Kiwano or horned melon is a fruit with bright orange skin and an edible lime green flesh. The name varies widely, depending on the region. Kiwano is commonly regarded as spiked melon, African horned cucumber, jelly melon, or blowfish fruit. Some people also refer kiwano fruit as thorn melon in reference to its conical protrusions with thorns or tiny spikes. Scientifically, the horned melon is known as Cucumis metuliferus. The fruit was originally grown in Subsaharan Africa. Today, kiwano is cultivated in the United States, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal, Chile, Italy, Australia, and Germany.
Health Benefits of Kiwano/Horned Melon
Kiwano is not the most pleasant fruit to eat. However, it is highly nutritious, motivating many people who eat it in one way or another. The fruit has many health benefits attributable to its rich nutritional profile.
Kiwano contains essential nutrients
Horned melon is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals. The fruit has a high vitamin A and C content. In addition, it is rich in B vitamins such as folate, niacin, and vitamin B6. It is also a low-carb, low-fat fruit, implying that it is a good addition to different diet plans. For instance, it is a good addition to a low-carb weight loss diet. Kiwano also contains a slightly higher protein content when compared to most fruits. It provides a wide variety of minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sodium, and zinc.
Kiwano is packed with strong antioxidants
Kiwano provides the body with strong antioxidants that include zinc, lutein, and vitamins A and C. The horned melon seeds serve as a good source of vitamin E, which has strong antioxidant properties. Collectively, these antioxidants help alleviate oxidative stress and eliminate free radicals, preventing inflammation and cellular damage. As a result, kiwano melon contributes positively to disease prevention.
Kiwano improves blood sugar regulation
Horned melon has a low glycemic index, implying that it does not cause a sudden increase in blood sugar when consumed. Thus, this fruit is suitable for diabetics as part of a low glycemic diet. Additionally, kiwano contains high amounts of magnesium. Magnesium plays a direct and increasingly important role in glucose metabolism and insulin regulation.
Kiwano helps lower blood pressure
Kiwano regulates blood pressure as it is rich in magnesium and potassium. These minerals help blood vessels relax and ultimately reduce blood pressure. Beyond this, kiwano contains calcium, another mineral that helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Eating this fruit is good for those with hypertension. It might also help prevent high blood pressure in healthy people.
Kiwano promotes red blood cell production
Kiwano improves red blood cell production due to its high iron content. The iron in this fruit accounts for 13 percent of the daily nutritional requirement. Iron is a key ingredient for the production of adequate and healthy red blood cells in the body. This implies the body can supply adequate oxygenated blood to cells and tissue. Under normal circumstances, the absorption of non-heme iron found in kiwano is limited. However, the fruit contains vitamin C, which boosts iron absorption.
Kiwano improves and maintains heart health
Kiwano has nutrients that together confer protective properties against plaque formation in the coronary arteries. For instance, it has high levels of potassium and magnesium. These minerals help reduce inflammation and prevent the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
Kiwano improves hydration
Kiwano has a high water content that aids in hydration. It specifically has an 88 percent water content that leaves the body well-hydrated when eaten. In addition, it contributes to electrolyte balance by providing sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, among minerals, in ionic form.
Kiwano improves skin and hair health
Kiwano contains nutrients that promote skin health and hair growth. For instance, vitamin C and water help eliminate fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots, keeping the skin healthy. Kiwano also maintains better skin health by promoting collagen production. The antioxidants found in a kiwano fruit also relieve oxidative stress and keep the skin intact by inhibiting cellular-level damage.
Kiwano boosts mood and brain function
Kiwano nourishes the body with zinc and magnesium. These minerals play a key role in improving brain function and regulating mood. Thus, kiwano contributes to better mental health by reducing the risk of developing mood disorders that include depression.
Kiwano strengths bones and fosters their growth
Kiwano provides minerals that strengthen bones and improve growth. In particular, the fruit has vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc, all of which help the body maintain bone strength. The minerals in a kiwano fruit also help in bone repair and growth. Thus, kiwano can help prevent bone disorders such as osteoporosis.
Kiwano enhances immunity
Kiwano contains immune-boosting nutritional components. Vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, and iron comprise some of the nutrients in a kiwano fruit with immune-boosting properties. Thus, these nutrients keep the immune system strong and enable the body to fight disease-causing or pathogenic microorganisms.
How to Eat Kiwano/Horned Melon
The easiest way to eat kiwano is to cut the fruit open and scoop the gelatinous lime green flesh and seeds with a spoon right from its rind. In some cases, people increase this fruit’s flavor by adding a small amount of sugar or salt. A horned melon’s pulp is sometimes added to fruit smoothies, ice cream, sauces, granola, yogurt, fruit salads, and dressings.
Some people also eat the bright orange rind because it is packed with dietary fiber and vitamin C. In this case, removing the spikes beforehand is highly recommended. You can eat kiwano or jelly melon while it is green or bright orange. The vine usually looses leaves and dries up when all the fruit is ready. At this point, most of the horned melon fruits have a bright orange skin with a few still green.
How Does Kiwano/Horned Melon Taste?
Kiwano has a gelatinous or jelly-like flesh with a lot of edible seeds. A ripe fruit is consumed as a snack or part of a salad. Its taste is a blend of banana and passion fruit. The taste may also be described as a mix of banana, lime, and cucumber. The flesh of the horned melon is sometimes sugary or salty, which considerably adds to its flavor.