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Top 8 Health Benefits of Kiwano (Horned Melon)

Kiwano, also called Horned Melon, is a Cucurbitaceae family member. It is a tropical fruit found in Africa’s tropical and subtropical sub-Saharan areas, Australia, and several Pacific islands. People named this fruit “Kiwano” because its flesh resembled a kiwi fruit: juicy, emerald-green, jellylike meat. The Horned Melon is native to South Africa’s semi-arid regions, including Botswana in the south and Nigeria in the centre, particularly the Kalahari Desert. It is now grown as far as New Zealand and Australia for sale to the United States and Europe.

Kiwano is semi-arid, soft, mild-crunch to jelly pulps, oblong-shaped, mildly pleasant fruits with rough thorns all over the surface. Kiwano measures about 3 to 5 inches. This nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich fruit signifies good health, fertility, and eternal life in Africa. Some common names for this unique fruit are Kiwano, melano, African Horned Cucumber, English tomato, jelly Melon, hedged gourd, and Horned Melon.

Kiwano is an African Melon that belongs to the Cucumis genus, Cucurbitaceae, or gourd family. This exotic fruit is native to Southern Africa, primarily the Kalahari desert, and has recently spread to other regions, specifically Australia and New Zealand (1930). People in New Zealand named it Kiwano because of its texture and appearance. However, this fruit is not biologically related to kiwi. Currently, the fruit is artificially grown in Sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Asia. African Horned Melon, jelly Melon, hedged gourd, and melano are some of its other names. In the South and East of the United States, it’s known as the blowfish fruit.

On the outside, the fruit resembles an oval Melon with yellow-orange skin and spikes, while the inside is gelatinous, lime-green, and pulpy. Kiwano has a tangy flavour and a cucumber-like texture. A study considers the Kiwano an essential fruit for preventing malnutrition and treating diseases because of its high nutritional value. It is crucial in the fight against malnutrition in certain parts of Africa and other underdeveloped countries. Because it contains high amounts of essential nutrients, the leaves, roots, and seeds are beneficial for numerous applications; however, the fruit seems to be the most prized.

Kiwano is excellent in fruit salads, smoothies, and salsa. Although it is not widely available, Horned Melon is a nutritious addition to your diet, providing protein, magnesium, vitamin C, and iron. In addition, some people add sugar or salt before eating it to improve the flavour. Kiwano can boost cognitive performance, prevent chronic diseases, aid weight reduction, protect the skin from blemishes, increase metabolism, improve vision, strengthen muscles, regulate digestion, slow down ageing, and reduce inflammation.

The HealthifyMe Note:

The common names of Kiwano are Melano, the African Horned Cucumber, Spiked Melon, Brownfish fruit, Jelly Melon, Horned Melon, English tomato, and Hedged gourd. You can find it in the semi-Arid region of Southern and Central Africa, especially the Kalahari Desert. It has soft, whitish seeds and a mild crunchy texture with jellylike pulp. Bright orange or yellow-reddish, the tangy flavoured fruit smells like fresh cucumber with a tinge of citrus.

Nutritional Profile of Kiwano 

The USDA provides this nutritional value for one hundred grams of Kiwano.

Water: 89 gCalories: 44 kcalCarbohydrate: 7.56 gTotal Fat: 1.26 gProtein: 1.78 gCalcium: 13 mgIron: 1.13 mgPhosphorus: 37 mgPotassium: 123 mgVitamin A: 108 µgVitamin C: 5.3 mgVitamin K: 231 µg

Kiwano is high in vitamins, minerals, and other vital ingredients. Vitamin A, C, E, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamin, Riboflavin, and Niacin are just a few vitamins. In addition, Kiwano also contains sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus, which are beneficial to one’s health.

Nutritional Properties of Kiwano

Kiwano is high in water (89 g) and has a low calorie, carbohydrate, and fat content. Proteins and carbs provide the majority of calories in Kiwano. If you take 100 g of Kiwano, you’ll get 44 calories, 1.78 g of protein, and 7.56 g of carbohydrate, higher than other fruits. Although sugar, fibre, and starch are all carbs, the USDA does not publish any data on them. Therefore, this fruit’s glycemic index is also unknown. There is hardly any fat in 100 grams. For example, the fat content of Kiwano is 1.26 grams per 100 grams. 

