Melon (Cucumis melo L.) Fruit Nutritional Quality and Health Functionality

in HortScience
Author: Gene Lester1
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  • 1 USDA/ARS/SARL, 2301 South International Blvd., Weslaco, TX 78596

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) second only to bananas (12.6 kg) as the most-consumed fruit in the United States. Consumption of melons, especially muskmelon and honey dew fruits, is significant from the standpoint of their nutritional benefits to humans. Orange-fleshed melons provide a person with 100% of their daily requirement of vitamins A and C. Melons also are a significant source of nutrients: sugars, dietary fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, and “phytochemicals.” Phytochemicals are compounds not presently recognized as having nutrient value. Thirty-eight known phytochemicals are in melons and have preventive properties in addition to anti-cancer attributes. Use of beta-carotene-rich melons is important in chemopreventive trials. Melon production and genetic factors may affect human health-beneficial nutrient and phytochemical quality attributes.

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