About Horned Melon
What Is A Horned Melon?
Horned melon, also known as Kiwano, African horned cucumber, or jelly melon, is a tropical fruit that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family and its scientific name is “Cucumis metuliferus.” This fruit is oval-shaped and about 10 cm long having thick, spiky orange skin, jelly-like bright green pulp, and edible seeds.
Horned melon or Kiwano is believed to be originated in South Africa and later migrated to Australia and New Zealand. This tropical fruit is grown mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, and some parts of Asia. It is now also grown in California.
The fruit can be eaten alone or can be added to smoothies, fruit salads, or salsa. The best thing about horned melon is that it is not only tasty but also extremely nutritious and healthy. This can be a great addition to your healthy diet offering enough protein, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, and many more essential nutrients.
Why Is It Often Called A Horned Melon?
The name “Horned melon” comes from the unique appearance of the fruit. The fruit contains horn-like spines on its outer cover and thus the name, “Horned melon”. Kiwano is covered with a layer of oranges skin and the delicious fruit pulp is inside. The seeds of horned melon are edible and highly nutritious.
A Detailed Study Of The Nutritional Profile Of Horned Melon
The nutrient value for 100 grams of horned melon provided by the USDA is mentioned below.(1)
Calories: 44 kcal
Carbohydrates: 7. 56 grams
Total Fat: 1. 26 grams
Protein: 1.78 grams
Magnesium: 93.2 mg
Calcium: 13 mg
Iron: 1. 13 mg
Potassium: 123 mg
Phosphorus: 37 mg
Vitamin A: 108 µg
Vitamin C: 5. 3 mg
Vitamin K: 231 µg
Details Of The Nutrients Found In Horned Melon
Most of the calories in Horned Melon come from the carbohydrate content present in it. Carbohydrates can be fiber, sugar, or starch. However, the USDA has provided limited information about the various types of carbohydrates found in this particular fruit. There is no record of the glycemic index for the horned melon.
In a single serving of the horned melon, there is a small amount of fat, and i.e. 100-gram serving of the fruit provides 2.9 grams of fat. There is no information about the type of fat ( monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, or saturated fat).
Horned Melon provides you with more protein content than many other fruits. One cup serving of horned melon offers you 4.1 grams of protein.
Vitamins and Minerals
Horned melon is a rich source of magnesium, with one cup serving providing 93.2 mg, equivalent to 22% of the daily value (DV). Additionally, a one-cup serving of this fruit is a good source of iron, providing 2.5 mg or 14.6% of the daily value (DV). Moreover, kiwano is an excellent source of vitamin C, offering 12.3 mg, which is 13.6% of the daily value.
Health Benefits Of Horned Melon
Horned melon is a fruit that is cholesterol-free, low in calories, and rich in nutrients with numerous health-promoting compounds. So, if you are looking for a healthy fruit then this is a great choice. For instance, a study has shown that Kiwano or horned melon is a great food that improves digestion, helps in weight loss, is rich in antioxidant content, improves vision, and bone health, and prevents diabetes.(2)
Check below to know about some of the health benefits of horned melon.
Benefits From Antioxidants In Horned Melon
Horned melon or Kiwano is rich in vitamin E-based antioxidants, such as alpha-tocopherol and beta-tocopherol. These antioxidants support your body’s immune system, help in keeping your blood vessels and neurons healthy and protect bodies from macular degeneration, cancer, and heart disease.
Evidence also suggests that vitamin E can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.(3) Horned melon contains a fair amount of Vitamin E. Moreover, the high content of antioxidants found in Kiwano also helps in preventing skin blemishes and keeps your skin healthy.
Maintains The Cardiovascular Health
Horned melon is rich in dietary fiber and this makes it a great food for cardiovascular health. The rich dietary fiber helps in lowering harmful cholesterol levels or LDL cholesterol and also in increasing the levels of good cholesterol or HDL cholesterol, thus preventing heart problems.
Moreover, a report from 2018 suggests that the oil from the fruit’ seed contains unsaturated fatty acids that assist in controlling blood pressure and preventing cardiovascular disease.(4)
The American Heart Association has recommended that when unsaturated fats are consumed in moderation, they might help in improving blood cholesterol when used instead of trans and saturated fats.(5)
The fruit is rich in magnesium and this mineral helps in relaxing heart muscles, regulating blood pressure, and avoiding heart disease. Stroke, hypertension, and coronary heart disease can be lowered with an increased level of magnesium.
