Researchers found that watermelons and
muskmelons which include honeydews contain a number of substances that
are very good for your health. They provide folate, a B vitamin that
has been shown to lower the risks of birth defects and heart disease.
Melons also contain potassium, which is essential for keeping blood
pressure at healthy levels. And because melons are low in calories and
fat, they are perfect for weight watchers.
For a long time, folate was suspected to
play a role in preventing birth defects but there wasn't enough
evidence. A study on almost 4000 mothers showed that those who got
enough folate were sixty percent less likely to have children with
brain and spinal cord defects than women who got smaller amounts.
Melons are very good sources of folate.
For example, a cup of honeydew contains eleven micrograms of folate,
that's three percent of the Daily Value. Even better are casaba melons
which provides 29 micrograms of folate with the same cup. That is
seven percent of the Daily Value. A cup of melon is about the same as
five good bites.
Folate that protects against birth
defects is also good for the heart. Folate is used to control the
levels of a chemical called homocysteine in the blood. Although small
amounts homocysteine are normal, too much will cause artery-clogging
leading to heart disease. Low levels of folate are related to too-high
Folate has been shown to reduce the risk
of polyps, a pre-cancerous growth in the colon that sometimes progress
to full blown cancer. Researchers found that people getting the most
folate were thirty three percent less likely to develop polyps in the
colon than those getting less
Melons also contain fiber. The fiber
found in melons is soluble fiber. It is tremendously important for
keeping the colon healthy. As it moves through the digestive tract,
soluble fiber absorbs water and causes the stool to get heavier and
larger. Because of this, they move more quickly through the intestine,
reducing the time that harmful substances in the stool are in contact
with the colon wall. Researchers found that getting more fiber has
been shown to reduce the number of polyps in the gastrointestinal
tract and the risk of colon cancer.
Melons contain potassium, perhaps the
most important mineral for keeping blood pressure down. Potassium in
melons acts as a diuretic, removing excess fluids from the body. This
is important because when fluid levels are high, blood pressure can
rise. Potassium also helps to keep blood pressure down by keeping the
artery walls relaxed.
Folate is readily destroyed by heat, so
it is important to store melons in a cool place.