Kiwano is high in essential vitamins and minerals, many of which promote health. Kiwano has 123 mg of potassium and 40 mg of magnesium every 100 g intake. Antioxidants contained in this fruit include vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc, and lutein. Vitamin A (108 g), vitamin C (5.3 mg), and iron are all abundant in the fruit (1.1 mg). The seeds of this fruit include the antioxidants a-tocopherol and -tocopherol, both organic forms of Vitamin E.

According to USDA data, 100 g of Kiwano offers 44 kcal of calories and is cholesterol-free. As a result, Kiwano is an excellent choice if you want to lose weight because of its unique nutrient distribution.

The Health Benefits of Kiwano

Kiwano is a low-calorie, cholesterol-free, high-nutrient fruit with various health-promoting compounds. So when it comes to health, Kiwano is a fruit with numerous health benefits. For example, a study shows that including Kiwano in the diet improves digestion, antioxidant content, weight loss, vision and bone strength, sugar regulation, and diabetes prevention.

Lowering The Risk of Diabetes

Kiwano is high in dietary fibre, which slows the absorption of sugar into our bloodstream and lowers blood sugar levels, decreasing the risk of diabetes. Kiwano is also high in magnesium, which helps with blood sugar regulation. A study shows magnesium helps regulate insulin action and insulin-mediated glucose uptake in type 2 diabetes. In addition, Kiwano has a low glycemic index, suggesting that eating it will not raise your blood sugar levels. So if you’re seeking the perfect fruit for people with diabetes, Kiwano is the most excellent alternative. 

Kiwano Is Antioxidant-Rich

Kiwano is abundant in vitamin E-based antioxidants like alpha-tocopherol and beta-tocopherol. These antioxidants support the immune system, keep neurons and blood vessels healthy, neutralise free radicals that cause oxidative damage to cells, and protect bodies from macular degeneration, heart disease, and cancer. There is also evidence that vitamin E might reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. 

Kiwano’s high antioxidant content helps to prevent skin blemishes. In addition, Kiwano contains vitamin C, which gives your skin a healthy glow and aids in preventing early ageing by increasing collagen production. 

Boost Eye Health

Kiwano is abundant in beta-carotene and vitamin A, which aid in vision improvement. Its antioxidant properties protect your eye cells from free radical damage, leading to macular degeneration.

In addition, vitamin A is an essential nutrient for retinal health and strengthens the mucosal lining, protecting the nasal passages, throat, and digestive tract against infection. Research has shown that the consumption of Kiwano helps improve vision and prevent various eye problems, including cataracts.

Prevents Early Ageing

Horned Melon offers many essential elements required for the function of numerous body functions, including vitamin C. For example, a Kiwano provides 5.3 mg of vitamin C in 100 g serving. In addition, Kiwano helps produce collagen, an element of skin tissue utilised for repairing damaged skin and organ tissues. Additionally, the fruit protects cells from injury brought on by free radicals and harmful toxins that can develop many ageing disorders. Also, regular consumption of Kiwano prevents early symptoms of ageing such as scars, blemishes, wrinkles, and age spots.

In 100g, a Kiwano has 0.48 mg zinc. A study shows that zinc is an essential dietary component because it aids in creating protein, which aids in the healing of wounds, tissues, blood vessels, and cells and produces blood cells. In addition, Kiwano contains sufficient zinc, which helps insulin release and boosts proper carbohydrate metabolism.

Helps with Digestion

Kiwano’s high dietary fibre content aids digestion and promotes regular bowel movements. Dietary fibre boosts healthy digestion by maintaining regular bowel movements and reducing cramps, bloating, and constipation. It also cleanses the urinary tract and protects against dangerous illnesses, including stomach ulcers and colon cancer. In addition, dietary fibre is essential for cardiac health since it helps manage cholesterol levels in the body and insulin receptors, which helps prevent or manage diabetes.

Kiwano contains a high amount of antibacterial and antiviral properties, which are beneficial in preventing various types of gastrointestinal tract infections. Furthermore, it neutralises free radicals that cause oxidative damage to cells due to antioxidant properties, the leading cause of multiple types of stomach cancer.

Maintain Cardiovascular Health

Kiwano is abundant in dietary fibre, which is beneficial to cardiovascular health. It helps lower harmful cholesterol levels, such as LDL cholesterol, while increasing good cholesterol levels, such as HDL cholesterol, and preventing heart problems.

The linoleic acid found in Kiwano seeds helps strengthen heart muscles and improve overall cardiovascular health. Unsaturated fatty acids such as omega-6 help in the management of heart disease.

