Surely you’ve been faced with this pressing dilemma before: cantaloupe vs. honeydew. Personally, I wouldn’t pit them against each other in a heavyweight fight. Both cantaloupe (Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis) and honeydew (Cucumis melo var. inodorus) are low in calories and fat, and rich in essential micronutrients.
Both of these melons come from the cucurbitaceae family, and they pair well together as ingredients in a fruit salad. At the end of the day, it’s really about individual preference. If you don’t like one of these Cucumis melo fruits, then leave it on the shelf…unless your diet is severely lacking in vitamin A or vitamin C.
Cantaloupe vs. Honeydew: Physical Characteristics
When it comes to the difference between cantaloupe and honeydew, two major factors are color and texture. A honeydew melon has a smooth, light-colored rind and green flesh, while cantaloupe often has a netted rind that is darker in color, and has orange flesh.
From a nutritional standpoint, they are very similar; the only glaring difference, really, is that cantaloupe contains significantly more vitamin A and vitamin C than honeydew.
Cantaloupe vs. Honeydew: Nutrition Profiles
Cantaloupe and honeydew have very similar nutrition profiles, but their color difference also signifies a nutritional difference. For example, cantaloupe’s orange flesh carries a lot of carotenoids, which are a precursor to vitamin A. Put simply, cantaloupe has a lot more vitamin A.
When it comes to calories; water content; macronutrient profile; and vitamins and minerals like B6, B9 (folate), potassium, and magnesium; and fiber content, the two are virtually identical.
|1 Cup||Cantaloupe (160 g, cubed)||Honeydew (170 g, diced)|
|Total Carbohydrates||13.7 g||15.5 g|
|Fiber||1.4 g||1.5 g|
|Sugar||12.3 g||13.8 g|
|Vitamin A||106% DV (Daily Value)||2% DV|
|Vitamin C||95% DV||51% DV|
|Vitamin B6||6% DV||7% DV|
|Folate||8% DV||8% DV|
|Potassium||12% DV||11% DV|
|Magnesium||5% DV||4% DV|
Cantaloupe vs. Honeydew: Flavor Profile
For the most part, these two melons have relatively similar flavors. It’s probably why you get one or the other—or both, if you’re lucky—on your plate when you go out for breakfast. Honeydew is a bit sweeter than cantaloupe, but they are practically interchangeable in recipes.
I find honeydew to be both sweeter and more crisp than cantaloupe, and generally prefer it. But make no mistake: there is zero disappointment if my breakfast is served with a side of cantaloupe.
Cantaloupe and honeydew also often appear together in recipes. It’s common for fruit salads, for example, to feature both. They are both suitable for cocktail recipes, salad recipes, and as sweet accompaniments to any meal or dessert.
Because their taste is so similar and ultimately determined by personal preference, give them both a try to see if you prefer one over the other.
Culinary Uses for Cantaloupe and Honeydew
Cantaloupe and honeydew are extremely versatile and can add some sweetness and refreshment to virtually any meal, snack, or drink. You can cut them up and eat them raw as a snack, or try them in:
- Bubble tea
- Ice pops
- Chilled soups
Melon pairs extremely well with savory foods like pork, and goes well with as a snack with other fruits or nuts.
Cantaloupe and Honeydew Facts
- Historians believe the cantaloupe originated in parts of Africa and potentially as far east as present-day India or China.
- The cantaloupe takes its name from the French “cantaloup,” which derived from the Italian “Cantalupo,” a papal residence where the melon was grown sometime during the European Renaissance.
- Cantaloupes range from six to 10 inches in length, and can weigh between one and 11 pounds.
- The trailing cantaloupe vine produces yellow flowers that have both male and female reproductive organs.
- A ripe cantaloupe feels heavy for its size, with a tan or cream-colored rind.
- Cantaloupe’s vitamin A content can help promote the health and growth of new tissue, and therefore is good for skin, hair, and nails.
- Although the exact origins of the honeydew melon are unclear, it’s thought to have originated in either the Middle East or the African tropics.
- “Honeydew” is the American name for a French cultivar known as White Antibes, which was cultivated in Algeria and southern France for foreign export.
- The melon has a rounded/oval shape, is four to eight inches long, and weighs an average of five to six pounds.
- Bees are integral to the honeydew pollination process.
- A fully ripe melon features very faintly wrinkled skin, white flesh, and a subtly sweet scent.
- The entire honeydew melon is edible, including the seeds and peel.
- The honeydew is considered the sweetest of all melon types.
The most important fact is that however you choose to add more fruit and vegetables into your diet—at the expense of refined, processed, and high-added sugar foods—you should experience either health benefits or reduced risks for countless conditions.
Vitamin C, for example, found in both melons, can promote healthy skin and hair by building and maintaining collagen. Vitamin C is also essential for strong immune function.
Both melons are a good source of antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which aid eye health and may help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of vision impairment in older adults.
Both of these melons are optimal for hydration. Not only are they each about 90% water, they contain essential electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium. This makes both honeydew and cantaloupe perfect snacks for the long, hot, lazy (or active) days of summer.
Cantaloupe vs. Honeydew: Take Your Pick!
All said and done, if you really have a hankering for some more vitamin A or are not really getting it anywhere else in your diet, you may want to take cantaloupe over honeydew. But mostly, the choice can come down to personal taste and whether you’d prefer to look at something green or orange.
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