What is a Horned Melon/ Kiwano?
The kiwano melon or horned melon (Cucumis metuliferus) has orange skin and spikes on its outer surface but is pulpy inside. Due to its physical appearance, the fruit quite resembles a kiwi, but there is no scientific evidence of any biological similarity between the two.
The horned melon mostly grows in the dry or semi-arid places of the world and comes mainly from the Kalahari Desert in Africa due to the extreme climatic conditions it becomes the traditional fruit of Africa that keep the Africans hydrated during the dry seasons. The fruit is now being grown artificially in various parts of the world, like Australia, New Zealand and in other places of the US.
You can eat it as a snack between meals. The kiwano can become a fresh addition to your salads. The taste of the fruit is similar to bananas and passion fruit. The peel of the melon contains essential nutrients, organic compounds, vitamins, and minerals. This reason is why the World Health Organization (WHO) considered it an essential fruit for fighting malnutrition and treating illnesses.
Horned melon which is also known as kiwano has many health benefits which includes improving digestion, neutralizing free radicals, preventing cancer, slowing down the aging process, alleviating stress, improving visibility and strengthening bones.
History Of Kiwano/Horned Melon
The horned melon or kiwano is a strange-looking fruit native to Southern Africa and has recently (in the past century) been introduced to other parts of the world, namely Australia and New Zealand. This is where it picked up the name kiwano, due to its similar consistency and appearance to kiwi. However, this fruit is not biologically linked to kiwi and is actually closer in nutritive and evolutionary terms to cucumber and zucchini. The scientific name of the horned melon is Cucumis metuliferus, and the fruit is widely cultivated in sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and certain parts of Asia.
The name “horned melon” comes from the fruit’s unusual appearance, as the outer layer of orange or gold skin is covered in small spikes. The inside of the fruit does have the gelatinous appearance of a kiwi, but the inner layer of fruit pulp is a culinary ingredient. The leaves and roots are also used for various applications, but the fruit is the most highly prized. The seeds contain high concentrations of beneficial nutrients and organic compounds that make the fruit so healthy.
As a cultural item, kiwano is considered vital for meeting food shortage issues in sub-Saharan Africa, as it can retain significant amounts of water through the dry season and can also grow in harsh conditions, while simultaneously providing a wide range of essential nutrients to those who may have limited access to food.
Horned Melon/ Kiwano Nutritional Value
Horned Melons are varying in size from 8 centimeters (3.2 in) to 10 centimeters (4 in) long & 4 -5 centimeters (1.5-2 in) in diameter. According to the research, the average weight of a Horned Melon is 209 grams. Horned melons are available during the summer. Horned melons are generally sweet and tart, although the taste has been compared to cucumber or combination of Cucumber and banana. One cup of Horned Melon 233 grams contains 103 kilo calories. According to USAD major nutrients contain in this fruit are Iron (32.88%), Magnesium (22.14%), Vitamin C (13.67%), Phosphorus (12.29%), and Vitamin B6 (11.31%).
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 44
- Total Fat 1.3 g 2%
- Sodium 2 mg
- Potassium 123 mg 3%
- Carbohydrate 8 g 2%
- Protein 1.8 g 3%
- Vitamin A 2%
- Vitamin C 8%
- Calcium 1%
- Iron 6%
- Vitamin B-6 5%
- Magnesium 10%
Quick Nutritional Value of Horned Melon
Serving Size: 1 Cup ( 233 g)
|Total Fat||2.94 g||8.40%|
|Saturated Fat||0 g||NA|
|Vitamin C||12.3 mg||13.67%|
|Vitamin B6||0.147 mg||11.31%|
|Vitamin B5||0.426 mg||8.52%|
|Vitamin B3||1.316 mg||8.23%|
|Vitamin B1||0.058 mg||4.83%|
|Vitamin B2||0.035 mg||2.69%|
|Amino Acids & Lipids||Amount||% DV|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0 g||0%|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0 g||0%|
|Trans Fat||0 g||0%|
Treats Iron Deficiency
Here’s good news for patients who are suffering from anemia: they can restore their hemoglobin levels by consuming more kiwano. Kiwano contains a high level of iron and other essential nutrients that your body needs. Experts describe it as a ‘natural drug’ for treating anemia.
Health Benefits Horned Melon/Kiwano
1. Heart Health
Kiwano has very low cholesterol levels, and its seeds are rich in linoleic acid, which has unsaturated omega-6 fatty acids. It also contains oleic acid, which is important for a healthy heart as it is mono-saturated.
2. Aids in Digestion
Horned Melon is loaded with dietary fibre which regulates bowel movements and prevents constipation, bloating, cramping, as well as other serious conditions such as colon cancer and gastric ulcers.
