For almost any fruit salad, it's a staple ingredient, but is honeydew actually good for you? There are some less flattering nutrition facts about this melon that you may not know.
Ask anyone the health benefits of eating fruits and almost certainly, you will hear this within the first two or three reasons they cite. It is true that there are a lot of other benefits that have nothing to do with antioxidants and we'll talk about those in a moment. First, let's take a look at how much antioxidant activity a honeydew has.
An ORAC value of 253 doesn't really mean anything to the average person, unless they know the values of other foods to compare it to. So is this a high value? Is it nutritious? Well consider this... your basic run-of-the-mill hot dog has a value of 300. We're not even talking about the organic, grass-fed, hormone-free pure beef dogs, but rather just the typical cheap dogs which are essentially made using leftover body parts. Even those achieve a higher score than this melon!
Though beating up on honeydew wouldn't be fair because the fact is that most melons have comparable rankings. Watermelon are lower at 142 while cantaloupe are higher at 319. All of these are quite pitiful for a fruit. Even your basic gala apple has an ORAC of around 1,000% of what honeydew is, coming in at 2,828. And apples aren't even considered superfoods like the much hyped baobab fruit at 140,000 and the acai fruit which also comes in with a 6-digit reading. In short, whether you're talking an average apple or a pricey exotic superfruit, they all kind of make melons look like a joke in comparison, right?
What about the other health benefits?
One cup of this fruit diced (about 170 grams worth) does provide you with 30.6 mg of vitamin C, which is 51% of your daily value. It also provides 11% of the daily value for potassium, an essential mineral for human health. Those obviously are good for you.
Aside from those, the nutrition is disappointing. For all other essential vitamins and minerals, you're only getting 0% to 8% of the daily value. Most fall on the lower end of that range, like 2% for vitamin A, 0% for E, 1% for riboflavin, 2% for iron, and the list goes on.
With that said, how healthy (or not) something is cannot necessarily be concluded just by the information on its nutritional label. With all foods, there are phytonutrients; non-essential nutrients which may provide benefits for health. We don't need phytonutrients to survive, but that doesn't mean they aren't still extremely important for us to consume.
With the case of honeydew, a skim through a few dozen scientific papers in the NIH database don't point to this fruit as having any special phytonutrients. Now that's not to say there aren't any, but if there are special benefits unique to the honeydew, it doesn't appear we know about them yet.
Setting the negatives aside, there is major benefit to eating them. What is that? It's the fact that like most fruits, it's fairly low calorie. Using that same 1 cup serving size mentioned above, you're only taking in 61 calories. So even though it's not providing you much nutritional value, it does provide you with something filling for your recipes without piling on a bunch of calories in the process.
Don't forget the seeds!
Are honeydew melon seeds edible? Yes they are. It may be extremely uncommon, but you can eat them. That's not to say you will like what they taste like, you won't know until you try. But there's nothing poisonous or toxic prohibiting one from eating them.
Eating them raw - or at least while they're still wet - would probably be a bad idea though. In that case, unless you chewed them thoroughly (which would be difficult and potentially a choking hazard) the whole seeds would probably just pass through your digestive system, without being broken down and without any nutrients from them being absorbed.
Speaking of nutrients, being such a rare food of course there is not ORAC data available which looks at how much antioxidants are in honeydew seeds. But generally speaking, most seeds and nuts are very nutrient dense and have significantly higher amounts of antioxidants than what the surrounding pulp/flesh does.
While we don't know of any cultures which roast honeydew seeds specifically, in many Asian and Middle Eastern countries it's not uncommon to roast watermelon seeds and use them for recipes.
We haven't tried yet, but if you choose to roast this melon's seeds, our recipe may be something like this: spread them on a single layer cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 30 to 60 minutes.
Why such a low temperature? Because roasted nuts are a high source of acrylamide, which is a suspected carcinogen. However research has shown that much less is produced when food is cooked at lower temperatures. The amount of acrylamide produced really goes up for cooking temperatures of 300 or greater. That's why in our kitchens, we turn down the temperature and just cook our items for longer instead.
USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2 - Prepared by Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - May 2010