)
Adding honeydew melon and other fruits and vegetables containing good amounts of vitamin C promotes glowing, even-toned and healthy skin.
4. Good Source of Fiber
One cup of honeydew contains 1.4 grams of fiber, which we need to help regulate digestion and cholesterol levels. Why is a high-fiber diet so important? Because it passes through your digestive system and, along the way, takes with it wastes, toxins, fat and cholesterol particles.
Eating fiber improves the health of your gut and aids your digestive system, keeping you regular. Honeydew contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which means that it will actually make you feel full longer and add bulk to your stool, helping to ease issues like constipation. (3)
5. Helps You to Stay Hydrated
Approximately 90 percent of honeydew is made up of water — so eating a cup or two of this low-calorie fruit will not only make you feel full, because of its fiber content and because you can eat a bigger volume without going over your calorie goals, but it will also help you to stay hydrated. (4) That’s why it is an excellent snack on hot summer days or after a workout.
6. Provides Potassium
A cup of honeydew contains about 9 percent of your daily value of potassium, which is awesome considering that potassium is an essential nutrient for electrolyte balance in the body and helps decrease muscle cramps, reduce your risk of stroke and even alleviate high blood pressure.
Eating potassium-rich foods can also help to increase bone density and ward off conditions affecting your bones, like osteoporosis. (5)
7. Supports Brain Function
Honeydew is a good source of both vitamin B6 and folate, two B vitamins that are important for brain development and function. Low folate and vitamin B6 levels are associated with poor cognitive function and can increase your risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. (6)
Plus, these B vitamins help to improve your mood. Vitamin B6 helps to make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine — your “happy hormones” that control your mood, ability to concentrate and energy levels. Research shows that preventing or reversing a folate deficiency can reduce your risk of developing mood disorders like depression. (7)
8. Helps to Boost the Immune System
Honeydew is a great source of vitamin C, which contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions against pathogens that can make us sick.
Vitamin C also promotes oxidant scavenging activity in the skin, protecting us against environmental oxidative stress. When we don’t get enough vitamin C in our diets, it can result in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. So by adding honeydew and other foods rich in vitamin C to your diet, you are naturally boosting your immune system. (8)
9. Promotes Heart Health
Studies show that higher carotenoid intake is associated with significant reductions in the risk of cardiovascular disease. The carotenoids found in honeydew are beneficial for protecting our arteries against inflammation, blockages and free radical damage.
Research also shows that carotenoids (like the beta-carotene found in honeydew) may also help to lower blood pressure, reduce non-HDL plasma cholesterol levels, prevent atherosclerosis, reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines and improve insulin sensitivity. (9)
10. Has Cancer-Protective Effects
Honeydew melon is a source of carotenoids like beta-carotene that have anti-inflammatory and cancer-protective effects. Diets high in carotenoids are beneficial for a number of reasons, including preventing UV light damage that can lead to melanoma and reducing oxidative stress, a critical factor of the pathogenic process of many chronic disorders, including cancer. (10)
On top of this, carotenoids found in honeydew have chemoprotective properties, helping to protect healthy tissue from the harmful side effects that are caused by some anticancer drugs. (11)
What Is Honeydew?
Honeydew, a creamy yellowish and oval shaped fruit, is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes other vine-growing foods like cucumbers, squash, pumpkin and watermelon, and its scientific name is Cucumis melo. Its peak growing season is in the late summer through early winter, which is later than its cousin cantaloupe.
Honeydew can be described as sweet, luscious and juicy. It has a distinct aroma, especially when it’s ripe, that has fresh and sweet-floral characters. Honeydew melon is typically about six to nine inches long and generally weighs four to eight pounds.
The flesh of a honeydew melon is usually pale green, and the peel ranges in color from a creamy yellow to green. Most of the honeydew melons you see in your local supermarket come from California, where they are in season from August until October.
This melon contains carotenoids, including beta-carotene and phytoene, that are responsible for many of the fruit’s health benefits, like its ability to reduce inflammation, inhibit oxidative stress and boost cardiovascular health.
It’s an excellent source of vitamin C and contains other important nutrients that allow for the proper function of our immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems. Eating honeydew melon can even help to boost our cognitive health and prevent mood disorders, like depression.
Honeydew is a low-calorie fruit that serves as a source of fiber and vitamin C. It’s also a good source of potassium, B vitamins and magnesium.
