Muskmelon: What Is It and How Is It Different from Cantaloupe?

Muskmelon: What Is It and How Is It Different from Cantaloupe?


Written by Rachael Link, MS, RD on April 12, 2019

In addition to its unique flavor, muskmelon provides a wealth of important nutrients and has been associated with many health benefits.

However, it’s often confused with other melons like cantaloupe.

This article looks at the nutritional value, health benefits, and culinary uses of muskmelon, including how it differs from cantaloupe.

Muskmelon vs. cantaloupe

Muskmelon, also known as Cucumis melo, is a species of melon that belongs to the gourd family. It’s closely related to other plants like squash, pumpkin, zucchini, and watermelon (1Trusted Source).

Muskmelon has ribbed, netted or smooth skin and a sweet, or bland flavor with or without a musky aroma.

Over the years, many unique varieties of muskmelon have emerged, including cantaloupe.

The term “cantaloupe” refers to two varieties of muskmelon: the North American cantaloupe (C. melo var. reticulatus) and the European cantaloupe (C. melo var. cantalupensis).

Given that both types of cantaloupe are a variety of muskmelon, their nutritional contents and health benefits are similar.

However, the skin of the North American cantaloupe has a net-like appearance and a subtler, less distinct flavor. Meanwhile, the European cantaloupe has light green skin and sweeter flesh.

While all cantaloupes are muskmelons, not all muskmelons are cantaloupes.

In addition to cantaloupe, other varieties of muskmelon include honeydew, Persian melon, and Santa Claus melon.


Muskmelon is a species that belongs to the gourd family. Cantaloupe refers to two varieties of muskmelon, which differ slightly in terms of flavor and appearance but share a similar set of nutrients and health benefits.

Nutritional value

Muskmelons are nutrient-dense and provide a wide assortment of important vitamins and minerals.

They are especially high in vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin that helps prevent disease and strengthens immune function (2Trusted Source).

Some types also contain a good amount of vitamin A, a micronutrient that’s essential for healthy vision, skin cell turnover, and growth and development (3Trusted Source).

Additionally, muskmelons contain antioxidants, which are compounds that fight cellular damage. Antioxidants in muskmelons include gallic acid, ellagic acid, and caffeic acid (4Trusted Source).

One cup (156 grams) of diced cantaloupe, a type of muskmelon, contains the following nutrients (5Trusted Source):

  • Calories: 53
  • Carbs: 13 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Vitamin C: 64% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Vitamin A: 29% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDI
  • Folate: 8% of the RDI
  • Niacin: 7% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 7% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 5% of the RDI
  • Thiamine: 5% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 3% of the RDI

To compare, 1 cup (170 grams) of honeydew, another type of muskmelon, contains the following nutrients (5Trusted Source):

  • Calories: 61
  • Carbs: 15 grams
  • Fiber: 1.5 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Vitamin C: 34% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 2% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 8% of the RDI
  • Folate: 8% of the RDI
  • Niacin: 4% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 9% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
  • Thiamine: 5% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 4% of the RDI

Noticeably, the nutritional compositions of muskmelon varieties are similar. However, cantaloupe contains significantly more vitamin A and vitamin C than honeydew. It also has fewer calories and carbs and is slightly higher in fiber.


Muskmelons are packed with vitamins and minerals. Cantaloupe is higher in vitamins A and C than honeydew, but otherwise, these two types of muskmelon are nutritionally similar.

Health benefits
Muskmelon is highly nutritious and has been associated with impressive health benefits.

Here are a few of the top health benefits of eating muskmelon.

Supports immune function

Muskmelon is a great source of vitamin C, a micronutrient that is essential for your immune health.

Some research shows that getting enough vitamin C can reduce the severity and duration of respiratory infections like the common cold (6Trusted Source).

Muskmelon also contains vitamin A, another nutrient that can boost your immunity by aiding in the development of white blood cells, which help protect your body against infection and disease (7Trusted Source).

Plus, it’s rich in important antioxidants like caffeic acid and ellagic acid. These antioxidants not only protect your cells against harmful molecules called free radicals but also help prevent chronic conditions like heart disease (4Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

Promotes weight loss

Muskmelon could aid weight loss in several ways.

First, it’s nutrient-dense, meaning that it’s low in calories, yet high in many of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs for optimal health and proper functioning.

It also has a high water content of about 90% water by weight, which can help you meet your hydration needs and may support weight loss (5Trusted Source).

One large review of 13 studies including 3,628 people found that eating larger amounts of low-calorie foods with a high water content was linked to greater reductions in body weight over periods ranging from 8 weeks to 6 years (9Trusted Source).

Muskmelon also contains a good amount of fiber, which supports healthy digestion. Fiber also helps keep you feeling full between meals, which can limit your overall food intake and support weight loss (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).

Decreases inflammation

Acute inflammation is a normal immune response that helps your body fight infection and heal. However, chronic inflammation could contribute to the development of conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (12Trusted Source).

According to one animal study, cantaloupe extract has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. This may be due to its content of superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant that helps decrease oxidative damage to cells (13Trusted Source).

Muskmelon is also rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients that act as powerful antioxidants in your body, including vitamins C and A (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

Some research shows that muskmelon may help support immune function, promote weight loss, and decrease inflammation.

Culinary uses
Muskmelon is delicious, refreshing, and easy to add to your diet.

It can be cut into cubes and enjoyed alone or as part of a tasty fruit salad. It can also be churned into a fresh sorbet for a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Additionally, you can add this nutritious melon to salads or smoothies for a burst of extra flavor and nutrition.

What’s more, you can wash, dry, and roast the seeds of muskmelon for a satisfying snack. Alternatively, try sprinkling them over soups and salads.

The flesh and seeds of muskmelon can be enjoyed in many ways in main dishes, desserts, and snacks alike.

The bottom line
Muskmelon is a popular type of melon that’s celebrated for its sweet flavor and impressive nutrient profile. Cantaloupe is a specific variety of muskmelon.

Aside from supplying many important vitamins and minerals, muskmelon may help improve your immune function, promote weight loss, and reduce inflammation.

Furthermore, it makes a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet and can be used in a number of different dishes.

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