Fleshy, juicy, sweet, soft, refreshing, nutritious and healthy are some of the words you hear the moment someone mentions the word "MELON". Though not everyone has similar perception of this fruit as I've noticed that some melon cultivars are a bit bitter, tasteless, sour and not too captivating to eat.
Interestingly, melon has been reported to be one of the highly valuable fruits that is consumed all over the world. Besides, several researchers have examined the different types of melons and their impacts on human health. Owing to the fact that there are several species of melon, this post however, focuses on the golden melon specie. But the key questions are; what is golden melon? What does golden melon do to the body? How can golden melon fruit be eaten? Anchoring on these three key questions presents a suitable platform for unravelling some essential reasons why this special fruit is of great importance to our health.
What is golden melon?
Raji and Orelaja (2014) defines golden melon as a sizeable, bright-yellow melon with a pale green to white inner flesh. Botanically known as Cucumis melo and of the family of Cucurbitaceae (Cucurbit), the golden melon is originally from Europe and Africa before spreading to other parts of the world. Golden melon has a similar physical characteristics with casaba melon and galia melon however, the obvious difference is that its skin is smoother while the others have patterned skin. It is distinguished by its bright golden-coloured firm skin with succulent juicy sweet flesh.
Although Nayar and Singh (1998) report that this specie is popularly known as cantaloupe, muskmelon, melon, casaba or sweet melon but there seems to be some distinctive features that differentiate these various species from each other. For example, when someone mentions melon in my place, the first thing that comes to mind is egusi. Egusi (melon) is used for soup preparations and cannot be eaten fresh as fruit. You can read more about egusi soup recipe.
Apparently, people from other parts of the world have varying fruits that bear the name melon. Judging from the physical appearance of these six melon types, one can easily spot the differences in terms of their texture, firmness, skin pattern and colour. Besides, they taste differently as some can be quite sweet and juicy while others can be a bit bitter, tasteless and hard.
Based on these rationales, my opinion is that golden melon shouldn’t be generalised as melon rather each melon specie should bear its specific name to avoid any sort of confusion.
Researchers equally reveal that each of these melon species have varying developmental stages, maturation process and ripening attributes. They also pose some visible differences in terms of their seeds content, flesh texture, seed cavity tissue, taste, external colour, internal colour, degree of ripeness and firmness.
Further descriptions by Ajuru and Okoli (2013) reveal that Cucumis melo is an annual, drooping herbaceous plant that is distinguished by a short angular-stem woody rootstock with bristly hairs. The leaves alternate on long petioles with 7 shallow lobes and several spiky margins. The leaves are deep green in appearance, hairy on the lower surface of the stem and measures approximately 7 to 15 cm diameter.
Both the male and female flowers of the golden melon grow on the same plant. They produce five yellow petals and five greenish sepals. However, the distinctive feature is that the male flowers tend to bud first before the female flowers and they are usually in clusters. Golden melon is globular in shape with smooth yellowish skin and shallow grooves. It measures approximately 14 to 20 cm long. The flesh is light white in colour and tastes very sweet and juicy. Small brownish seeds found within the melon are normally attached to the flesh in soft strands.
Golden melon (Cucumis melo L) is easily perishable and as such necessitates quick consumption upon ripening to avoid spoilage. In an attempt to reduce post-harvest spoilage of Cucumis melo, Kasim and Kasim (2014) suggest the need for chemical treatments so as to maintain their firmness, appearance, colour and taste.
So now that you've gotten a glimpse of what golden melon is, can you confidently boast that you have tapped or benefited from this fruit well enough? How often do you eat this fruit and what are your reasons for eating it? While you are busy pondering on these questions, let us quickly look at what your body stands to gain from this amazing fruit.
What does golden melon do to the body?
Golden melon is of great importance to us due to its high medicinal and nutritional benefits. Below are some of the benefits of golden melon to our body;
Nutritional Benefits of golden melon
Golden melon is a great constituent of essential minerals and nutrients such as vitamin C, pantothenic acid, calcium, zinc, vitamin B6, fibre, magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin A and omega-3 & 6. Studies reveal that these vitamins are super essential for the healthy functioning of our body systems.