Helps With Digestion
The high content of dietary fiber helps in digestion and promotes regular bowel movements. The dietary fiber content enhances healthy digestion, and reduces cramps, bloating, and constipation. This also cleanses the urinary tract and helps in protecting against severe diseases like stomach ulcers and colon cancer.
Moreover, the rich amount of antibacterial and antiviral properties found in horned melon also helps in preventing several types of gastrointestinal tract infections.
Boosts The Metabolism Of The Body
One of the best benefits of horned melon is that it boosts the body’s metabolism. 100 grams of horned melon contains 0.48 mg of Zinc. The adequate amount of zinc found in the fruit makes it a great source to release insulin and enhance proper carbohydrate metabolism.
Additionally, a study has shown that zinc helps in creating protein, which helps in the healing of wounds, blood vessels, tissues, and cells, and produces blood cells.(6)
Prevents Early Aging
Horned melon could be a great choice for you if you are looking for a natural way to fight against the signs of aging. The fruit provides several essential elements that are required for the proper functioning of various body functions, including vitamin C. Additionaly, horned melon assists in producing collagen, which is an element of skin tissue that is utilized for repairing damaged skin and organ tissues. Moreover, the fruit also protects cells from injury caused by fre radicals and harmful toxins that could cause many aging disorders. Apart from this, consuming horned melon regularly can prevent early symptoms of aging like blemishes, scars, age spots, and wrinkles.
Lowers The Risk Of Diabetes
Being high in dietary fiber, horned melon lowers blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of diabetes. The fruit is also rich in magnesium, which aids with blood sugar regulation.
A study has shown that magnesium helps in regulating insulin action and insulin-mediated glucose uptake in the case of type 2 diabetes.(7)
Additionally, horned melon has a low glycemic index, which suggests that your blood sugar levels will not increase by eating it. So, this is an ideal fruit for individuals suffering from diabetes.
Eye Health Benefits Of Horned Melon
The fruit is a rich source of beta-carotene and vitamin A and thus helps in improving vision. The antioxidant properties of horned melon protect your eye cells from free radical damage, which can lead to macular degeneration. Research shows that consuming horned melon regularly assists in improving vision and preventing many eye problems, including cataracts.(2)
Can Prevent Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Red blood cells are the blood cells that store hemoglobin (an iron-containing substance) which is used to transport oxygen through our body.
So, an adequate supply of dietary iron is essential for our body to produce enough healthy RBCs for proper oxygenation.(8) Plant sources like horned melon contain a form of the mineral known as non-heme iron, however, this form is not absorbed as efficiently as iron we receive from animal sources.
However, a combination of non-heme iron and vitamin C enhances its rate of absorption.(9) Fortunately, horned melon offers a significant amount of vitamin C as well. Thus, it can improve iron absorption, making it more effective in supporting the production of RBCs and oxygenation. Thus, horned melon can prevent individuals from iron-deficiency anemia.
Bone Health Benefits of Horned Melon
The abundant magnesium content found in horned melon makes it a great fruit for improving bone health. Fragile bones or osteopenia are linked to magnesium shortage. Moreover, insufficient intak e of magnesium in the case of postmenopausal women could lead to reduced bone density or more rapid loss of bones. So, it is good to add horned melon to your diet and keep your bones strong and healthy.
Skin Health Benefits Of Horned Melon
Healthy skin contains abundant amounts of vitamin C. This vitamin protects your skin from UV damage and it can also reduce the effects of aging on the skin. It helps in the recovery of injured or burned skin too. Horned melon is rich in vitamin C. So, increased consumption of this fruit and other vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables can help reduce sun damage that could have occurred in your skin, especially the darkening of the skin.
Can Reduce Ulcer
Another health benefit of horned melon is that it can reduce ulcers. A rodent study published in 2009 shows that there is a possibility that extract from the pulp of horned melon comprises anti-ulcer properties.(10) Evidence also suggests that isolated alkaloids from the pulp of the fruit offer some level of gastric mucosal protection in mice. However, human studies are lacking.(11)
Supports Proper Hydration
Water along with electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and sodium, are required for maintaining healthy fluid status in the body.(12) Horned melon consists of around 88% water and also comprises carbohydrates and electrolytes, thus making it quite beneficial for increasing hydration.
