Honeydew melon and cantaloupe are two popular varieties of melon.  They’re similar in many ways but also have some unique differences.

What are honeydew melon and cantaloupe?

Honeydew melon and cantaloupe are two members of the same species, Cucumis melo.  Yet, though they’re closely related, they’re two distinctive fruits.  They’re similarly sweet, but honeydew melon has a smooth, light-colored rind and green flesh, while cantaloupe has a darker, netted rind and orange flesh.

What are their health benefits?

Melons are highly nutritious and associated with many health benefits.  Both honeydew and cantaloupe are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant polyphenols.  Plant polyphenols are unique compounds in fruits and vegetables that possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities.  Oxidation and inflammation have been linked to obesity and certain chronic conditions, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Eating a diet rich in plant polyphenols may decrease both oxidative damage and inflammation in your body.

Additionally, members of the C. melo species, such as honeydew melon and cantaloupe, may benefit your skin, as they’re rich in the powerful antioxidant superoxide dismutase, which may help alleviate the harmful effects of excessive sun exposure.  What’s more, your body may absorb certain antioxidants, including beta-carotene and lycopene in melons, better when they come from fruits as opposed to vegetables.

Similarities and differences

Because they’re the same species, cantaloupe and honeydew melon are noticeably similar. Nevertheless, they have distinct differences, too.  Nutritionally speaking, they’re almost identical in their calorie, macronutrient, and water contents, but cantaloupe has more than twice the vitamin C of honeydew and over 60% more vitamin A in the form of provitamin A carotenoids, which are precursors for vitamin A found in plant foods.  Vitamin A is essential to prevent vision problems, and vitamin C has a number of immune-boosting functions. Both have antioxidant properties as well.

Honeydew melons and cantaloupes are loved for their sweetness and juiciness.  Their color and firm texture make them a good addition to fruit platters and salads.  Due to their similar taste and texture, they can be used interchangeably in most recipes.  However, honeydew is slightly sweeter with a firm, green flesh, while cantaloupe has softer, orange flesh.

Which should you choose?

Cantaloupe and honeydew melon are similar, so which one you choose primarily depends on your personal preference.  Cantaloupe contains more provitamin A and vitamin C, making it slightly more nutritious — though both make healthy choices.  Either melon is a great choice, as both are low in calories and full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

So the bottom line is that regardless of whether you choose cantaloupe or honeydew melon, including a wide variety of fruits of many colors — such as melon — in your eating lifestyle is a great way to promote overall health, increase antioxidant activity, and decrease inflammation in your body.  Go enjoy some natural melon sweetness today!


- Sources include SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD, National Institutes of Health, and USDA.

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