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6 Health Benefits of Kiwano (Horned Melon)

health benefits of kiwano melon

Kiwano melon is an unusual, peculiar-looking fruit from Africa. It is officially known as Cucumis metuliferus. The inner flesh is a gelatinous, lime-green, or yellow material that contains a host of edible seeds. It can be good for your health, even in your diet. Here are 6 health benefits of kiwano melon (horned melon).

1. Provides Several Antioxidants

Kiwano melon 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 cellular 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. Such nutrients together play a part in reducing inflammation and preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and other cancers (1, 2).

In addition, the edible seeds in the fruit pulp provide vitamin E, another nutrient having antioxidant properties (3).

Kiwano melon and its seeds contain a variety of antioxidants including zinc, lutein and A, C and E vitamins.

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 melon contains the following nutrients (4):

  • 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 percent of its calories come from protein fairly substantial compared to other fruits. Therefore, this unusual distribution of nutrients makes kiwano melon suitable for several diet plans.

Kiwano melon contains lots of vitamins and minerals essential for optimal health. It is fairly low in calories, but high in protein-for a fruit.

3. Promotes 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 (5).

A small study found that kiwano melon extract reduced blood sugar significantly in diabetic rats, but not in animals with normal blood sugar levels. There is a need for further studies to determine how kiwano melon affects human blood sugar (6).

Kiwano melon is low-glycemic and contains the nutrients required for the proper metabolism of sugar and insulin. Some animal studies show it may be effective in the treatment of high blood sugar.

4. Promotes Red Blood Cell Production

Kiwano melon is a powerful iron source, supplying about 13 percent of your daily needs. Red blood cells store a material called hemoglobin that contains iron which 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 (7, 8).

Plant iron sources such as kiwano melon contain a mineral called non-heme iron. This shape isn’t absorbed from animal sources as effectively as iron. Pairing non-heme iron with vitamin C therefore improves its rate of absorption (9).

Coincidentally, 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 (10).

Kiwano melon is a significant source of iron and vitamin C. These nutrients promote the proper development of red blood cells with hemoglobin, which is essential for oxygen transport.

5. Can Improve Mood

Kiwano melon contains magnesium and zinc-two elements closely linked to mental wellbeing and 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 (11).

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 work 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 will definitely worth a try.

Kiwano melon contains minerals involved in the production of mood- controlling neurotransmitters.

6. Supports Hydration

We often believe water itself is often to be compatible with hydration. But we also need electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and sodium to maintain a healthy fluid level (12).

Kiwano melon comprises approximately 88 percent water and contains carbs and electrolytes, making it useful to improve 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 (13).

Kiwano melon has a high water content, and it offers many electrolytes required to remain hydrated.

Other Health Benefits

Study directly focussing on the health effects of kiwano melon is 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 (14, 15).
  • In kiwano melon, vitamin C and water can support the development of collagen, wound healing and protection from sun damage (16, 17).
  • 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 (18).
  • Kiwano melon also contains some essential nutrients for a strong immune system, including vitamin C, zinc, iron, and magnesium (19, 20).

While kiwano melon contains many important nutrients, there is no single food that holds the key to optimum health. Consider including kiwano melon together with other nutrient-dense foods to get the most out of your diet.

Kiwano melon nutrients are key players in helping your immune system, skin, and bones.

How to Eat It

A kiwano melon can appear far from edible, at first glance. It seems like anything from outer space is more likely to be than a fruit. The outer rind is thick, and the spikes are small. Kiwano melon’s flavor is mild and slightly sweet. It tastes like cucumber.

To eat a kiwano melon 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 flavour. You can cook it or eat it fresh. You can add the pulp to smoothies.

The easiest way of eating kiwano is to slice it open and pull out the pulp with the spoon. It can also be used in yoghurt, cereal, or ice cream smoothies.

The Bottom Line

Kiwano melon is an exotic fruit from Africa which 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.

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Naeem Durrani BSc
Naeem Durrani is a freelance journalist who specializes in health and wellness innovation. His interests include medical research, nutrition, and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices that empower people to positively transform their lives.
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