Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #70179


item Lester, Gene

Submitted to: HortTechnology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/6/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Muskmelon and honey dew melons are second only to bananas as the most consumed fresh fruit per person in the U.S. Melons are known to contribute to a person's health by being a rich source of beta-carotene (for muskmelon), but are less well known for their ascorbic acid, carbohydrate, dietary fiber, potassium, calcium and iron contents. Melons have at least thirty-eight (38) of these chemical compounds with beneficial human biological activities. These compounds are called phytochemicals and can have anti-arthritic, cataract, cold, depressant, glaucomic, migraine, obesity, parkinson, ulcer, properties in addition to cancer-preventive attributes. The most important phytochemical used in human cancer fighting studies is beta-carotene, which is being studied in eight major types of human cancers. Muskmelon fruits are the most rich in beta-carotene of all of the ten most consumed fruits in the U.S., and the only fruit to have 100% of the daily requirement of beta-carotene and Vitamin C.

Technical Abstract: Within the Cucurbitaceae are two genera, Cucumis and Citrullus (muskmelons and watermelon, respectively), with sweet tasting fruits. Per capita consumption of these two genera rank melons (11.6 kg/capita) second only to bananas (12.6 kg/capita) as the most consumed fresh fruits in the U.S. Consumption of melons, especially muskmelon and honey dew fruits, is significant from the standpoint of their nutritional benefit to humans. Orange- freshed melons provide a person with 100% of their daily requirement of Vitamins A and C. Melons are also a significant source of sugars, dietary fiber, calcium, iron, potassium and "phytochemicals". Thirty-eight known phytochemicals are in melons and have: arthritic, cataract, cold, depressant, glaucomic, migraine, obesity, parkinson, and ulcer preventive properties in addition to anti-cancer attributes. Utilization of beta-carotene rich melons is important in chemopreventive trials where beta-carotene is studied on breast, cervical, prostrate, lung, head-neck, oral, skin, and colon cancers. Melon production and genetic factors, i.e. soil type and fruit size, significantly increase or decrease melon beta-carotene content and may affect other human health beneficial quality attributes and phytochemi- cals.