African Horned Melon grows wild in the Kalahari Desert and for the inhabitants of the desert, it is one of the only main source of water during dry season. This melon is a traditional food plant in Africa. Natives in Zimbabwe call it gaka or gakachika. It was the New Zealanders who successfully marketed this weird looking fruit for more than 80 years and made it popularly known as Kiwano. It is currently cultivated in Australia, Europe and the United States.
Kiwano or Cucumis metuliferus belong the cucumber family and is closely related to zucchini and cucumber. They are shrubs which grow 3 to 5 meters high. It has a yellow to bright orange color skin with spikes all over. Inside the fruit you will find hundreds of green emerald seeds which are gelatinous and with complex flavors. This melon turns from green to bright orange when ripe and has a mix taste of lime, cucumber and banana. It is in season during the months of October to March.
This super fruit is full of nutrition. It is a rich source of vitamins A, C and E, fatty acids like oleic and linoleic acids, and a host of essential mineral. It can give you about 4 grams of protein for a 1 cup serving and with only 103 calories. This melon is also fat free and cholesterol free.
Kiwano contain a-tocopherol and y-tocopherol, both of which are powerful antioxidant that can counter the damaging effects of free radicals responsible for chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Both antioxidants are organic form of vitamin E and are said to benefit the heart, nerves, muscles, skin and the red blood cells. Vitamin E has the capacity to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
It can strengthen the immune system and is helpful in maintaining good eyesight because of the rich supply of beta-carotene or vitamin A. Kiwano is also one of the best sources of magnesium, the fourth most important mineral in our body. It is utilized as part of various metabolic reactions, including the regulation of the right blood sugar level. Deficiency of this mineral can lead to diabetes and some other chronic diseases.
Kiwano melon is effective in the treatment hemophilia, a medical condition where the ability of the blood to clot is critically reduced and cause the victim to bleed severely. It is antiviral and can expel worms and other parasites in the intestine. The root of this plant when boiled is an excellent cure for gonorrhea.
A relatively safe fruit to eat when ripe. The green bitter form may cause toxicity when eaten and must therefore be avoided.
The shell would make a fascinating salad vessel, don’t you think?
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