What Is a Casaba Melon?
Have you ever heard of Casaba melon? It's a Winter melon closely related to cantaloupe and honeydew, and it's chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and amazing health benefits. How do you spot a casaba melon at the farmer's market or grocery store? It can easily be identified due to its unique look and color.
When ripe, its exterior is a gorgeous golden yellow with patches of green, and its ovoid shape is marked by furrows or wrinkles from top to bottom, which can range from shallow to rather deep. The hue of the flesh inside is white to pale green and has a mild taste reminiscent of cucumber and Asian pear. Cucumis melo var inodorus, that's its botanical moniker, hails from Asia Minor, but is also grown South America and in the American Southwest, in particular California and Arizona.
The name Casaba derives from Kasaba in Turkey, where these fruits where first imported from in the 19th century.
1. Excellent Source of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning it can't be produced by the human body. The Casaba melon is an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that will boost your immune system, staving off colds and flus. Antioxidants work by protecting cells from harmful molecules called free radicals. According to research, the consumption of more vitamin C can increase your blood antioxidant levels by up to 30%. Vitamin C will also help lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, fight inflammation, and promote the healing of wounds. This fruit also contains vitamin B6 and folate.
2. Good Source of Potassium
Adults should take in circa 4,700 mg of potassium daily for optimum health. Most of us don't get nearly enough. Some of the foods loaded with potassium include bananas, coconut water, salmon, avocados, lima beans, soybeans, and beet greens, as well as --- surprise! --- Casaba melon. This tasty fruit is also high in calcium and magnesium, but it's really a potassium powerhouse. A cup of Casaba melon (like honeydew and cantaloupe) delivers about 400 mg of potassium, roughly the equivalent of a medium-sized banana.
Why does potassium matter? This crucial mineral and electrolyte helps your body stabilize blood pressure, supports bone strength and muscle strength, keeps your nerves functioning optimally, and is vital for heart health. It also keeps your kidneys, brain and other vital organs of your body in top working order. Additional potassium health benefits include water balance, improved metabolism, and even anxiety and stress reduction.
Potassium facilitates more oxygen reaching the brain, thus stimulating neural activity and boosting cognitive function. Potassium is also important if you exercise a lot. It can help reduce muscle cramps. Potassium deficiency can cause fatigue, muscle weakness, and constipation.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure affects nearly one in three Americans. You may need to increase your potassium intake if you have high blood pressure or are taking diuretics. Potassium can lower the blood pressure-raising effects of salt intake. Basically, the more potassium you take in, the more sodium you lose through urine.
Again, remember that it's the copious presence of potassium in this tasty melon that will help maintain the normality of blood pressure in your body. This action, in turn, lowers the risk of heart disease and hypertension. Potassium has vasodilation properties that assist the relief of tension of blood vessels, one of the main causes of high blood pressure.
4. Good for General Cardiovascular Health
Your heart needs to last a lifetime, so keep your ticker in good working order via regular exercise and a helping of Casaba melon. The American Heart Association recommends filling at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables in order to take in the recommended four to five servings of each per day. Why do they make this recommendation? The vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in fruits and veggies may help prevent heart disease. Research has shown that winter melons are great for supporting cardiovascular health.
They are wonderful dietary options for people suffering from high blood pressure. Low in calories, they also help prevent obesity and its related health risks such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Your cardiovascular health will benefit greatly from the consumption of this new addition to your diet thanks to this fruit's high amounts of potassium and vitamin C. The latter can reduce "bad" cholesterol and blood triglycerides, both heart disease risk factors.
5. Good for Losing Weight
Craving something sweet after dinner or during that quotidian afternoon slump when you just want to take a nap at your desk? Ditch that muffin, donut, or candy bar, and opt for some nutritious and healthful melon instead. Casaba melon is low in calories (as well as fat free and cholesterol free). A serving size of one cup has just about 47 calories. Thus, consumption of Casaba can help to keep your waist slim and prevent weight gain and all of its connected health risks.
Need to lose a few pounds? Consider adding Casaba to your diet in lieu of unhealthy options, even if you just start incorporating it as a snack or after-dinner dessert. Ditch the ice cream. Fruit is your friend when it comes to shedding and keeping off pounds.
Since this fruit is high in potassium, it boosts in the metabolic processing of nutrients such as fats and carbohydrates. Voila, your metabolism works better. Yes, fruit does contains sugar, but it's fruit sugar and far superior to granulated white sugar or even high fructose corn syrup, which seems to occur in all processed foods, even bread, these days. Rather than reading labels, opt for something that was created by Mother Earth.
6. Good Diabetic Supplement
Generally, diabetics and those at risk for developing diabetes need to avoid sugar, since it causes blood sugar levels to spike. However, certain foods such as fruits have a lower carbohydrate content and thus a lower glycemic index than many simple carbs, allowing persons with diabetes to consume whole fruit as part of a healthy diet. In fact, the American Diabetes Association advises diabetics to add fruit to their plates, since they are full of nutrients and fiber, just like vegetables. Since melons contain carbohydrates, though, they need to be counted as carbohydrates in your daily meal plan.
To balance or stabilize blood sugar levels, consider exchanging carbs like bread, pasta and dairy with a helping of fresh, chopped melon. Also know that fruits vary in carb count. According to Michigan State University, one half-cup of cubed casaba melon contains 5.5g of carbs. Compare this to a medium nectarine with 15g of carbs, one half-cup of blackberries with 7 grams of carbs, or one half medium grapefruit with 10.5g of carbs. The benefit of eating a low-carb fruit is that you can eat a more generous portion, this feeling fuller faster.
If only we could all get it into our melon to eat more melon. Health is as simple as that. Well, not that simple, but The United States Department of Agriculture tells us to fill one-fourth of our plates with fruits, and the American Heart Association reminds us to eat the rainbow, meaning keeping things colorful and ingesting as many differently colored fruits and veggies as possible. Casaba melon definitely belongs on the dietary color spectrum with all of its powerful health-promoting benefits, from fighting off heart disease and diabetes to obesity and inflammation, a culprit for so many ailments and diseases.
The easiest, best, and recommended way to consume it is just to chop it up, cube it, and eat it plain, perhaps in a fruit salad or with a side of low-fat yogurt or cotton cheese. It's great for breakfast, as a low-calorie snack, or as a dessert alternative. All of us humans crave sugar and it's nearly impossible to cut it out. But we can reach for healthy fruit sugar in the form of wholesome fruits that will benefit us in many amazing ways.
If you read through the list of health-boosting and disease-preventing characteristics of this almost superfood, it makes sense to ditch the donuts and move aside the muffins and opt for a filling, vitamin C, and potassium-powered melon melange as part of your everyday go-to diet staples. Your heart and waistline will thank you. You'll thank you, we're sure.
You will have more energy, and feel more balanced and happier. You'll be a better person! OK, we're just kidding with that sentiment, but health really is the key to a good life. And Casaba melon, even if you've never heard about it until today, is your partner in crime against sugar cravings, snack attacks, carb loading, and other dietary no-nos. Now go run for the nearest farmers market and be sure to pick a ripe and yellow specimen. You will love the mild Asian pear and cucumber flavor. We certainly did.