The consumption of netted muskmelons (Cucumis melo L. Reticulatus group) has raised health concerns due to pathogenic bacteria attaching to sites on the netted rind inaccessible to sanitation. The purpose of this study was to compare 1) the enzymic and nonenzymic antioxidant capacity between representative cultivars of netted muskmelon and both green- and orange-fleshed honey dew muskmelons during storage for 17 days and 2) levels of non-nutrient phytochemicals between these genotypes in consideration of ultimately substituting netted orange-fleshed with non-netted orange-fleshed muskmelon. Netted muskmelon (`Cruiser'), green-fleshed (`Honey Brew'), and orange-fleshed (`Orange Dew') muskmelons were harvested in Texas at the beginning (21 May) and at the end (11 June) of the production season in 2004. Fruit were analyzed immediately (day 0) or stored simulating retail conditions for 7 or 14 days at 7 °C and 95% ± 2% relative humidity plus 3 days at 21 °C. Both `Orange Dew' and `Honey Brew' non-netted cultivars evinced similar and less lipid peroxidation, and hence postharvest senescence, during the 17-day storage period than the netted muskmelon `Cruiser'. In comparison with `Cruiser', `Orange Dew' generally exhibited higher concentrations of ß-carotene and phenolics and, with few exceptions, higher activities of the antioxidant enzymes ascorbate peroxidase (AsPX), monodehydroascorbate reductase (MDHAR), dehydroascorbate reductase (DHAR), catalase (CAT), guaiacol peroxidase (POX), and superoxide dismutase (SOD). Higher AsPX and SOD activities in both `Orange Dew' and `Honey Brew' appear to confer a greater resistance to lipid peroxidation in these muskmelon genotypes than to the netted `Cruiser'. `Orange Dew' also appears to be a healthier food choice not only due to its lack of a netted rind which could potentially harbour human illness-related pathogens, but also that it is superior to both `Cruiser' and `Honey Brew' in overall beta-carotene and phenolic levels.
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