Adverse Side Effects Of Horned Melon
Horned melon is extremely healthy and nutritious. However, there might also be some adverse effects of the fruit, though there is only limited research on the adverse effects. Below are some of the adverse side effects of horned melon, especially when taken in excess.
Can Cause Allergic Reactions
Those who are allergic to pollen grains might also experience adverse reactions to horned melon. Some signs of an allergic reaction could include swelling or itching of the mouth, face, tongue, lip, throat, itchy ears, and also difficulty breathing.
Can Cause Gastrointestinal Disturbances
Being a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, horned melons or Kiwanos might compose triterpenoid compounds that can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, such as diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting. Moreover, it can also result in headaches and fever.
This Can Lead To Hypotension
Although horned melon is essential for regulating high blood pressure, you should eat these fruits in moderation. This is because high potassium level in our body can be harmful. The potassium content found in a horned melon can lower our blood pressure abnormally, thus resulting in hypotension.
Hypoglycemia Can Occur
Horned melons are good for diabetic patients. However, these must be consumed only in moderation, since excessive intake of the fruit can lower our blood sugar to an abnormally low level and result in hypoglycemia.
In the case of hypoglycemia, the patient experiences symptoms like excessive sweating, excessive hunger, shakiness, fainting, nausea, headache, dryness of mouth, and fainting.
So, if you are already diabetic and under medication, do not consume horned melon in excess as they might interfere with diabetic medications and can worsen your condition.
Horned melon is an exotic fruit offering tremendous health benefits because of its rich nutrient profile. So, you can add this incredible fruit to your daily diet. But, also make sure to take them in moderation and keep away from any adverse reaction.
- Bina Rani, Lakha Ram, Sharma R, Singh U, Sharma A, Harsukh C, Raaz K. Maheshwari. December 2019, ‘Incredible benefits of exotic Kiwano (Horned Melon) for wellness, vigour, and vitality.’ Research Gate, IJBI 1 (2), pp. 56-59
- Schirinzi T, Martella G, Imbriani P, Di Lazzaro G, Franco D, Colona VL, Alwardat M, Sinibaldi Salimei P, Mercuri NB, Pierantozzi M, Pisani A, 2019 ‘Dietary vitamin E as a protective factor for Parkinson’s disease: Clinical and experimental evidence’ Frontiers in neurology 2019; 10: pp. 148.
- Ferrara, L. ‘A fruit to discover: Cucumis metuliferus E.Mey Ex Naudin(Kiwano)’ Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, (2018) v. 1(2)
A fruit to discover: Cucumis metuliferus E.Mey Ex Naudin(Kiwano).
- The Skinny on Fats. American Heart Association.
- Roohani N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R, Schulin R. 2013 Feb; ‘Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review’ Journal of Research in Medical Science. v. 18(2), pp. 144-157
- Barbagallo M, J Dominguez L. 2015 Aug 25, ‘ Magnesium and type 2 diabetes.’ World Journal of Diabetes. v. 6(10); pp. 1152-1157
- Jefery L. Miller 2013 July,’Iron deficiency anemia: A common and curable disease.’ Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. v. 3(7); a011866.
- J Padayaty S, Levine M. (2016 Sep); ‘Vitamin C physiology: the known and the unknown and Goldilocks’ HHS Public Access; Author Manuscripts. v. 22(6) pp. 463-493.
- Wannang, N.N., Gyang, S.S., Omale, S., Dapar, L.M.P., Jiman, N.S. and Anakwe, C. (2009). The effect of Cucumis metuliferus E. Meye (Cucurbitaceae) on rat gastric functions and mucosal integrity. Nig. J. Nat. Prod. and Med. 2009. 12: 37-39. doi:10.4314/njnpm.v12i1.45663
- Usman J.G., Sodipo, O.A., Kwaghe, A.V. and Sandabe, U.K. Uses of Cucumis metuliferus: A Review. Cancer Biology 2015;5(1):24-34]. ISSN: 2150-1041.
- American Dietetic Association; Dietitians of Canada; American College of Sports Medicine; R. Rodriguez N, M Di Marco. N, Langley S, (2009 Mar.) ‘American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Nutrition and athletic performance.’ Medicine and science in sports and exercise. v. 41(3); pp. 709-31