For example, vitamin B6 helps to produce serotonin in our body. Serotonin is a type of chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter for relaying signals from one area of the brain to the other. This signal affects the brain cells thus impacts the way we feel, sleep, behave and our appetite. It also has an impact on our memory, sexual desire and the way our body regulates its temperature.
The vitamin A, which is a powerful antioxidant is effective for preventing DNA damage and for fighting diseases. Raji and Orelaja's study further reveals that the golden melon seeds are rich source of protein and crude fibre. De-hulled golden melon seeds contain approximately 50% of oil.
Regulates the Blood Pressure
The intake of golden melon helps to regulate the blood pressure level due to the presence of potassium in it. Studies reveal that potassium releases signal within the body, which helps to stimulate and regulate the nerves and muscles contractions. As a result, our nerves, blood vessels and muscles greatly depend on this vitamin for healthy functioning and for maintaining a normal blood pressure.
Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases
Due to the high amount of vitamin B6 in golden melon, the serotonin released in the body helps to convert homocysteine and amino acid into essential substances. This is very fundamental as studies reveal that increased homocysteine levels are potential cause of cardiovascular disease. The Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids present in golden melon also makes it effective for maintaining healthy heart.
Golden melon is an excellent constituent of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The presence of dietary fiber in this fruit makes it very effective for aiding easy digestion of food and for preventing constipation. The fiber also helps to keep the digestive tracts free from unwanted products thereby reducing the onset of gastrointestinal diseases.
Healthy Weight Management
Including the golden melon in our daily diets is important for cleansing the colon and for eradicating toxins. The result is a healthy body with a balanced weight and a healthier YOU!
Hydrates the Body
Due to the high water content of the golden melon, the fruit can be eaten regularly to keep the body hydrated. Studies reveal that the flesh of the golden melon contains approximately 90% water thus important for your body.
Maintains Balanced Cholesterol Level
Due to the high fibre content of the golden melon, it is essential for flushing out toxins from the body thus reducing bad LDL cholesterol.
Other benefits of golden melon
Golden melon seeds can be used as an animal feed or as a preservative.
The plant offers protection against erosion.
How to eat golden melon fruit?
Golden melon can be used for making smoothie. Here is a galia melon smoothie recipe that you can adopt to make your own version of golden melon smoothie.
You can also eat golden melon as a fresh fruit or mixed in fruit salad. To eat it, simply peel the skin, halve it, scoop off the seeds, cut it into smaller pieces then eat as desired.
Golden melon can also be used for making juice. This can be done by peeling, deseeding and adding the golden melon in a juicer.
Golden melon can also be used for making salsa. To make a golden melon salsa, simply peel, deseed and cut it into tiny pieces, cut all the fruits you want to pair with the golden melon into smaller pieces as well before combining them together.
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
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Ajuru, M. G. and Okoli, B. E. (2013), The Morphological Characterization of the Melon Species in the Family Cucurbitaceae Juss., and their Utilization in Nigeria, International Journal of Modern Botany 2013, 3(2): pp. 15-19. DOI: 10.5923/j.ijmb.20130302.01.
Akashi, Y., Fukuda, N., Wako, T., Masuda, M., and Kato, K. (2002), Genetic variation and phylogenetic relationships in East and South Asian melons, Cucumis melo L., based on the analysis of five isozymes. Euphytica., 125: pp.385-394.
Ana Briones, Juan Ubeda-Iranzo and Luis Hernández-Gómez (2012). Spirits and Liqueurs from Melon Fruits (Cucumis melo L.), Distillation - Advances from Modeling to Applications, Dr. Sina Zereshki (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0428-5, InTech, Available from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/distillation-advances-from-modelingto-applications/spirits-and-liqueurs-from-melon-fruits
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