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Cantaloupe: A Thyroid Superfood
If there was one food you could eat to improve your thyroid function, wouldn't you eat it? It turns out, this food already exists. Cantaloupes contain almost all of the nutrients that the thyroid needs to function properly. Learn more about how cantaloupe improves your thyroid health below.
Late summer is the time for cantaloupes in the United States. July, August, and even September are when the firm, orange melons are ripest and the tastiest. Aside from simply being a delicious side item or breakfast food, cantaloupes can actually improve your health, and may even boost the function of your thyroid. How can a simple melon do all that? Read more about this delicious and healthful fruit below.
According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, you’ve probably never seen a true cantaloupe. The official cantaloupe, cucumis melo var cantalupensis, is a relative of the melon we typically eat, but it looks different. A cantaloupe looks more like a squash than the cantaloupes sold in stores. The skin is smooth and the rind has ridges that are deep like a pumpkin. Inside, the flesh has a brighter orange than its U.S. cousin. The typical “cantaloupe” net is invisible or barely visible on cantaloupes.
The version sold in the United States is the cucumis melo var reticulatus, which is known as the muskmelon. Other than the name and appearance, however, the health properties of both melons are nearly identical. It is up to you if you want to start calling U.S. cantaloupes by their true name.
Cantaloupes provide a huge variety of nutrients, which is rather surprising, since they are usually not included on lists of “super foods.” However, if you have thyroid issues, cantaloupes very well may be your own personal super food!
According to World’s Healthiest foods, cantaloupes contain about 4 percent of the daily recommended intake value for vitamin K in each cup of cubed melons. This is one of the highest concentrations of vitamin K in any fruit. Vitamin K is essential for the proper clotting of blood and overall health of bones and blood in addition to thyroid function.
Cantaloupes contain vitamin B-1, B-3, B-6, and B-9 (usually called folate). These B vitamins are known for their ability to improve cognitive function, reduce stress, reduce the risk of heart disease, improve brain function, reduce PMS symptoms, ease morning sickness, reduce anxiety and depression, and boost overall mood. One cup of cantaloupe contains between 5 and 8 percent of the recommended daily value of these nutrients.
One cup of cantaloupe contains nearly 5 percent of the recommended daily intake for magnesium. Magnesium is used in nearly all functions of the body, including building muscles, regulating sleep, relaxing the nervous system, and the absorption of glucose. According to Thyroid.org.uk, magnesium is essential for the conversion of T4 into T3, which is essential for proper thyroid functioning.
Copper is used in a variety of ways, and is particularly important for stimulating the brain, creating functional enzymes, and the utilization of iron and sugar. A cup of cantaloupe contains almost 8 percent of the body’s daily need for copper.
You probably don’t know this, but a cup of cantaloupe contains more potassium than a banana. Cantaloupe contains over 12 percent of the body’s daily need for potassium. Potassium is essential for building muscle, using carbohydrates, building proteins, and control the electrical activity in the heart.
Cantaloupes are incredibly high in vitamin A. One cup of cantaloupe contains 30 percent of the body’s daily need for vitamin A. In addition to thyroid support, vitamin A is essential for growing healthy bones, maintaining vision, and boosting immune function.
Cantaloupes are also high in vitamin C. One cup of cantaloupe contains almost as much vitamin C as an orange, and provides 78 percent of the body’s daily recommended intake of the vitamin. Vitamin C is usually thought of as the immune-boosting vitamin, but it also fights oxidation and is necessary to absorb iron.
Although most people do not eat them, cantaloupe seeds provide essential omega-3 fats. Few fruits and vegetables are a source of omega-3 fats, which makes the cantaloupe special. Omega-3 fats control inflammation, boost brain function, and may help reduce anxiety and depression. One good way to prepare the seeds is to roast them with salt in the oven until they are crispy and eat them as a snack.
Aside from the numerous vitamins and minerals, cantaloupes also provide two other benefits. First, the melon is low-calorie. One cup contains only 54 calories. For comparison, a banana contains about 101 calories. Second, the melon is low in sugar, which is beneficial for individuals with glycemic problems or diabetes. Each 100 grams of cantaloupe contains just around 2 grams of fructose. Comparatively, grapes contain nearly 8 grams of fructose per 100 grams.
