Kiwano melon (horned melon) is an unusual, peculiar-looking fruit from Africa. It is known as Cucumis metuliferus.
The inner flesh is a gelatinous, lime-green, or yellow material that contains a host of edible seeds.
Kiwano is rich in a potent antioxidant known as alpha-tocopherol that provides several health benefits.
This antioxidant keeps the blood vessels and nerves healthy. It also helps to neutralize free radicals in your body.
Table of Contents
1. Provides Antioxidants
Kiwano is not only nutritious; it also provides a range of powerful antioxidants, many of which are nutrients.
Therefore, antioxidants are compounds present in certain foods that can protect the body from cell damage caused by oxidative stress.
Although oxidative reactions are a normal part of human metabolism, over time, too much oxidative stress can lead to inflammation and biological impairment.
By providing your body with an adequate supply of antioxidant-rich foods such as kiwano melon, you can minimize that potential damage.
Vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc, and lutein are the key antioxidants in kiwano melon.
In addition, the edible seeds in the fruit pulp provide vitamin E, another nutrient having antioxidant properties (5).
2. Contains Essential Nutrients
Kiwano melon boasts a variety of vitamins and minerals, many of which contribute to its ability to have a positive impact on health.
A single (209 grams) kiwano contains the following nutrients (1):
- Calories 92
- Carbs 16 grams
- Protein 3.7 grams
- Fat 2.6 grams
- Vitamin C 18% of the (RDI)
- Magnesium 21% of the RDI
- Vitamin A 6% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6 7% of the RDI
- Iron 13% of the RDI
- Phosphorus 8% of the RDI
- Zinc 7% of the RDI
- Potassium: 5% of the RDI
- Calcium: 3% of the RDI
Kiwano melon consists mainly of water, and is relatively low in calories, sugars, and fat.
Approximately 16% of its calories come from protein, which is fairly substantial compared to other fruits.
Therefore, this unusual distribution of nutrients makes kiwano melon suitable for several diet plans.
3. Supports Blood Sugar Control
Kiwano melon has a low glycemic index, so after you eat it, it doesn’t cause a significant spike in blood sugar.
In addition, it’s a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that is directly involved in glucose (sugar) and insulin metabolism (6).
A small study found that kiwano melon extract reduced blood sugar significantly in diabetic rats, but not in animals with normal blood sugar levels (7).
There is a need for further studies to determine how kiwano melon affects human blood sugar.
4. Supports Red Blood Cell Production
Kiwano melon is a powerful iron source, supplying about 13% of your daily needs.
Red blood cells store a substance called hemoglobin that contains iron and is used to transport oxygen through the body.
Therefore, a good supply of dietary iron is essential for your body to produce enough healthy red blood cells to oxygenate properly (8).
Plant iron sources such as kiwano contain a mineral called non-heme iron. The body can’t absorb this type of iron properly compared to animal iron sources.
However, kiwano melon often provides an enormous amount of vitamin C.
This may improve the absorption of the iron present in the fruit, making it more effective in supporting the production of red blood cells and oxygen transport.
5. Improves Mood
Kiwano melon contains magnesium and zinc-two elements closely linked to mental wellbeing and the maintenance of good brain function.
It involves both magnesium and zinc in generating mood-influencing neurotransmitters that are linked to certain mood-related disorders, such as depression and anxiety (10).
One study measured magnesium use in 126 people to treat moderate depression and anxiety disorders. Those receiving magnesium reported significant symptom improvements (11).
Overall, we need more studies to better understand the role of magnesium and zinc in mood enhancement or depression prevention and treatment, but consuming plenty of mineral-rich foods like kiwano melon is definitely worth a try.
6. Supports Hydration
It is often believed that water itself is often compatible with hydration. However, the body also needs electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and sodium to maintain a healthy fluid level (12).
Kiwano melon comprises approximately 88% water and contains carbs and electrolytes, making it useful for improving hydration.
Snacking on a fruit such as kiwano melon on a sweltering summer day or after a hard workout will help to keep you fed and well-hydrated all day.
Other Health Benefits
Studies directly focussing on the health effects of kiwano melons are limited. However, many of the nutrients it contains are well-known for other ways to support your body’s functions.
- Kiwano melon provides nutrients which support bone remodeling and bone strength maintenance, including magnesium, vitamin C and zinc (13, 14).
- In kiwano melon, vitamin C and water can support the development of collagen, wound healing and protection from sun damage (15).
- Kiwano is a rich source of potassium and magnesium. These minerals can reduce inflammation, prevent arterial plaque from building up, and help regulate blood pressure (16).
- Kiwano melon also contains some essential nutrients for a strong immune system, including vitamin C, zinc, iron, and magnesium (17, 18).
While kiwano contains many important nutrients, there is no single food that holds the key to optimum health. Consider including kiwano melon with other nutrient-dense foods to get the most out of your diet.
How to Eat It?
Kiwano melon’s flavor is mild and slightly sweet. It tastes like a cucumber. To eat a kiwano, the easiest way is to slice it open and spoon the pulp directly from the rind.
Some people add a bit of salt or sugar to improve their flavor. You can cook it or eat it fresh. You can also add the pulp to smoothies.
Kiwano melon is a peculiar fruit from Africa that offers many health benefits because of its rich nutrient profile.
It covers its thick orange rind with spikes, which may make it look a little intimidating.
However, eating it is as simple as opening it and spooning the pulp out.