Kiwano is high in magnesium, which helps relax heart muscles, regulate blood pressure, and avoid heart disease. Increased magnesium levels can lower hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease, and other metabolic syndromes, including diabetes.

Reduce Blood Pressure

Kiwano, which is high in potassium and other electrolytes, can help lower blood pressure. Potassium is a mineral found in cells and body fluids that aids in regulating heart rate and blood pressure induced by sodium. In addition, potassium works as a vasodilator, which relaxes blood vessels and allows blood to flow smoothly through the arteries, lowering blood pressure. 

The HealthifyMe Note:

Kiwano offers several health benefits, including improved digestion, high antioxidant content, weight loss, improved vision and bone strength, sugar regulation, diabetes prevention, etc.

Potential Adverse Effects of Kiwano 

There is also limited research available about the adverse effects of Kiwano. However, because Kiwano is associated with cucumber and Melon, persons with oral allergy syndrome (OAS) can experience a reaction if they eat it. In addition, people with pollen allergies may have adverse reactions to Kiwano. Signs of an allergic reaction include itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue, throat, hives, itchy ears, and difficulty breathing. 

Before they are ripe, the bitter versions of kiwano can contain dangerous quantities of compounds that are not present when the fruit is ready to consume. This poisoning can induce gastrointestinal problems, headaches, and fevers, but it is not known to be fatal.

Ways To Use Kiwano

There are plenty of Kiwano recipe options with several different ideas for incorporating this into your diet. Here are a few delightful and healthful ways to incorporate this excellent ingredient into your diet:

Horned Melon Sauce and Grilled Beef

Servings: 4Preparation Time: 20mins

Ingredients

Horned Melon Sauce

Horned Melon: 1Lime juice: 3 tablespoonsGreen onion, minced: 1Vegetable oil: 1 teaspoonCumin: 1/4 teaspoonGarlic cloves, minced: 1 whole garlic

For Grilled Beef

Horned Melon: 1Lean beef sirloin, trimmed of all fat: 2 cup Shredded lettuce: 4 cups Julienne-cut cucumber: 1 1/2 cups 

Instructions

Horned Melon Sauce:

Cut the Melon lengthwise into halves.Scoop out the pulp.Mix the fruit pulp, lime juice, green onion, oil, cumin, and garlic in a blender. Then, cover and process until well combined.

To Grill and Serve Beef

Halve the Horned Melon. Slice them into thin piecesRemove the dead skin of beef and make thin slices.Cook the meat to your liking on the grill or under the broiler.Place the lettuce out on a salad dish.Add grilled meat, Melon slices, and cucumber sticks on top. Top with the sauce.

Nutrition value per serving

Calories: 313.82 kcalCarbohydrate: 10.33 gProtein: 35.35 gFat: 7.1 gCholesterol: 100.9 gFibre: 0.37 gCalcium: 50.1 mgIron: 3.7 mgVitamin C: 10.4 mgSodium: 75.88 mgPotassium: 607.01 mg

Kiwano, Banana, and Pineapple Sorbet

Few fruits provide as many benefits as the Kiwano Melon, so include it in your regular diet, or you can mix it with other fruits. Like in this recipe- Kiwano, Banana and Pineapple Sorbet, Kiwanos are high in dietary fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. While pineapples include digestive enzymes, various essential minerals and vitamins, and fibre, they are also high in calories. They’re low in calories, high in carbs, and fat-free. Bananas are high in fibre, potassium, vitamin C, and B6, suitable for your heart.

Serves: 3Preparation Time: 10mins

Ingredients

Bananas, frozen solid: 2Fresh pineapple chunks, frozen: 1 cup Agave nectar or other sweeteners: 2 tablespoons (If you use another fruit juice, it may not be essential)Juice of one Kiwano (or 1/3 cup fruit juice or light coconut milk)

Instructions

Allow 10 minutes for the frozen fruit to thaw in the food processor. Combine agave nectar and Kiwano juice in a mixing bowl. First, pulse the fruit in a food processor until it gets completely chopped. Process the juice-agave combination until it is smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the machine as needed. Serve in Kiwano shells or small bowls right away.

Nutrition value per serving

Calories: 149 kcalCarbohydrate: 38.6 gProtein: 1.2 gSugar: 27.7 gFat: <1 gCholesterol: 0 gFibre: 3.5 gCalcium: 50.1 mgIron: 3.7 mgVitamin C: 10.4 mgSodium: 2.1 mgPotassium: 370.4 mg

Tips

When the rind of Kiwano Melons turns bright or golden orange, they are ready to eat.At room temperature, this will last for weeks.Handle highly spiked Melons with caution because they can cause stabbing injuries to your hands.