3. Brain Health
Vitamin E is known to slow down the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Kiwano is also rich in different tocopherol variations that will help in keeping the mind fresh and boost cognitive function.
4. Improves Vision
Kiwano has high level of vitamin A which helps boost eye health. Since Vitamin A is a carotenoid, it acts as an antioxidant and eliminates free-radicals that can cause eye conditions such as macular degeneration.
5. Skin Care
Kiwano is packed with vitamins A and C, antioxidants, and loads of organic compounds. These nutrients helps keep the skin healthy and reduce wrinkles and age spots.
6. Strengthens Bones and muscles
Horn melon contain potassium which is essential for bones and muscles. It improves the functioning of cardiac muscles also. Zinc in kiwano also helps in bone development, growth and repair. Calcium also boost bone strngth and prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
7. Wound Healing
Zinc plays a key role in metabolism and producing protein, which is necessary for wound healing and repair of organs, tissues, blood vessels, and cells. The high content of vitamin C is a perfect complement to the zinc found in kiwano, as ascorbic acid is a key component of collagen, which is another key material in repair and growth.
8. Relieves Stress & Anxiety
Kiwano regulates hormones particularly adrenaline and other stress hormones. According to research, the various organic compounds in this fruit help in hormone regulation, especially in the regulation of stress hormones such as adrenaline. Kiwano is recommended if you suffer from chronic anxiety or stress as it helps in keeping the mind calm and relaxed.
9. Reduces Cancer Risk
There are high levels of alpha-tocopherol found in kiwano, which is a potent antioxidant form of vitamin E.The antioxidant neutralizes free radicals that can cause cancer.It flushes out carcinogenic substances from the body, thanks to its antioxidant properties.
Kiwano has high level of iron which helps in the production of haemoglobin. Experts describe it as a ‘natural drug’ for treating anemia.
11. Packed With Antioxidants:
Kiwano is rich in a powerful antioxidant known as alpha-tocopherol. This antioxidant keeps the blood vessels and nerves healthy. It also helps in the neutralization of free-radicals in your body, keeping you safe from serious conditions such as cancer, heart disease, etc.
12. Helps In Weight Loss:
This fruit is made up of over 80% water. This means that you get full faster without packing on the pounds. Although it is low in fats, the nutrients that it contains keep your body healthy while you try to lose weight. This fruit, like most others, contains carbs too. However, it is of a type that does not make you pile up pounds.
13. Boosts Cognitive Functioning:
Vitamin E is known to slow down the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Kiwano is also rich in different tocopherol variations that will help in keeping your mind fresh and boost cognitive function.
14. Slows Down The Aging Process:
Kiwano is packed with vitamins A and C, antioxidants, and loads of organic compounds. It is due to these essential nutrients that you can stay young, inside and out. They help keep your skin healthy and reduce wrinkles and age spots. You stay young on the inside as well because of the intense antioxidant action that keeps various chronic diseases away.
15. Boosts Metabolism:
The zinc present in kiwano helps in boosting the metabolic processes in your body. It also aids in protein production that is important for the repairing of different organs, cells, tissues and blood vessels.
16. Strengthen Hair Follicles
The nutritive element of the kiwano fruit can improve your hair strength and make it fertile. The only catch is that you have to consume it on a daily basis.
17. Cure Diabetes
If you are looking for the perfect fruit for diabetics, kiwano is the best option as it contains a rich amount of magnesium that helps you manage your blood sugar.
18. Aids Recovery from Heat Stroke
The global warming phenomenon means that the average temperatures around the world are on the rise. The risk of a heat stroke and a sun stroke is higher than ever. Luckily for you, kiwano can help you recover from a heat or sun stroke. The fruit is rich in sodium and water, ensuring you stay hydrated in case you have a stroke.
19. Decreases the Risk of Obesity
Fitness is an important factor when it comes to your overall health and wellness, and hence few fruits are better than kiwano melon, which has 90% water content. The water content of the fruit helps remove harmful substances from your body. The best part is that you don’t have to limit your intake of the kiwano melon.
What Does Horned Melon Taste Like?
So what does horned melon taste like? The general opinion is that it tastes like a mix of cucumber, zucchini, kiwifruit and banana. I would say that’s about right but I would like to add cantaloupe into this mix. I also found that the taste in general is not very sharp or sweet, which is good so it won’t be too much of a shock when you have it for the first time. When it’s very ripe though, the banana flavor will start to take over control.
Other Names for Horned Melon
Kiwano goes by many other names, depending on where you are. The weird looks of this fruit and with the characteristics of cucumber and melon mixed together, it should be no surprise that the kiwano melon has been given many exciting names.
