Melons are a sweet and delicious way to boost your fiber intake. As an added bonus, the high water content helps keep you hydrated during hot summer months. Snack on your favorite melon, whether it be honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon or another variety, as a low-calorie treat. Melons also pair perfectly with several other foods.
One cup of diced cantaloupe or honeydew melon each offer about 1.5 grams of fiber. Watermelon has a lower fiber content, providing slightly more than .5 grams per 1-cup serving. You need 14 grams of fiber in your diet for every 1,000 calories you consume, reports the Colorado State University Extension school. So if you consume a 1,600-calorie daily diet, you'll need 23 grams of fiber each day. One cup of either cantaloupe or honeydew has roughly 6 percent of your total daily fiber needs for a 1,600-calorie diet, whereas the same serving size of watermelon only offers around 2 percent.
Melon provides both soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which are equally beneficial in your body. Soluble fiber attracts fluid in your digestive tract. As it swells and thickens, it slows digestion. Soluble fiber delays the absorption of sugar, stabilizing blood glucose levels, and also lowers cholesterol levels by pushing excess cholesterol out through waste. You may notice feeling full after consuming soluble fiber-rich foods, like melons, because soluble fiber delays emptying of your stomach. Food stays in your stomach for a while, keeping you satisfied for an extended period of time and improving satiety.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to fecal matter, softening stools and making them easier to pass. If you're constipated or irregular, insoluble fiber speeds digestion and relieves irregularity. Insoluble fiber also helps prevent diverticular disease, a condition that causes pouches to form in your intestinal tract. When food and waste particles get stuck in the pouches, they become inflamed and you experience severe abdominal pain, a disorder called diverticulitis. Because insoluble fiber speeds up the passage of waste, food is less likely to get backed up and stuck in your gut, minimizing your risk of developing this painful condition. Since melons have both soluble and insoluble types of fiber, you'll have maximum health and digestive benefits.
Snacking on cubed melon as a morning snack is a quick way to boost your fiber intake to tide you over until lunch. If you're bored with plain mixed melon fruit salads, there are several other ways to add more melon to your diet. Scoop out melon balls with a melon baller. Place the balls on a long skewer and pop them in the freezer. After a few hours, you'll have a delicious healthy frozen treat. Another option is adding cubed watermelon to salads. Watermelon pairs seamlessly with spinach, goat cheese, grilled chicken and your other favorite ingredients. Enjoy cantaloupe or honeydew for breakfast with cottage cheese. You'll get a jumpstart on your daily fiber needs, in addition to adding calcium to your morning meal.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.