Honeydew melon may not be as loaded with vitamins and minerals as cantaloupe, but it’s still a high-volume food that’s both nutritious and potentially useful in a weight loss program.
All melons are high-volume foods. That means that for a given amount of weight, they contain a relatively high amount of water, fiber, and air (and a relatively low number of calories.) Why should it matter? Consider this:
Eat Honeydew to Control Your Appetite
Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., a nutrition researcher at Pennsylvania State University, has done a ton of research on appetite and appetite control. In study after study, Rolls found that people basically ate about 3 pounds of food a day, regardless of whether the food was high calorie or low calorie. After about 3 pounds, people stopped eating. They’d eat nearly identical servings of food (by weight), whether it was honeydew (high volume) or cheesecake (low volume). Most important, the subjects in her studies felt just as full after the low-calorie meals as they did after the calorie-rich meals—provided both meals contained the same volume of food.
Bottom line: Foods with high volume and low calories—that is, foods with a lot of water and fiber—are your best friend in a weight control program.
Honeydew is truly a high-volume food. For goodness’ sake, an entire half melon has only 180 calories, way less than most desserts. (A more typical serving is a wedge, or maybe a quarter of a melon.) About 90 percent of the melon is water. But, as Rolls has shown in research study after research study, that water in the melon goes a long way toward filling you up. (And by the way—water in foods seems to do this more than water that you drink alongside foods. Hence melons and soups do a better job of appetite control than solid food plus a glass of water. No one really knows why.)
But honeydew’s not a great food just because it’s high-volume and low-calorie, though that certainly gives it points. It’s also a potassium and vitamin A heavyweight. One little cup of melon balls gives you a whopping 404 mg of potassium (not to mention a little calcium and magnesium and 31 mg of vitamin C). A ton of studies show that people who eat potassium-rich foods have lower rates of heart disease and stroke. Potassium is also a key component of a healthy blood pressure. According to the latest studies, people who regularly consume high-potassium foods have lower blood pressure than those who don’t. A recent review of thirty-three studies examined the effect of potassium on blood pressure, and researchers discovered that participants who added 2,340 mg of potassium daily (from foods, supplements, or both) were able to lower their risk of developing high blood pressure by 25 percent. The reductions were ultimately greatest for people who already had high blood pressure. Another possible benefit of potassium: It may protect against stroke. One study found that people with high blood pressure who had a daily serving of potassium-rich foods (like figs) decreased their risk of fatal stroke by 40 percent.
Honeydew also makes an amazing juice. Like canteloupe and watermelon, it can be combined with other melons and with sparkling water for a terrific summer cooler. Try adding some ginger and mint to the mix.
NOTE: Crenshaw and casaba melons are pretty similar nutritionally to the honeydew. All are high in potassium; have a little calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C; and are mostly water, low in calories, and utterly delicious.
According to my friend Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., the internationally acclaimed expert in integrative medicine and author of Food as Medicine, the kiwifruit is one of the most underrated healing foods. “Because of their rich array of disease-fighting antioxidants and phytonutrients, they are often prescribed in yoga nutritional therapy to help fight cancer and heart disease,” he says.
Kiwis Have Twice the Vitamin C of Oranges
I’m not surprised. A study conducted at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, evaluated the nutritional value of twenty-seven different fruits to determine, ounce for ounce, which provides the most nutrition. The results? Kiwifruit, with an index of 16, was found to be the most nutrient dense of all fruits. (Second place was papaya at 14, and third place was a tie between mango and orange, which both scored 11.) Kiwi has the highest level of vitamin C, almost twice that of an orange, and is also a decent source of magnesium. Two medium kiwifruits have almost 5 g of fiber. And kiwi—along with papaya and apricot—outranked bananas and oranges as the top low-sodium, high-potassium food!
Another study in the Journal of Medicinal Food examined nine different fruits and fruit juices and reported that eight of them—including kiwi—exhibited significant ability to reduce oxidative stress (damage from free radicals) in human plasma. This ability of kiwi to protect against cellular damage was confirmed in yet another study in Carcinogenesis that was even more promising: In the Carcinogenesis study, not only did the kiwifruit limit the amount of oxidative damage to DNA, but it also stimulated cellular repair of the damage that did occur! Even better, the effect of kiwifruit on DNA damage and repair was seen when it was simply added to a normal diet, and the effects were seen across a whole group of volunteers and in a very short time!