A one-cup serving (about 177 grams) of honeydew contains about: (12)
- 63.7 calories
- 16.1 grams carbohydrates
- 1 gram protein
- 0.2 gram fat
- 1.4 grams fiber
- 31.9 milligrams vitamin C (53 percent DV)
- 404 milligrams potassium (12 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram vitamin B6 (8 percent DV)
- 33.6 micrograms folate (8 percent DV)
- 5.1 micrograms vitamin K (6 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram thiamine (4 percent DV)
- 0.7 milligram niacin (4 percent DV)
- 17.7 milligrams magnesium (4 percent DV)
In addition, this melon contains vitamin A, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Honeydew vs. Cantaloupe
Honeydew and cantaloupe are both melon fruits that belong to the Cucurbitaceae family. They both provide free radical scavenging antioxidants and a number of health promoting vitamins and minerals. Both fruits contain vitamins A, C and K and minerals like potassium, folate, niacin, thiamine and magnesium. But melon to melon, cantaloupe packs a bigger nutritious punch.
A one-cup serving of cantaloupe contains less calories (54 calories in cantaloupe vs. 64 in honeydew), more vitamins A and C, more potassium, more B vitamins, and more magnesium.
That being said, both cantaloupe and honeydew boast a range of health benefits, including their ability to boost cardiovascular health, promote healthy skin, boost the immune system, aid digestion and protect cognitive health.
Plus, both melons are on the Environmental Working Group’s list of the “clean 15,” which is a list of the produce that’s least likely to be contaminated by pesticides, as opposed to the “dirty dozen” that are the most likely to be contaminated.
Here’s a difference between the two melons — honeydew and cantaloupe have different peak months, with cantaloupe having a peak season between April through August and honeydew’s season beginning in August and lasting until October.
Although a ripe honeydew is known to have a sweeter taste, honeydew melons are sometimes picked before they have matured and they won’t mature off the vine, so that leaves them tasting pretty bland. For that reason, people often believe that cantaloupe is the tastier melon.
Where to Find and How to Use Honeydew
It’s easy to find honeydew melon in your local grocery store or even at a farmer’s market. The best time to buy honeydews is during the fruit’s peak growing season, in the late summer and fall.
When shopping for this fruit, look for melons with a pale cream or creamy white rind — these are the melons that are close to being ripe enough to eat. If the skin, or rind, of the honeydew has any greenness, it’s not fully ripened yet.
Also, when choosing a honeydew at the store, look for one that feels too heavy for its size. This means that it’s full of juice and mature enough to ripen naturally. Sometimes, farmers pick the melons too soon, when they haven’t matured, and they will never ripen — leaving them basically inedible. A sign that honeydews are ready to be picked is when they turn a yellowish color.
How else can you tell if honeydew is ripe? Don’t cut into it until you smell the melon’s sweet aroma. If you don’t smell the honeydew aroma yet, let it sit out on your kitchen counter for another day or two, until the fruit’s fragrance becomes noticeable.
You can also try touching the fruit to determine whether or not it’s ripe. Gently press on the opposite end of the stem. If the melon yields a little and then bounces straight back, that’s a sign that its ripe.
If your honeydew seems ripe but you aren’t ready to eat it yet, keep it whole in the refrigerator for five to seven days. In room temperature, it should be eaten within two to four days after it’s ripe. Once you cut into the melon, you can store it in an air-tight container for two to three days.
The most common way to consume honeydew is eating it fresh as a sweet and hydrating snack, but there are other ways to incorporate this melon into your meals. It can be cubed and added to a yogurt parfait, cottage cheese, salad or smoothie.
Honeydew even adds a nice sweetness to chicken salad, salsa and chilled soups, and people commonly pair the fruit with salty meats, like prosciutto. Try adding honeydew to my Fall Chicken Salad recipe in place of or along with the grapes.
Here are a few more honeydew recipes to try:
- Honeydew Melon in Coconut Milk
- Honeydew Sorbet
- Spicy & Savory Sweet Honeydew Melon
Honeydew is thought to have originated in the Middle Eastern or Western Asian area, but the exact place of origin is unknown. It’s believed that the Egyptians considered it a sacred fruit because of its sweet and juicy flavor.
It wasn’t until the 15th century that it was grown in Europe, and Spanish explorers are said to have introduced the melon’s seeds to California. Today, California produces the majority of honeydews sold in the United States. (13)
There are two types of honeydew: White honeydew has smooth, white skin and pale green flesh, and yellow honeydew has golden skin and green flesh. The white honeydews are said to be sweeter because they have a higher sugar content.
According to the ASPCA, honeydew is non-toxic and safe for dogs, cats and horses to eat. (14)
- Honeydew, a creamy yellowish and oval shaped fruit, is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes other vine-growing foods like cucumbers, squash, pumpkin and watermelon.
- It is known to be the sweetest of all melons, and it has a distinct aroma, especially when it’s ripe, that has fresh and sweet-floral characters.
- This melon contains carotenoids, including beta-carotene and phytoene, and it’s a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, folate, magnesium, thiamine and vitamin K.
- Benefits of this melon include its ability to help with weight loss, skin health, hydration, brain function, immunity, heart health and even protection against certain cancers.
- To detect whether or not a melon is ripe and ready to eat, look for melons that have a pale cream rind, feel too heavy for their size and have a noticeable sweet smell.
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