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Melon

CUCUMIS MELO

Melon (or muskmelon) belongs to the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae. Native to Africa, this annual herbaceous plant has long creeping or climbing vines, depending on the variety. The fruits are large modified (“false”) berries called pepos.

CHARACTERISTICS

Melon is an excellent source of vitamins A, E and C, potassium and folic acid. It is rich in antioxidants, especially superoxide dismutase (SOD) and also glutathione peroxidase and catalase. It contains significant quantities of the co-enzyme Q10, lipoic acid, glutathione and selenium.

PROPERTIES

  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties:

SOD acts as both an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory in the body. It is able to induce the production of interleukin 10 (IL-10) by anti-inflammatory macrophages and to reduce the production of TNF-alpha.

A 2004 study by VOULDOUKIS & al. showed that melon SOD strengthens endogenous cellular antioxidant defences and protects against cell death caused by oxidative stress.

ASML & al. (2019) used melon pulp concentrate as a feed supplement for piglets. Piglets often have impaired antioxidant status and poor immune response during post-weaning. This leads to lower growth rates and has adverse effects on their health. After one month, the group of piglets that had been fed melon concentrate showed improved growth performance and positive effects on half-haemolysis time of red blood cells and total antioxidant capacity. These changes were not observed in the control group.

  • Cancer:

Chronic inflammation produces reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can lead to other diseases, such as cancer. In turn, cancer cells reduce SOD activity.

It is therefore beneficial to supplement the diet of cancer patients with melon. Mice with fibrosarcoma administered an SOD supplement show decreased oxidative stress levels in tumour tissue and increased concentrations of SOD, which can be correlated with a reduction in metastasis (ROMAO, 2014).

  • Infectious disease:

A 2008 study by WEBB & al. looked at the use of melon in cats infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). They found that, following supplementation, SOD levels were higher and the CD4+ to CD8+ ratio increased significantly without any change in viral load.

  • Heart disease:

In hypertensive rats, the use of melon pulp concentrate inhibits the harmful consequences of hypertension for the heart.

Melon has anti-hypertrophic and anti-fibrotic effects, because it both strengthens antioxidant defences and restores the mechanisms of action of relaxin and natriuretic peptide (CARILLON & al., 2016).

In cases of chronic hypertension, melon concentrate administered for four days was found to reduce cardiomyocyte size, eliminate collagen deposition and boost endogenous antioxidant defences.

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