Kiwi Works as a Blood Thinner, with None of Aspirin’s Side Effects
In research at the University of Oslo in Norway, kiwi has been shown to promote heart health by working as a blood thinner. This latter ability is really important, considering how many people are told to take an aspirin a day for the same purpose. According to gastroenterologist and author of Optimal Digestion Dr. Trent Nichols, daily aspirin can cause small breaks in the intestinal walls, contributing to all sorts of problems. In the Norway study, lead researcher Dr. Asim Duttaroy noted that it was unlikely that kiwi would create any of the risk factors associated with aspirin such as stomach pain, excessive bruising, or bleeding. Kiwi also doesn’t disrupt the effects of any other medication. Can you imagine how great it would be to find natural food substances and supplements that accomplish the same cardiovascular protections as some medicines do, without any of the side effects?
Kiwifruits look like little brown furry eggs, and are native to China, though they’re now grown in Australia, New Zealand, and California. The little black seeds inside are completely edible, and the kiwi makes a great addition to fresh juice. If you juice them unpeeled, and with the seeds, they are rich in healthy enzymes.
Consumption of fresh fruits rich in vitamin C has been shown to be beneficial in protecting against respiratory symptoms associated with asthma and to help with wheezing symptoms in children. Kiwi has one of the highest vitamin C contents of any fruit.
The Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocate and protection nonprofit research organization, put kiwifruit on its 2003 list of twelve foods least contaminated with pesticides. Nice to know!
“When life gives you a lemon . . . squeeze it, mix with 6 ounces of water, and drink twice daily.” That folk wisdom was first reported by Jethro Kloss in his classic book, Back to Eden. And he was on to something.
Lemons are another of those fruits that has been used in folk remedies for as long as anyone can remember and whose health benefits are now being documented in the science lab (I love when that happens!). Back when I was a musician, I remember all the singers drinking hot water and lemon for their throats; the “Master Cleanse,” a folk remedy for detoxification that has been endorsed by my friend the great integrative physician Elson Haas, M.D., contains nothing but hot water, grade B maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and the juice of organic lemons. My good friend Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., has long used hot water and lemon as a staple in all her dietary programs, largely for its positive effects on the liver, the bile, and digestion. And according to naturopath Andrew Rubman, N.D., a ½ of lemon juice daily raises the level of citrate in the body, which may help in fighting kidney stones. (NOTE: Other citrus juices do not have this effect; grapefruit juice has the opposite effect and should be avoided if you’re prone to kidney stones.)
Lemon Peel and Hot Black Tea for Reduced Risk of Skin Cancer
Most of us know that lemons, like other citrus fruits, are a great source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory agent. For that reason alone, lemons would be a healthy fruit. But lemons also have been found to have two other compounds—a group of chemicals called limonoids, and specifically a compound called limonene, both of which have documented anticancer properties. Limonene is found in the peel and has been shown in studies to be chemopreventive against mammary, liver, lung, and UV-induced skin cancer, and chemotherapeutic against mammary and pancreatic tumors. A recent study from the University of Arizona concluded that when citrus peel is consumed with hot black tea, the risk of skin cancer is reduced by 30 percent (amazing how these traditional combinations—tea and lemon, for example—keep being validated by science, isn’t it?). And it doesn’t take much limonene to get the value. According to the researchers, consuming 1 tablespoon a week of the grated peel is all you really need to make a significant difference. One good idea: When making lemonade, use the whole fruit, including the peel! And don’t be afraid to make fresh juice with a juicer, using the whole fruit.
Meanwhile, another limonoid in lemon, limonin, seems to be able to lower cholesterol. Stay tuned as more research unfolds.
There are two basic types of lemons—acidic and sweet. While the acidic types, Eureka and Lisbons, are the most widely available, the sweet types are becoming increasingly more available, though they’re used primarily as ornamental fruit.
Limes saved Lives
Back in the days when the maritime explorers started penetrating the Indian and Pacific Oceans, huge numbers of crew members were being lost to scurvy. Vasco da Gama lost two-thirds of his crew to the disease while making his way to India in 1499. Magellan lost 80 percent of his crew while crossing the Pacific. The symptoms of scurvy weren’t pretty: skin black as ink, ulcers, difficult respiration, teeth falling out, and perhaps most revolting of all, a strange mass of gum tissue sprouting out of the mouth. Not anything you’d want to have.
Now we know that scurvy was a vitamin deficiency disease, mainly of vitamin C, and sometimes compounded by an overdose of vitamin A from eating seals’ livers. Only when Captain James Cook of England insisted on feeding his crew sauerkraut and lime juice to fight scurvy (based on studies done by Dr. James Lind in 1747) did the death rate begin to go down. But it was not until 1795 that lime juice rations were provided for all sailors in the Royal Navy, and to this day, British sailors are known as “limeys.”
Limes don’t differ a lot from lemons in their nutritional value. They’re hardly a nutritional powerhouse, but they’re a good source of vitamin C, add a nice tart taste to foods and drinks, and can be substituted for lemons in most dishes.
Citrus fruits are among the dozen or so most allergenic foods—not as high on the list as wheat and dairy, but they can pose a problem for some sensitive people.