You've probably heard some people say fruits are bad for people with diabetes because they're sweet and also sources of carbohydrates, but that's not entirely true. While it a true that despite the many health benefits fruits have, some have high sugar, but not all. Some fruits have low sugar content, while some have less sugar content than others. These fruits both have nutritional benefits while satisfying your sweet tooth; one of such fruits is cantaloupe.
Cantaloupes are a species of melon musk, and they are of two different varieties, the North American cantaloupe, Cucumis melo reticulatus, and the European cantaloupe-Cucumis Melo Cantalupensis. Both have distinct features, they are both orange-skinned and nutritious, but the North American variant's skin has the geometric structure of a net, while the European skin is slightly ribbed.
Many studies have revealed that the cantaloupe has a lot of immediate and long-term benefits with a lot of nutrients beneficial to people with diabetes. That doesn't mean it is going to treat diabetes though
Nutritional Facts of Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe is packed with a whole lot of nutrients, and 90% of a cantaloupe is water, so Its glycemic load is low, and it helps keep you hydrated. 1 cup of cantaloupe usually contains 54 calories. Other nutrients include:
- Sodium: 26g
- Protein: 1g
- Carbohydrate: 14g
- Fiber: 1g
- Sugar: 13g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
It also contains high contents of other minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, selenium, zinc, and phosphorus. And also, vitamins like; B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, folate, aIl, which work together to help the body function properly and remain healthy.
Benefits of Cantaloupe to a Diabetic
- It may help reduce blood pressure.
People with diabetes are at risk of high blood pressure because glucose usually accumulates in the bloodstream. This can cause damage to the blood vessels and kidneys, and both play a vital role in maintaining blood pressure. There can be damage to the arteries causing atherosclerosis, which hardens them and makes them unable to stretch easily, putting an unnecessary burden on the blood vessels increasing the blood pressure.
This rise in blood pressure in a person with diabetes usually results in many complications like retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy, which are diabetic diseases of the eyes, kidneys, and neurons, respectively. Cantaloupe is low in sodium and high in potassium, and studies have shown that foods low in sodium and high in potassium help regulate blood pressure.
- It helps improve heart health.
Eating cantaloupes can reduce your risk of heart diseases, heart attacks, or strokes. The fiber, potassium, and choline content all support heart health. When too high a blood glucose level occurs, it can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control the heart leading to atherosclerosis which means hardening the arteries. It reduces the blood flow rate to the heart and brain, which is usually the cause of heart attack and stroke.
Heart attacks can also be caused by increased levels of LDL, also known as bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Cantaloupe has no cholesterol, so there's no risk of an increase in cholesterol levels. And although it helps maintain blood sugar levels preventing further damage to the blood vessels and reducing the risk of people with diabetes suffering from heart diseases.
- It keeps you hydrated.
People with diabetes are often dehydrated because the kidney excretes excess urine to rid the body of excess sugar. If the body becomes dehydrated and water is drawn from other sources like saliva and tears. Increasing your daily water intake can counter this, and since cantaloupe has a 90% water content, including it in your diet helps you stay hydrated.
Asides from that, both healthy people and people with diabetes should constantly be hydrated. Cantaloupe has a high water content that helps you stay hydrated. And in non-diabetics, studies have shown that increased water intake can reduce the risk of hyperglycemia and subsequent diabetes. Being hydrated also reduces the risk of complications usually associated with diabetes, like high blood pressure and heart problems.
- It helps you control blood sugar levels.
The high water content of cantaloupe increases the water content in our bodies and helps the body flush out excess glucose, thereby reducing the blood glucose levels of people with diabetes. Although cantaloupe contains carbs and, when eating, can cause a momentary spike in your blood glucose levels, it contains fiber and other nutrients that control blood sugar levels over time. Also, cantaloupe has a low glycemic index of 4, which makes the body digest it slowly, preventing a sudden spike in blood sugar levels.
- It is rich in antioxidants.
Cantaloupe is packed with antioxidants that are beneficial to the general health of the body. It boosts the functioning of the human immune system and helps treat a wide range of diseases and infections. Cantaloupe contains vitamin C, an essential vitamin for activating the immune system processing and its proper functioning.
It also contains compounds called phytonutrients that boost immunity and help in the attack against infectious diseases. And also, vitamin A that not only boosts immunity but is involved in the production of white blood cells. Antioxidants also fight against free radicals, free radicals damage DNA in cells, which often results in chronic inflammation, which can be a lot of trouble healthwise for people with diabetes. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants helps prevent damages caused by free radicals.
- It helps prevent obesity and maintain a healthy body weight
Cantaloupe contains fiber, fibers activate the hormones that make you feel full, so when you eat cantaloupe, it is filling and prevents people from binge eating, which is sometimes the cause of unhealthy weight gain. Asides from that, cantaloupe has no cholesterol, which is another cause for unhealthy weight gain.
So eating cantaloupe reduces the risk of weight gain. Obesity is something diabetics should try to avoid at all costs because it is a risk factor for many diabetic complications, including high blood pressure and heart disease.
- You can easily add it to your diet.
There's no one way to eat cantaloupe. You can dice the fruit and eat it fresh. You can make a tropical fruit salad and mix it with fruits like mangoes, papaya, and pineapple. Cantaloupe can also be sliced and added to lemonade or ice water, can be added into fruit kebabs, smoothies, or even fresh salsa. There are various fun ways of eating cantaloupe. You can try one or try all.
Risks of Eating Cantaloupe
Although cantaloupe has a lot of benefits, you should consume it only once in a while and in moderation. Risks associated with eating cantaloupe include:
Possible increase in blood sugar levels: although cantaloupes have a low glycemic load of 4, they have a glycemic index of 64 and fall within the moderate glycemic index range. Overeating cantaloupe increases the possibility of a rise in blood sugar levels. Also, it has carbs, so try to calculate the number of carbs in it together with the rest of your food intake for the day so you won't eat more than the daily required calorie intake for a day.
Kidney problems: cantaloupe has a high potassium content, and although potassium is beneficial to the body and helps maintain blood pressure. The body cannot manage high potassium levels, and it can result in kidney damage.
Allergic reactions: people suffering from ragweed pollen allergies cannot eat cantaloupe. If they eat cantaloupe, their throats and lips may feel itchy, or they might experience swelling in their lips, tongues, and throats.
Contamination: Cantaloupes are prone to contamination because they're grown close to the ground. Before they get harvested, they might have been contaminated by bacteria from the soil, water, or animals like salmonella or E.coli. The rough skin of the cantaloupe also increases the risk of it being infected as it can trap bacteria.
Suppose a cantaloupe's skin has already been contaminated. In that case, when you're peeling the rind off with a knife, the knife can also get contaminated, and if you keep using the contaminated knife, it is possible to transfer the bacteria to the fruit's flesh.
How to choose a good cantaloupe
Cantaloupes are available all year round but are sweetest in season, which is summer. When you're picking cantaloupes, look out for ones that are symmetrical and also a little heavy. They should also be firm and creamy, light yellow-orange. Try to pick ones that have no greens. Ripe cantaloupes have this summer-like smell, sweet and a little musky. Also, try to eat it within 3 days of purchase while it's still fresh.
Cantaloupes are very nutritious fruits, and asides from the benefits mentioned above benefit the hair, skin, eyes, and bones. People with diabetes can eat cantaloupes as it has a lot of health benefits they can get from it, but they should also eat them in moderation as overeating is associated with risks.
Not only cantaloupes but fruits as a whole are packed with nutrients beneficial to the body that you don't want to miss out on.