Winter melon, also known as a wax ground, Chinese watermelon, or white pumpkin, winter melon is a fruit that looks like watermelon but tastes like cucumber.

What Is Winter Melon?

It’s dark green with an oblong shape. It has white flesh and seeds, and unlike most fruits, it cannot be eaten raw. The fruit is often treated as a vegetable, and you must remove the skin and seeds before cooking it.

It also should slightly cook to prevent it from getting marshy. The cooking methods often used include simmering, steaming, roasting, grilling, or parboiling for about 5 minutes.

Winter melon is native to some parts of Asia and belongs to the gourd family together with zucchini, cucumber, and melon.

It’s often referred to as winter melon because you can store it for many months without spoiling. For instance, if harvested in the late summer, it can be eaten for 3 to 4 months during the winter.

Winter melon has various health benefits and has been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

winter melon on a vine

Here are the Proven Health Benefits of Winter Melon

1.   It’s low in calories

If you’re on a weight-loss journey and looking for low-calorie foods, or you simply want to limit your daily calorie intake, winter melon may be a great inclusion in your diet. It’s generally made up of water and fiber, just like watermelon, and may help initiate early satiety.

Mainly, winter melon contains soluble fiber which soaks up water to form a gel-like substance as it moves through the gut. This may slow digestion and promote feelings of fullness, preventing you from overeating. It may also reduce your energy intake in your next meal.

Research also suggests that fruits rich in fiber can lead to low-calorie intake, leading to weight loss.

Whether you want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, winter melon offers the amount of fiber needed to help your body do exactly that.

2.   It’s rich in fiber

Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet. It helps improve digestion, promote bowel movements, prevent constipation, and enhance gut health. The high soluble fiber in winter melons helps fight inflammation, lower cholesterol, regulate glucose levels, and lower your ability to absorb fat.

Overall, fruits high in dietary fiber have been shown to offer protection against gastrointestinal conditions, including diverticular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation.

3.   It’s rich in antioxidants

Antioxidants help safeguard the body against free radicals that may cause inflammation and cell damage leading to disease formation. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods helps fight inflammatory responses in the body as well as delays cellular damage.

Research shows that winter melon is rich in antioxidants, including flavonoids, polyphenols, and anthocyanins, which prevent inflammation and neutralize free radicles in the body.

4.  It may boost your vision

Winter melon is rich in vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin. Vitamin B2 is an antioxidant that maintains normal vision by protecting your eyes against damage from the free radicals in the body.

Diets rich in vitamin B2 have been associated with a lower risk of developing eye conditions such as cataracts and damage to the eye lens, which may lead to cloudy vision.

Daily consumption of approximately 1.1-1.3 mg of riboflavin is recommended to avoid the associated deficiency symptoms. You don’t really have to measure, but incorporating riboflavin-rich foods, including winter melon in your daily diet may provide sufficient amounts.

5.   Improves cognitive function

Winter melon contains reasonable amounts of iron and may help prevent iron deficiency symptoms.

Iron is essential for growth and development and the transportation of oxygen throughout the body, including the lungs and the brain which uses oxygen as the primary source of fuel.

6.   It may boost the immune system

Winter melon is a powerful immune booster as it can offer up to 19 percent of your daily vitamin C requirements. Vitamin C is essential for the production of immune-boosting cells such as white blood cells, which help fight infections and attack disease-causing pathogens.

Winter melon also contains iron and zinc, which play an essential role in strengthening the immune system even further.

7.   It may help in the management of migraines

If you suffer migraines, winter melon provides up to 8 percent of your daily riboflavin requirements, which has been shown to help decrease the frequency of migraines in adults.

For better migraine control, include other riboflavin-rich foods such as avocado, quinoa, almonds, and riboflavin fortified foods in your daily diet.

8.   Improves energy levels

Winter melons may keep you hydrated and full of energy. The riboflavin in them helps break down nutrients such as protein, fats, and carbohydrates. It specifically converts carbohydrates into ATP, the form of energy for different body processes.

In combination with vitamin A, riboflavin may also help maintain a healthy liver, promote a healthy mucous membrane in your digestive tract, keep the eyes, skin, and muscles healthy, and facilitate hormone production by the adrenal gland.

9.   Prevents flu and cold

Winter melon is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant and powerful immune booster that prevents viruses and flu.

Vitamin C may also protect against lung infections, including pneumonia.

How to Eat Winter Melon?

You can add cooked winter melon to stews, stir-fries, soups, casseroles, curries, sweet dishes, smoothies, etc.

In conclusion

Winter melon is an ancient fruit often eaten as a vegetable.

It has been used traditionally for the treatment of different ailments but also for various recipes.

It’s low in calories but rich in water and other nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and zinc.

Regular consumption of winter melon may help promote digestive health, destroy harmful free radicals that may cause disease, improve eye health, boost the immune system, prevent migraines, increase energy levels, and help fight against cold and flu.

To eat it, you must first peel off the skin since it’s not edible. You can then slightly cook it to prevent it from overcooking. Cooked winter melon can be added to different recipes of choice, including soups, stir-fries, smoothies, etc.

whole winter melons stacked on each other

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