Cantaloupe, with its refreshingly rich flavor, aroma and minimal calories, has become one of the most popular melons in the United States. The cantaloupe derives its name from the Italian village of Cantaloupe, where it was first cultivated around 1700 A.D. and is actually a muskmelon. It belongs to the same family as the cucumber, squash, pumpkin and gourd and like many of its relatives, grows on the ground on a trailing vine. Nutrients found in cantaloupe include vitamins A, C, B3, and B6. Other nutrients include potassium, folate, and dietary fiber. These nutrients help to promote lung health, protect your vision, and provide high antioxidants for protection of free radicals, as well as healthy hair and skin.
As mentioned in earlier Health and Fitness Tip articles, vitamin A, a common anti-oxidant, is a great promoter of lung health especially in smokers. Research has shown that a vitamin A-deficient diet showed a correlation to the development of emphysema in smokers and those exposed to second hand smoke and that a diet rich in vitamin A can help reduce the risks. Research also suggests that vitamin A maybe helpful in treating diseases caused by viruses and preventing certain cancers. In addition, vitamin A and beta-carotene are important vision nutrients helping to reduce risks of macular degeneration and cataracts. In the hair department, vitamin A aids in the production of sebum (your hair’s natural conditioner) in the scalp. Cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamin A and beta carotene. One cup (160 grams) of cubed cantaloupe will provide you with 103.2% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A.
Another antioxidant found in cantaloupe is vitamin C. Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant in water-soluble areas of the body (where beta-carotene and vitamin A are fat-soluble antioxidants). Between its beta-carotene and vitamin C content, cantaloupe pretty much has all areas covered against damage from free radicals. Vitamin C, as it is commonly known for, is critical for good immune function by stimulating white blood cells to fight infection, directly killing many bacteria and viruses and regenerating vitamin E after it has been inactivated by disarming free radicals. A single serving of cantaloupe will provide you with about 112% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to promote a healthy scalp and hair though its anti-oxidant activity. An interesting study I ran across from the University of Innsbruck in Austria suggests that as fruits fully ripen, reportedly almost to the point of spoilage, the antioxidant levels in said fruits actually increases.
On a side note, here are just a few quick tips on cantaloupe. Bacteria can grow on the surface of most melons, so it’s important to wash the outside of the melon before cutting into it. Some serving tips include topping cantaloupe slices with low-fat yogurt and chopped mint. Another interesting serving tip I came across was pureeing cantaloupe and peeled soft peaches in a blender or food processor to make a cold soup.
Summers is on the way and with it come the short shorts, skirts, and swimsuits. Want to get your bum for summer? Try incorporating these easy exercises into your fitness routine to help sculpt and tone your bottom. The whole routine takes about 15 minutes and can be done in the gym, outside, at home, pretty much anywhere where there is a low bench or low wall. These exercises can be done with or without dumbbells. Start with one set per exercise (each side if the exercise is unilateral) and follow the workout to the end. If you would like to do more than one set, go through the exercises to the end and then start again at the first exercise.
This will serve as your warm-up. Stand with your feet shoulder-width with the knees and hips inline. Slightly contract your abdominals to stabilize your torso and spine. Slowly bend the knees and lower your body like your sitting down in a chair. Lower your bottom until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Slowly return to start. Repeat for 15 reps.
Stand tall with good posture. Holding a dumbbell in each had is optional. Step forward with the right food, keeping the head up and spine neutral. Drop your left knee towards the floor by bending both knees. Make sure to keep your front heel down and the knee directly over the center of the foot. Push down and forward though your heel to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side, alternating for eight to 12 reps per side.
Quadruped and Step ups:
This is a super set exercise. Start with the quadruped: On your hands and knees slightly contract our abdominals to stabilize your torso and spine. Lift one leg up, keeping your knee at 90 degrees so that the bottom of your foot is facing the ceiling and the leg is in line with the body. Repeat on the same side for 8 to 12 reps. Next is the step up: Stand with good posture behind a tall step or box (if you’re outside you can use a park bench or if you’re in your home you can use stairs or a step stool). Weights are optional. Place your left food on the box (or whatever you may be using) and shift your weight to that leg. Push down with your left foot and then straighten your leg lifting yourself up to the top of the box. This should mimic walking up the stairs two at a time. Use the left leg only keeping the right passive. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps on the same side. Switch sides by starting with the quadruped on the other side.
Finally, Single-leg Squat:
This one is pretty easy. Start by standing on a box or bench, or stair with your weight on your left leg and your right knee slightly bent so that your right foot is behind you and out of the way. Bend the weight bearing (left) knee and lower yourself while pushing the hips back. Push down though the heel and come up. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps and change sides.
These are some of my favorite exercises for the bum because not only do they shape the bottom but they also help to strengthen and tone the legs. This exercise can also be used as part of a circuit training routine as well.
Until next week…