It is one of the quintessential summer foods. Sweet, juicy, and rich in many virtues but low in calories, the melon lends itself to being consumed in many different ways according to tastes and occasions: in fruit salad, in salads, with ham, or cubed alone.
Fruit Or Vegetables?
Together with watermelon and cucumbers, with which it shares the family of origin, the Cucurbitaceae, the melon ( Cucumis Melo ) fully represents the fresh summer meals typical of this period. “Regardless of whether it is considered among the natural products, the melon really has a place with the group of vegetables , as do the various kinds of cucumber. Its starting point is as yet discussed, it likely comes from Africa or Asia, until now, Asian nations, particularly China, are the significant makers”.
Types Of Melon
There are many types of melons. The most common are 3:
- the netted melon, round or oval, with a green/beige netted skin and a very fragrant orange pulp ;
- the cantaloupe melon, with smooth green skin and orange flesh ;
- the winter melon, also called Gillette, with yellow skin and whitish pulp.
The Nutritional Properties
The melon is a fruit with a very low caloric density, as the dietician explains: “It supplies from 20-22 kcal/100 g (winter melon), to 30-34 kcal/100 g (summer melons). It also helps the line because:
- it is very rich in water , which makes up about 90% of the fruit;
- it has a modest sugar content (about 8 g/100 g);
- it has a negligible share of fat and protein”.
For this reason, it can be consumed safely, even in low-calorie diets. But not only that, the melon is rich in:
- Vitamin C;
- folic acid;
- carotenoids (pigments responsible for the coloring of these fruits), precursors of vitamin A.
All antioxidant substances that help counteract the action of free radicals are mainly responsible for the following:
- oxidative stress;
- cellular aging.
It is no coincidence that nature gives us melons in the summer when skin exposed to the sun has a greater risk of damage from oxidative stress due to UV rays. Several studies have shown that melon consumption may be associated with:
- lower risk of sunburn ;
- increased production of melanin.
“In any case, it is great to recall – proceeds with the master – that the substance of Beta carotene is:
- greater in orange-fleshed melons;
- more scarce in the types with white pulp”.
How To Keep It
The melon is a fruit capable of producing ethylene, a natural gas that induces early ripening of other types of fruit placed nearby: for this reason, it is recommended to keep it at a distance. Given the composition of the melon, mainly water and sugar, and the low acidity, once cut, it is important to keep it away from possible contamination, as it could be the perfect growth medium for microorganisms”. Be careful not to overdo it if you suffer from diabetes or colic.
“Considering the sugar content, consuming melon while starving in diabetic patients isn’t suggested. Better to consume it together with whole grains (a slice of fresh or toasted wholemeal bread, such as bruschetta, or a packet of wholemeal crackers) to avoid glycemic peaks. On the other hand, the high water content could be annoying for patients suffering from digestive problems, as it slows down digestion. Also, pay attention to the good fiber content, which could cause discomfort to the colitis patient”.
Ham And melon: Is It A Well-Balanced Meal?
One of the most common mistakes made in the summer season is to replace a well-balanced meal with fruit only (usually large quantities of melon and watermelon) or with raw ham and melon only. “It’s anything but a beneficial routine – remarks the dietician – in light of the fact that the feast is created along these lines:
- does not meet the needs of the organism;
- induces early hunger shortly after a meal;
- it provides high quantities of sugars, if in abundant quantities”.
Should we, therefore, give up ham and melon, a must for summer dinners? “No, just remember to:
- add a portion of carbohydrates (from bread, bruschetta, Frisell);
- consider a share of vegetables, perhaps a fresh salad of tomatoes and cucumbers”.
An idea for a fresh and light snack could be to accompany a portion of melon, about 250-300 g of an edible portion (without peel), with a few tablespoons of plain yogurt.
The Recipe With The Recommended Melon
The dietician concludes her study on the melon with a fresh and quick recipe: a venere rice salad with melon spheres, chickpeas, and fresh basil. Here’s how to prepare it (doses for 2 people):
- cook the venere rice in boiling water, drain it, let it cool, and set it aside;
- with the help of a digger, obtain small spheres of netted melon;
- drain 200 grams of canned chickpeas and rinse them well under running water, or soak and boil 60-70 grams of dried chickpeas;
- compose your rice salad by mixing the ingredients, adding the basil leaves and small pieces, and seasoning with a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil per person.
Also Read: Couscous With Apricots: Here Is The Recipe