Kiwano is also known as African horned melon, jelly melon, African horned cucumber, melano, and they have even been called spiked pears. So if you’re on the hunt for kiwano melons and you see any of these names, then you’ve probably found the right fruit.
How to Cut and Eat a Horned Melon
Cutting and eating a horned melon is easy, but to make the most of it, the following tips may come in handy. Make sure you choose a ripe kiwano, one that is not too hard (and not too soft either) and has an orange color rather than yellow/green. Also, make sure you wash the fruit before cutting to avoid getting your knife dirty or contaminated.
You can “drink” a kiwano melon by simply cutting it in half and squeeze the contents of one half into your mouth. The seeds can also be consumed so you can basically drink everything that you can squeeze out of the fruit. The more common way to eat this fruit is to cut it in half and then scoop out bits and pieces with a spoon. Do the scooping on a clean surface so you can also eat the left-overs that you may spill.
Here is a fun video that will show you how to cut and eat a kiwano melon:
How To Select And Store Horned Melon
Horned melon Recipe
Horned melon Chicken
- 1 horned melon, halved lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 (7-ounce) container whole plain yogurt
- 3 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided Cooking spray
- 4 (6-inch) whole wheat pitas, warmed and cut in half
- Squeeze horned melon into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl; press seeds with the back of a spoon to extract juice. Discard seeds. Add fresh lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, ground cumin, and yogurt to bowl; stir with a whisk. Cover and chill.
- Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound each piece to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; rub with garlic.
- Heat 1/2 teaspoon olive oil in a nonstick grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add 2 breast halves to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from heat, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil and chicken. Transfer chicken to cutting board, and cool slightly. Cut chicken into thin strips. Fill each pita half with about 1/2 cup chicken, and top with 2 tablespoons raita.
How To Grow Horned melon
The horned melon (Cucumis metuliferus) — which also goes by the common names kiwano, jelly melon or African horned cucumber — produces showy and edible fruits that feature distinctive stippled skin and spiky protrusions. This native of South Africa, hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zone 10 and up, thrives in mild climates that resemble its natural environment. Horned melon resists common afflictions such as root-knot nematodes, powdery mildew, melon aphids and greenhouse white flies.
- Select a planting site with rich, well-drained soil and full sunlight exposure. Horned melon prefers clay or loamy soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5, though it is not terribly picky about soils. Choose an area near a trellis or fence to promote climbing.
- Plant horned melon seeds to a depth of 1/2 to 1 inch. Leave 18 to 24 inches between groups of two or three seeds. Allow about six feet of space between rows. Sow your seeds in the spring season when temperatures are above 57 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep the soil consistently moist down to about 1 inch to germinate the melon. Germination occurs within two or three weeks.
- Water the horned melon slowly and deeply in the morning or afternoon once established. Provide the plant with 1 to 2 inches of water per week, soaking the soil down to about 6 inches. Allow the soil to dry between waterings.
- Apply general-use fertilizer with a 4-8-5 or 6-10-10 N-P-K ratio according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Apply organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, around the base of the plant when the soil temperature is above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps the plant retain moisture and prevents weed growth.
- Pick weeds by hand as they appear; this will help prevent diseases such as the cucumber mosaic virus and tobacco ringspot virus.
Things You Will Need
- Cucumis metuliferus seeds
- General-use fertilizer, 4-8-5 or 6-10-10
- Organic mulch
- If your garden is equipped, consider using plastic mulch and a drip irrigation system to cultivate horned melons.
Wear gloves when harvesting the fruit of the horned melon, as its spines may puncture the skin.
Negative Effects of Horned Melon
Consuming horned melon in young or raw condition can cause abdominal pain, headache, and fever. So, if you want to eat fruit Kiwano, choose ripely.
Too Much Dietary Fiber Is Bad For Stomach
Eating kiwanos on a regular and moderate basis has been found to be very beneficial for our stomach and helps in keeping our digestive system healthy.
This benefit of kiwanos is mainly due to the presence of dietary fibers in them. The dietary fibers present in the horned melons acts as a natural laxative which means it improves bowel movement and ensures smooth elimination of stool from our system. This provides relief from constipation and also reduces the risk of various gastrointestinal problems like abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, gas, flatulence etc.
Although dietary fibers are very beneficial for our digestive health, it is advisable to consume kiwanos in moderation. This is because over intake of dietary fibers in our system can do more harm than the good. Some common side effects of fiber overload in our system are the poor absorption of nutrients, indigestion, abdominal pain, intestinal gas, intestinal blockage etc.
Dietary fibers are also known to absorb excess water from our system. In moderation, this is good as it reduces the risk of diarrhea but consuming too many dietary fibers without drinking adequate water can lead to dehydration, and may even increase the risk of constipation and other health problems.
