Though we often refer to this fruit as a cantaloupe, it is actually a muskmelon, one of the top five more commonly bought fruits in America. Along with cucumbers, squash, gourds, and pumpkins, cantaloupe is a melon that belongs to the Curcurbitaceae family. The exact origin of cantaloupe is not known, but experts think that it came from India, Persia, or Africa in ancient days. The true cantaloupe melon comes from France, named after Cantalupo, a former villa that was near Rome. The true cantaloupe melon isn't grown in the United States, but the muskmelon is, and was introduced to America during colonial times.Cantaloupe is great for circulation for a number of reasons. This melon has a compound called adenosine that is currently being used for patients with heart disease to help keep their blood thin and decrease risk of angina attacks. It is one of few fruits that is high in both vitamin C and beta carotene, antioxidants that help protect against cancer, heart disease, and age-related conditions like cataracts, and helps boost immunity. Vitamin C also keeps the arteries clean and clear and helps keep the blood moving smoothly through them by helping to prevent the bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from sticking to the artery walls. Vitamin C in the body is also used to produce collagen, a protein that helps to make our skin and connective tissues. And it is a great vitamin for maintaining a healthy immune system and for helping to strengthen a weakened immune system when sick. Cantaloupe is high in potassium, which makes it a great food for helping to regulate and lower high blood pressure. Half of a cantaloupe has about 825mg of potassium, about twenty-four percent of the recommended Daily Value. The body uses potassium to help eliminate excess sodium because excess sodium causes blood pressure to rise. Therefore, the more potassium you eat, the more sodium you will lose, and the lower your blood pressure is likely to be, particularly for people who are salt-sensitive. Most Americans today get too much sodium and insufficient amounts of potassium, making cantaloupe a great food for many people! Potassium also helps prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing (which makes the cholesterol more sticky and likely to accumulate) and sticking to the walls of the arteries. This helps prevent not only atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), but blood clots that can lead to a heart attack or stroke as well. Cantaloupe is very high in nutrients and very low in calories. This attribute makes it a great food for those who are looking to lose weight. Furthermore, because they are good sources of fiber, cantaloupe can help you feel fuller for longer. Cantaloupes have great amounts of carotenes, potassium, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, vitamins B6 and C, and fiber.
There are four big signs to look for to determine if a cantaloupe is ripe. First, the circle on the end of the cantaloupe where the stem once was should not be moldy. Second, the outer shell of the cantaloupe should be thick and coarse. Third, the fruit of the cantaloupe should be bright and orangish-yellow without any discoloration or bruising. Lastly, a ripe cantaloupe has a nice, sweet smell that can be detected even when the cantaloupe has not yet been cut open.
CHILLED CANTALOUPE SOUP
2 medium cantaloupes, seeded, peeled and cut into chunks. 8 ripe sweet red or purple plums 8 ripe sweet apricots 6 fresh sprigs of mintGet the directions at VegParadise.com
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