Some of the healthiest foods are often the ugliest or strange-looking. Ugly foods deserve love, if only for the health benefits and not the flavor. The kiwano melon, for example, is one such fruit that may help to protect the skin, enhance metabolism, and improve cognitive function. This horned, yellow melon may also improve digestion and accelerate wound healing.
What Is Kiwano (Horned Melon)?
Cucumis metuliferus is the formal name for kiwano, or horned melon. Native to Southern Africa, kiwano is wildly cultivated nowadays and available in many other countries. It’s a small, oval-shaped yellow melon that has horns on the exterior. The interior of the melon is gelatinous and looks like a cross between a passion fruit and a cucumber. You may not find it at your average grocery store, but certain speciality stores or ethnic markets tend to carry it.
Kiwano melon offers an assortment of beneficial vitamins and minerals. It’s a water-rich produce item that is low in carbs, calories, and fat. Roughly 16% of the calories come from protein, which is considered high compared to other fruits. Kiwano melon contains vitamins A, C, & B6, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. It has a unique nutrient distribution, making it an excellent fruit to add to your diet.
Health Benefits Of Kiwano
Kiwano melon offers a significant amount of vitamin A, which is a known booster for eye health. This carotenoid works to protect the eye from harmful free radicals that can increase the risk of macular degeneration. Fighting oxidative stress may also help reduce the risk of cataract development. The carotenoids and tocopherols also help to nourish eye cells, in addition to immune cells.
Blood Sugar Impact
According to several preliminary studies, kiwano melon may aid with the reduction of blood glucose levels. A 2010 animal study found that kiwano extract doses of 1,500 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) exhibited hypoglycemic properties in rats with hyperglycemia. It’s possible that kiwano melon increases the utilization of blood glucose by the liver to convert it to glycogen. This hypothesis needs further analysis and studies to confirm if it is true or not, though. It’s also rich in magnesium, which is directly involved in the metabolism of blood glucose.
Many people who want to lose weight often need a metabolic boost. A slow metabolism can make weight loss efforts difficult, but kiwano melon may be able to help correct that. Kiwano is rich in zinc and vitamin C. The former aids metabolism and tissue, blood vessel and cell repair, while the latter is a key component of collagen production. Vitamin C works to complement zinc’s efforts on maintaining a healthy thyroid. By nourishing the thyroid, zinc and vitamin C help maintain metabolism, energy, and a controlled appetite.
Dietary fiber works to encourage peristalsis, the natural relaxation and contraction of intestinal muscles that move food through the digestive tract. Kiwano melon happens to be an excellent source of fiber. This is great news if you need to provide relief from cramping, constipation, bloating, or poor digestion. In addition to regulating digestion, kiwano melon may also help to normalize cholesterol levels in the body. That’s another benefit of dietary fiber! It may also help regulate insulin receptor, which is beneficial for people with diabetes.
One of the primary benefits of fruits like kiwano melon is that they are mostly comprised of water. You can meet 20% of your daily hydration requirements by eating certain foods. Since kiwano melon is about 88% water and contains beneficial electrolytes, it may enhance your hydration efforts. If you eat some of this melon on a hot day while exercising, it may help prevent dehydration.
Red Blood Cell Production
As mentioned earlier in the article, kiwano melon is an excellent source of iron, with one melon providing 13% of the recommended daily intake. Adequate iron intake helps to promote healthy red blood cell production. Red blood cells are naturally rich in hemoglobin, which is an iron-rich substance. Hemoglobin helps to transport oxygen throughout the body; therefore, eating iron-rich foods like kiwano melon can aid with proper oxygenation. Kiwano is also rich in vitamin C, which enhances the absorption of iron!