Did you know that honeydew is the sweetest melon? You might have thought the opposite was true, especially if you’ve ever experienced a bland, crunchy cube in a packaged fruit salad. But if you get the perfectly ripe piece, it will not only taste delicious, it boasts a slew of health benefits.
Unfortunately, most Americans don’t like the green melon, as the New York Times discovered. But this is because the fruit is often harvested before it’s ripe, and sometimes it’s grown out of season. Since the fruit does not ripen after it’s been cut from the vine, there’s no option to wait for the melon to get better with age.
To find a perfectly ripe honeydew, make sure the rind is a soft yellow, smooth and waxy, rather than green and tough. When you press on the bottom of the melon, it should feel soft and springy. Honeydew enthusiasts insist the flavor is worth the effort. If you’re not a fan, it may be time to reconsider. The fruit may soothe indigestion, help reduce blood pressure, and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Honeydew
Honeydew has long been touted as an excellent food to eat if you suffer from heartburn. The cool, slippery texture can be soothing on an irritated esophagus. The main reasons it may quell heartburn is its alkalinity and magnesium content.
Alkaline foods are either basic, with a pH above 7, or very mildly acidic, with a pH below 7. Food Info states that the pH of honeydew ranges from 6.3 to 6.7, meaning it is only mildly acidic.
Foods that do not exacerbate acid reflux tend to have higher pH levels. In effect, they are less likely to induce reflux. Foods that have low pH levels, such as coffee or tomatoes, are far more likely to exacerbate reflux. This is because the high acidity of low-pH foods can relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
In addition, magnesium may have a positive effect on heartburn by neutralizing stomach acid. Magnesium hydroxide and magnesium carbonate are both sold as antacids. (Common brand names include Acid Gone, Foaming Antacid, Gaviscon, and Gaviscon Extra Strength.)
This is not to say that you should try and reduce reflux by taking magnesium supplements. Too much magnesium can cause stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. As always, be sure to speak with your gastroenterologist before starting a new reflux medication.
Beyond magnesium honeydew is an excellent source of potassium, choline, beta-carotene, vitamin B6, folate, lutein, and certain carotenoids, as stated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Carotenoids, which are a type of antioxidant compound, have anti-inflammatory properties. Lutein, a type of carotenoid in honeydew, may also reduce inflammation in the body.
How Honeydew Can Reduce Hypertension and the Risk of Diabetes
As explained in Advances in Nutrition, an Oxford Academic Journal, a diet low in sodium and high in potassium is particularly effective at lowering the risk of hypertension. Researchers believe that the opposite, a high-sodium, low-potassium diet, raises blood pressure by producing a biological reaction in the kidneys.
Honeydew is the perfect addition to a heart-healthy diet. It contains very low levels of salt and a healthy dose of potassium. Better yet, magnesium (which is found in honeydew) has also been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Magnesium aside, sugary melon might seem like a bad idea for diabetics. However, honeydew and other sugary fruits have actually been shown to improve blood sugar levels. A study published in 2017 by the PLOS Medicine Journal found that the consumption of honeydew and other fresh fruit reduced the risk of diabetes.
Participants who consumed fresh fruit on a daily basis were also less likely to suffer from certain heart diseases and stroke. The reason? While the sugars in honeydew and other fruits temporarily raise blood sugar levels, their fiber and nutrients may gradually improve the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels.
With all of these health benefits in mind, it might be time to add honeydew to your grocery list. Whether you cut it up into cubes, toss it over Greek yogurt, or dive into it by the slice, honeydew is an excellent addition to an anti-heartburn, low blood pressure diet.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.