You may wonder how a cantaloupe can boost thyroid function specifically. The reason cantaloupes are so beneficial for thyroid function is due to their ingredient list. In fact, a cantaloupe seems almost designed exclusively for the regulation of your thyroid. How? According to Thyroid.org.uk, the following nutrients are essential for a healthy functioning thyroid:
Aside from calcium, selenium, vitamin E, B12, and vitamin D, all of the remaining ingredients can be found in a cantaloupe. Eating just one cup of cantaloupe a day can help provide the missing nutrients that your thyroid needs to function properly.
Although no studies have been done examining the benefits of a cantaloupe-rich diet on thyroid function, adding these essential nutrients to your diet will only help improve overall thyroid function. Remember, even though cantaloupes are high in thyroid-boosting nutrients, they contain small amounts of some nutrients, which may not be enough to heal a malfunctioning thyroid alone. It may be helpful to supplement with extra vitamins and minerals while working to restore thyroid function.
Cantaloupe will also benefit the function of many other systems in the body. According to an article published in the International Research Journal of Pharmacy in 2011, cantaloupe is shown, “to possess useful medicinal properties such as analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, free radical scavenging, anti-platelet, anti-ulcer, anti-cancer, anti-microbial, hepato-protective, diuretic, anti-diabetic, anthelmintic and anti-fertility activity.”
Some of the most-studied benefits of cantaloupe (and the nutrients cantaloupes contain) are outlined below:
Cantaloupe has about the same amount of beta carotene as a carrot. Three studies show that beta carotene consumption is linked to a reduction in risk for colon, prostate, and breast cancer.
Metabolic syndrome is a health condition that increases a person’s risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and others. Risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. A 2006 study in Iran studied almost 500 women to determine if diet could reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. The researchers found that women who ate at least 12 ounces of specific fruits (cantaloupe, watermelon, bananas, apples, and grapes) had a much lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome and had less inflammation in the body. Cantaloupe and the other fruits also have anti-inflammatory properties based on the results of this study.
Cantaloupes contain healthy polyphenols, which are a form of plant compound which is a known anti-oxidant and disease-fighter. Cantaloupes are not the highest fruit in polyphenols, but a person typically eats a higher amount of cantaloupe than other fruits, which according to The World’s Healthiest Foods, means that eating cantaloupe can provide more polyphenols in the diet than grapefruit, pineapple, tangerines, kiwi, or watermelon.
Ripe fruit is healthiest and provides the highest number of nutrients. However, most cantaloupe sold in a grocery store is picked way too soon. If you cannot pick up your cantaloupe from a farmer’s market (or even better, grow your own), then use the following tips to pick the ripest melons:
You can leave out slightly raw cantaloupes on the counter to ripen.
Melons, unfortunately, are one of the biggest sources of food poisoning. Melons can be contaminated with a variety of bacteria, including e. coli, listeria, salmonella, and other bacteria or viruses.
According to the Environ Health Associates, cantaloupe is one of the top offenders because the textured skin is more likely to hold bacteria and soak up contaminated water. Between 1996 and 2008, the FDA reports that there were 507 cases of illnesses and 2 deaths linked to contaminated melons (not just cantaloupes).
However, before you swear off cantaloupes forever, there are a few tricks you can employ to reduce your risk of catching an illness from cantaloupe.
According to Dr. Wayne Pickering, an expert on food combining, there are certain foods that should be eaten in combination, and certain foods that should be eaten alone. If you eat foods that should be eaten alone with other foods, you could have digestion problems. Most people follow this thought process to some extent (which is why few people eat hot sauce and fruit, for example), but few take it as far as Dr. Pickering.
According to Dr. Pickering, cantaloupe and melons in particular will cause stomach problems if eaten with other foods. He even created a silly rhyme to remind people to eat them by themselves. The rhyme goes, “melons should be eaten alone or left alone.” Basically, your body cannot digest melons and other foods at the same time, which allows the melons to ferment in the stomach, leading to gas, pain, and other issues. Rather than eating melons with other foods, try eating them alone as breakfast or a snack.
Eating cantaloupe alone will not heal the thyroid, but it contains many of the nutrients necessary for essential thyroid function. Since cantaloupe is such an easy food to eat, it is one of the simplest steps a person can take to improve their thyroid function. Naturally, to completely heal the thyroid it is essential to cut out foods that could slow the thyroid and eat other foods rich in thyroid-boosting nutrients (and supplement for any severe deficiencies), but adding cantaloupe to the diet is one of the simplest, most effective food additions you can use. Eat cantaloupe in combination with your other thyroid-healing efforts can make a big impact in your health and weight.
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