Too Many Antioxidants Are Bad For Our Health
Horned melons are an excellent source of many antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E and other antioxidantal compounds that provides a number of benefits to us.
These antioxidants fight with the free radicals in our body, stabilizes them and prevents them from causing oxidative damage caused by the free radicals, and thus reduces the risk of various cancers. It also aids in removing toxins from our system, which in turn helps our vital organs like liver and kidneys.
Antioxidants also provide a number of other benefits such as improves cognitive function, reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, strengthens the immune system, improves cardiovascular health and so on.
Although antioxidants are great for us and provide a number of benefits, it is advisable to keep an eye on them. This is because high intake of antioxidants in our system can do more harm than the good.
As per a research conducted by the National Cancer Institute, it was found that smokers who took beta-carotene supplements in large doses were more likely to develop lung cancer in comparison to those who didn’t. Similarly, another study conducted by the Office of the Dietary supplements found that the excessive intake of vitamin E can increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
This disadvantage of kiwano is due to the fact that in excessive quantity, antioxidants not target the free radicals( and carcinogens), but also starts targeting the healthy cells around them, causes oxidative damage to them and thus increases the risk of various cancers.
May Develop Allergic Reactions In Some Individuals
Kiwano is an excellent source of many nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, polyphenols, carotenoids, flavonoids, dietary fibers etc. and presence of these compounds make them very beneficial for us. Because of the presence of these nutrients, kiwano provides a number of health benefits and beauty benefits. However, these benefits can’t be enjoyed by all of us.
It has been found that some individuals might be allergic to kiwanos and they should avoid consuming kiwanos at all cost. Some common allergic reactions caused by the horned melons are skin rashes, itching, swelling of mouth, tongue, lips, and face etc.
Kiwano belongs to cucumber family, and if you are allergic to cucumber then it is highly possible that you might be allergic to kiwano, you should proceed with caution.
May Cause Hypotension
Consuming kiwanos on a regular and moderate basis has been found to be very beneficial for providing relief from hypertension or high blood pressure, which is a major health problem that affects millions of people around the world and is a primary cause of various cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, heart stroke, irregular heartbeat etc.
This benefit of kiwano is mainly due to the presence of potassium in it. Potassium is a vital mineral that acts as a natural vasodilator which means it relaxes our blood vessels, improves blood circulation and thus provides relief from high blood pressure or hypertension.
Although kiwano is beneficial for regulating high blood pressure, it is advisable to eat kiwanos in moderation. This is because the high level of potassium in our system can do more harm than good. Potassium present in the kiwano can lower our blood pressure to an abnormally low level giving rise to hypotension.
Hypotension is a health condition in which our blood pressure drops below the normal level and is characterized by the symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, dizziness, clammy skin, depression, blurry vision etc.
In addition to this, if you are suffering from high blood pressure and already taking medication for the same, then it becomes even more important to keep an eye on your horned melons consumption. This is because potassium present in the kiwano may interfere with the blood pressure medication and may worsen the situation.
May Increase The Risk of Hypoglycemia
Regular and moderate intake of kiwano has been found to be very beneficial for the diabetic patients and for those who are at the risk of developing diabetes.
This advantage of kiwano is mainly because of its low glycemic index. Being a low glycemic index fruit, it ensures that it releases sugar into the bloodstream at a slow rate and doesn’t causes a sudden spike in the blood sugar level, and thus aids in managing diabetes
The dietary fibers present in the kiwano reduce the rate at which sugar gets absorbed into the bloodstream and thus helps in managing diabetes.
Although kiwanos are good for the diabetic patients, it is advisable to consume them in moderation. This is because excessive intake of kiwanos can lower our blood sugar to an abnormally low level giving rise to hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia is a condition in which our blood sugar drops down below the normal range, and is characterized by the symptoms such as excessive hunger, excessive sweating, fainting, shakiness, nausea, dryness of mouth, headache, fainting etc.
Also, if you are a diabetic patient and already taking medication for the same, then eating too many kiwanos may interfere with the diabetic medication and may worsen the situation.
Eating Cranberries During Pregnancy And Nursing Stage
Pregnancy is an important stage in every woman’s life and at this stage, it becomes very important for the woman to make sure that she is eating a healthy diet. This is because what she eats and drinks not only determines her health but also the health and wellness of the fetus developing in her womb.
Kiwano is an excellent source of many nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, dietary fibers etc. and presence of these compounds make them very beneficial during the pregnancy and nursing stage.
These compounds aids in providing proper nourishment to the pregnant women and the fetus developing in her, and thus aids in maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Although kiwano is a safe fruit to be eaten during pregnancy, it is advisable to be on the safe side and only eat kiwanos in moderation, and after having a word with your doctor about the same.