Honeydew vs Cantaloupe: Which One Is Healthier?

Honeydew vs Cantaloupe: Which One Is Healthier?


Melons (Cucumis melo L.) belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with cucumbers and squash. They grow in temperate to tropical regions worldwide. In the United States, the most common types of melons are the inodorous variety—which includes honeydew— and the reticulatous variety—which includes cantaloupe.

Honeydew has a round to slightly oval shape and is the sweetest-tasting melon. It has white or yellow skin, and the white-skinned variety is sweeter. Its light green, soft, and juicy flesh contains seeds that are usually removed before eating. The inodorous variety of melons lacks the musky smell of the reticulatous group.

Cantaloupe skin is yellow or green with raised netting over it. It has a sweet-tasting orange flesh and a musky aroma. Like honeydew, cantaloupe is round to slightly oval and contains seeds that are removed before eating.

Here are the health benefits and nutritional differences between honeydew and cantaloupe, so you can pick melon based on your needs and preferences.

Most studies focus broadly on the health benefits of melons or fruits in general, rather than on honeydew and cantaloupe specifically. However, in general, they’re both low in calories, which can help with managing overall calorie intake. They also have minimal sodium and fat content.

Additionally, fruits like honeydew and cantaloupe offer important nutrients such as potassium and vitamin C:

  • Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels and is important for overall heart health.
  • Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant by protecting cells from free radical damage. It also aids in wound healing and helps the body absorb iron from plant-based foods.

Beyond their nutritional value, consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, including melons, can help fight inflammation and protect against chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. Research also suggests that diets high in fruits and vegetables are associated with a lower risk of premature death.

One cup of diced cantaloupe provides slightly more potassium—417 milligrams (mg), or 6% of the Daily Value (DV). One cup of diced honeydew provides 388 mg (5% of the DV) of potassium. Cantaloupe also contains more vitamin C (57.3 mg, 41% of the DV) than 30.6 mg (20% of the DV) in honeydew.

Additionally, cantaloupe is a good vitamin A source, offering 264 micrograms (mcg), or 19% of the DV, while honeydew contains 5.1 mcg (less than 1% of the DV). Vitamin A is essential for vision, immune function, reproduction, growth, and the proper functioning of organs such as the heart and lungs.

Cantaloupe contains higher levels of beta-carotene, a plant pigment in the carotenoid family. Carotenoids give red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables their vibrant hues. The body can convert some carotenoids into vitamin A.

Based on 1 cup of diced melon, honeydew and cantaloupe are quite similar in calories. They each have 61 and 53 calories, respectively. The natural sweetness of fruits, including melons, combined with their low-calorie content, makes them a healthy choice for snacking without consuming excessive calories.

Both honeydew and cantaloupe consist of about 90% water by weight. Including more high-water content foods such as melons and ensuring adequate water intake helps you stay hydrated. Proper hydration is important for overall health and reducing the risk of developing kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and constipation.

The carbohydrate and fiber content in both melons are also similar. Honeydew provides 16 g of carbs and 1.4 g of fiber, while cantaloupe offers 13 g of carbs and 1.4 g of fiber. They both provide small amounts of other nutrients such as copper, folate, magnesium, and vitamin K.

Melons in general, including honeydew and cantaloupe, are considered a low-sugar fruit and a source of phenolic compounds, natural plant substances with antioxidant effects.

When deciding between honeydew and cantaloupe, it’s important to consider your nutritional priorities and taste preferences. Cantaloupe is packed with more nutrients, including higher levels of potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, making it the better choice if you’re solely focused on maximizing your nutrient intake.

On the other hand, honeydew offers a sweeter taste, which might be more appealing if you prefer a sweeter fruit.

Regardless of your choice, both honeydew and cantaloupe are highly hydrating and low-calorie foods, making them excellent additions to your diet. Given that fruit intake in the U.S. and worldwide is generally below recommended levels, incorporating either melon can help improve your overall fruit consumption.

Dietary guidelines emphasize the importance of eating a variety of nutritious foods, including fruits, for optimal health. So, choose the melon you’re more likely to enjoy and eat regularly.

When selecting honeydew and cantaloupe, look for ripeness and quality. For honeydew, choose melons that have a smooth surface, give slightly when squeezed, and have a sweet delicate scent. For cantaloupe, opt for those with a characteristic sweet and slightly musky smell, a smooth rounded stem scar, and a yellow background under raised netting, though some varieties may have a green background when ripe.

Melon rinds are highly susceptible to bacteria, making food safety crucial. Inspect melons for mold, bruising, or sunken areas before and after storage, as these defects indicate contamination. Always wash melons before cutting. Store cut melons in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. The more ripe the melon, the shorter amount of time you can store it.

Incorporate honeydew and cantaloupe into your diet with these simple and delicious ideas:

  • Add cubed melon to fruit salads
  • Blend into smoothies for a refreshing drink
  • Serve as a chilled snack or appetizer
  • Mix with yogurt or kefir and granola for a healthy breakfast
  • Include in salsas or salads for a sweet and savory twist
  • Freeze melon cubes for a cool summer treat
  • Use as a topping for pancakes or waffles
  • Incorporate into chilled soups for a refreshing dish
  • Create skewers with melons, other cut fruits, and cheese cubes for a fun snack
  • Puree and freeze into melon popsicles
  • Add to water or tea for a naturally flavored beverage
  • Pair melons with a dark chocolate dip

Honeydew and cantaloupe are refreshing, hydrating fruits that make a great addition to any diet. While cantaloupe offers more nutrients, honeydew tends to be sweeter. Either choice is a healthy, delicious way to enjoy the benefits of melons. Both melons can be easily incorporated into various meals and snacks, offering versatility and a burst of flavor to your diet.

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