The HealthifyMe Note:

You can consume it fresh or cooked. In addition, you can add Kiwano pulp to smoothies, granola, or an ice cream sundae. To improve the flavour, some people sprinkle it with salt or sugar. But, the healthy way of eating it is without added salt or sugar. 

Storage and Food Safety

Kiwanos have a long lifespan; you can store them for up to 3-5 months in dry condition. However, keep them at room temperature and consume them within a few days of purchase, and Kiwano does not need to be refrigerated.

When buying ripe Kiwanos, look for a yellow-orange shell with intact horns. Avoid those with any discolouration or soft patches on the surface. The seeds are pretty tasty. Kiwano Melon shells make beautiful serving bowls for soups, sorbets, and desserts.

Conclusion

Kiwano Melon is an African exotic fruit with numerous health benefits. It contains a diverse nutrient profile that aids in regulating many metabolic processes in the body and keeps you healthy. On the other hand, it has a thick orange shell with spikes. You must slice it open and spoon the pulp to eat it.

Kiwano is a delicious and nutritious alternative to keep you fresh and energised. However, ensure you’re not allergic to cucumbers or Melons, as Kiwano is linked and might trigger allergic reactions if consumed. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is it safe to eat Kiwano?

A. Kiwano is high in vitamins and minerals, making it a tasty and nutritious option. It has high water content and few calories. Kiwano fruit contains protein, sodium, calcium, potassium, Vitamin A, C, E, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, and other nutrients beneficial to your health. You can eat Kiwano when the skin is bright yellow-orange in colour and pulpy. Kiwano is excellent in fruit salads, smoothies, and salsa. 

Ensure you’re not allergic to cucumbers or Melons, as Kiwano is connected to these and could cause allergic responses if eaten. Before making any dietary changes, please talk with your doctor.

Q. Is Kiwano poisonous?

A. The inside of a well-grown Kiwano Melon is gelatinous, lime-green, and pulpy, with a yellow-orange rind with prominent spikes from the outside. The fruit has a variety of flavours, from bitter to pleasant, and eating it raw can be dangerous. However, the non-bitter commercial cultivars do not contain cucurbitacins and are therefore not harmful. Likewise, Kiwano seeds are not toxic when consumed. Cut the fruit in half to squeeze gently until the slime-covered seeds drip out.

Q. Is Kiwano good for weight loss?

A. Kiwano has a high water content (89 g) and a low-calorie density, carbohydrate, and fat content. Eating low-calorie products like Kiwano Melon can help you lose weight by keeping you full for longer. People who want to reduce weight but don’t want to be constantly hungry go for a Kiwano. Even though the fruit is low in fats and calories, the high concentration of nutrients keeps your body nutrient-dense.

The best part of the Kiwano Melon is that it is cholesterol-free. In addition, Kiwano is suitable for various diet plans due to its unique nutrient distribution.

Q. Is Kiwano suitable for people with diabetes?

A. Kiwano is rich in dietary fibre, which helps reduce the risk of diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and boosting insulin release. Kiwano also has a lot of magnesium, which aids in blood sugar control. In addition, Kiwano has a low glycemic index, which won’t elevate our blood sugar.

Q. How do you eat Kiwano?

A. When the rind is bright yellow-orange on the surface and gelatinous, lime-green, and pulpy on the inside, a Kiwano is ready to eat. The most basic method of eating Kiwano is to slice it open and spoon out the pulp. Then, you can add it to smoothies, toast, yoghurt, porridge, and ice cream. 

Although the seeds are edible and high in antioxidants, you can squeeze them out. Then, scrape the fruit from the skin with a spoon if you wish to keep the seeds. 

Q. What type of fruit is a Kiwano?

A. Kiwano is a Cucurbitaceae family member known as Horned Melon. It is a tropical and subtropical sub-Saharan African fruit. In 1930, New Zealand gave it “Kiwano” because its flesh resembled a kiwi fruit.

Kiwano fruits are semi-arid, soft, somewhat crunchy to jelly pulps, oblong-shaped, mildly pleasant fruits with many rough thorns on the surface. Kiwano is 3 to 5 inches long. This nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich fruit represents good health, fertility, and eternal life in Africa. Some common names for this unique fruit are Kiwano, melano, African Horned Cucumber, jelly Melon, Horned Melon, etc.

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