THE PROOF: JUICE CANTALOUPES FOR BETTER EYES, DIGESTION, AND MORE

Juicing Cantaloupes: If It’s Orange, You Should Probably Eat More of It (Includes Recipe for Naturally Treating Crohn’s Disease)


Next to watermelons, kids crave cantaloupes! Especially in the summertime. It’s no wonder. The rich orange-pastel and sometimes almost pale salmon colors conjure visions of a Dreamsicle® but with distinctively bolder (and far more nutritious) flavors.

And, if you’ve been reading this blog faithfully, you know that bright colors mean flavonoids and antioxidants! (“Okay, Steve, we’re listening,” say you. “What else do they give us?”) Well, dear Reader, since you’ve asked, these bright-colored fruits contain zeaxanthin, lycopene, potassium, vitamin C and beta-carotene as a precursor to vitamin A-retinol.

While cantaloupes may not be as vibrant as, say, an orange, pomegranate or blueberry, remember that orange and yellow fruits and vegetables deliver massive amounts of carotenes (as in beta-carotene, aka vitamin A) and carotenoids (even more vitamin A). They also provide vitamin B1, B3 (niacin – important for our arteries) and B6 plus folate, magnesium, copper and even a bit of vitamin K.  This makes cantaloupe juice a tasty addition to any juicing program seeking to improve the eyes or reduce inflammation. “What?” you say, “reduce inflammation?” That’s right, my friend!

 While most of you may know from childhood that vitamin A is great for eyes (‘memba Bugs Bunny and his carrots?), as an adult you may have learned that vitamin A spread in the macular nerve is measured as an indicator of eye health (thus preventing macular degeneration), and this is partially due to that fact that vitamin A reduces inflammation.

I’m going to get kind of technical here, so bear with me. Studies show that carotenoids inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-8 and block oxidative stress. This means that they keep the body from causing its own inflammation response to injury.

Other research suggests that carotenoids are great for healthy skin (they help prevent UV damage), and they may even protect against prostate, head and neck cancers (due to cucurbitacins). Meanwhile, the organic acids ferulic and caffeic acid are both potent anti-aging agents.

That’s right! Cantaloupes clearly aren’t just for kids anymore, but they may help keep you looking like one longer!

STEVE’S FAVORITE JUICE RECIPE

Because I have Crohn’s Disease — an inflammatory disease of the intestines — I spent years searching for ways to reduce inflammation without upsetting my stomach (and without taking the prescription drugs prednisone or infliximab). In 2016, I modified a few recipes and found what works for me! I want to share it with you here because this juice is my personal cure (along with other healthy life choices — especially dietary choices). As always, cold-pressed is best!

  • 1/4 Cantaloupe
  • 1 Nectarine
  • 1 Large Carrot
  • ½ Medium-Sized Stem of Aloe Vera

Why this blend? Because a cantaloupe’s beta-carotene content can be as high as 3,138 micrograms per 100 grams of fresh weight, so it is the core of this juice and, incidentally, that’s just about the most of any fruit I could locate online. I add other fruits and vegetables that also are high in beta-carotene, which are the carrots and nectarines. And that fresh aloe in the recipe? Well, it has a calming effect on the digestive tract, and I’ll talk about that in a future blog.

If you combine this juice with cooked jewel-sized sweet potatoes and butternut squash, I bet you’ll be full, and your digestive tract will calm down and love you for it. A little tip: If you’re having a Crohn’s disease flare-up, eat slowly.

OH, BY THE WAY … HERE’S A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE CANTALOUPE

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. When I started researching cantaloupes, some conflicting articles really confused me. Here’s why: the cantaloupes you’ve been eating most of your life? You know, the ones you buy at the grocery store and eat in “fruit plates”? They’re actually muskmelons (aka Persian melons) and are closely related to honeydew melons and watermelons.

“True cantaloupes” are enjoyed throughout the Mediterranean especially. In fact, the cantaloupe gets its name from a town near Rome, Cantaloupo (of course)! But, here in the U.S., muskmelons are the most common.

The clearest visual difference is in the grooving of the rind. Mediterranean cantaloupes have less of the familiar net-patterns but have far more ribbing (as you can see in the market photo).

Don’t worry … while chances are you haven’t been eating cantaloupe at all, I’ve written this article to conform to the good-ol’ U.S.A.’s muskmelon-cantaloupe!

THE GRAND FINALE: 6 MORE REASONS TO EAT CANTALOUPE

  1. Promotes healthy cholesterol and blood pressure.
  2. Promotes collagen formation.
  3. Promotes proper pH balance.
  4. Promotes a health immune system.
  5. Promotes proper metabolic function.
  6. Promotes the alleviation of diabetes-induced oxidative stress.

HERE’S WHERE YOU CAN HELP…

For two years, I’ve scoured the internet seeking sources that can back up the health and benefit claims of fruits, vegetables, and supplements (sometimes called “boost”).  

In the chart below are the health claims I and others have discovered about cantaloupe. Where you see a footnote, you’ll find a link to the source.  If there is not a footnote, then that means that the specific health claim is made, but neither I nor anyone I know has been able to locate sources of research or credible anecdotes to back up the claim.

So, if you are aware of a direct source of research or anecdotes to back up the claims, please post them in the comments.  I’ll check them out and if they meet our standards, I’ll make sure that they’re included in the next edition of the blog and give you a shout-out!

Reported Health Benefit Claims of Cantaloupe:

Anti-coagulant [5]

Prevents diabetes [4][11]

Anti-inflammatory [5][9][11]

Prevents heart disease

Antioxidant [2][5][6][9]

Improves immune system [2][5][11]

Prevents arteriosclerorsis [2]

Helps promote healty pregnancy [2][11]

Lowers blood pressure [11]

Promotes skin health [11]

Prevents some forms for cancer [1][2][11][12]

Relieves stress [5]

Prevents cataracts[2][5][7]

Improves hydration [11]

Lowers cholesterol

Sources:

  1. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/ (vitamin a)
  2. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/carotenoids
  3. https://ucdavis.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/provitamin-a-and-vitamin-c-contents-in-selected-california-grown-
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16179750
  5. https://oawhealth.com/2015/02/08/health-benefits-cantaloupe/
  6. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/301506.php
  7. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/70/4/509.short
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3380595/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15261965
  10. Napier AB, Crosby KM and Park SO. Identifying Molecular Markers Correlating with High Beta-carotene Content in Muskmelon. HortScience, Jul 2006; 41: 1049.
  11. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-cantaloupe.html
  12. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/patients-families/health-matters/september-2015/5-food-factors-to-lower-prostate-cancer-risk.aspx