kiwano is a very exotic and peculiar fruit of African origin. It is also known as horned melon. In addition, there are several health benefits to be gained by including it in your diet.
What is kiwano?
Kiwano fruit (Cucumis metuliferus) is a fruit with a very particular shape, flavor and aroma. It is also known as horned melon, horned cucumber or wild cucumber.
Its skin is thick and thorny. The fruits are ripe when they have a bright orange skin. In addition, it has a juicy green flesh, very juicy and with white seeds similar to those of the cucumber. It is a real visual spectacle.
As a remarkable feature we can say that they can be kept for long periods of time in a dry environment. However, they deteriorate quickly if they are in humid environments.
They need heat in summer to ripen completely. Also, we cannot forget that it has an unusual and very interesting shape.
It belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, the same as the melon, watermelon or cucumber. However, its size varies and some harvests can occasionally be poor.
The kiwano (Cucumis metuliferus) has a length of between 10 and 12 centimeters and weighs between 160 and 200 grams approximately.
Origin of kiwano melon
Kiwanos (Cucumis metuliferus) come from the Kalahari Desert in Africa. It is also a common food consumed by the local population.
It is actually a fruit of wild origin, very aromatic and tasty.
It has been introduced in several surrounding countries, including New Zealand. Commercial production is currently being evaluated. It is currently marketed in Israel, Europe and the United States.
If the seeds are kept at a warm temperature that is not excessive, germination is good and is completed within 8 to 16 days.
If germinated correctly and stabilized, the plants usually grow rapidly. Consequently, they flower and bear fruit in a period of 6 to 8 weeks.
In addition, we have to add about seven more weeks for the fruit to ripen. It is advisable to harvest them when they are completely orange, a sign that these fruits are ripe.
The season of these fruits in Spain goes from August to October. However, depending on the area, it can be harvested until the end of the year. On the other hand, this tropical fruit can be imported from other countries, so we can find it in our markets throughout the year.
You can consult the seasonal calendar of fruits to be able to consume these foods at their optimal time. In addition, when they are in season they provide us with more health benefits, have a better aroma and are tastier, among other advantages.
How to eat kiwano?
We always recommend eating kiwanos in their natural state. It is an ideal ingredient to eat in salad recipes or as an accompaniment to meats. It has a very characteristic flavor that resembles cucumber, but somewhat more acidic and refreshing.
It is ideal for consumption by the whole family.
How do you peel kiwanos?
Ideally, it should be cut lengthwise with the help of a knife. The pulp can be extracted with the help of a spoon.
The kiwano provides us with different vitamins and minerals with an important nutritional value for our health.
Also, this tropical fruit does not contain many proteins, fats or carbohydrates. Therefore, it is low in calories.
However, its content in minerals such as potassium is more notable.
Average nutritional value per 100 grams of kiwano
|Vitamin B1||0.03 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.01 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.2 mg|
|Vitamin C||2 mg|
Benefits of kiwano
Kiwanos have nutritional properties that make this African fruit a healthy food.
It also provides us with a variety of vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy diet. In addition, it is a low-calorie food. However, it is a tropical fruit with above average protein.
Among its benefits we can highlight the following:
1. An antioxidant fruit
These fruits are rich in antioxidants, which are substances that neutralize free radicals.
In addition, antioxidants help us to reduce oxidative stress, a problem that worsens with age. Antioxidants also help us to maintain a healthy and radiant skin.
The main antioxidants in kiwano melon are vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc and lutein.
2. Helps strengthen our natural defenses
Vitamin C  is an essential nutrient for our nutrition, with a role that contributes to our natural defenses.
3. Anti-inflammatory properties
In addition, zinc  plays a very important role in our diet, being an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
4. Favorable for eye health
On the other hand, lutein, also called “the eye vitamin”, is a vitamin closely related to eye health. According to several studies, ingesting large amounts of lutein  is associated with a lower risk of developing cataracts.
5. A moisturizing food
The kiwano is composed of more than 80% water. As a consequence, its intake favors our correct hydration.
6. A source of iron to fight anemia
The kiwano is a vegetable source of iron. However, iron of vegetable origin is not absorbed by our body as easily as that of animal origin.
What is beneficial about this type of iron contained in the kiwano is that it is accompanied by vitamin C. This combination makes the iron much better absorbed.
Therefore, it is a food that by its nutritional composition is favorable to combat anemia. 
7. Healthy glucose control
Kiwanos have a low glycemic index (GI). Therefore, it facilitates that it does not increase the sugar in blood after ingesting it.
A research studies the glycemic level of rodents after consuming the pulp of this fruit. The result was as follows: it reduced blood sugar in diabetic rodents. On the contrary, no changes were perceived in rodents without diabetes. In conclusion, it is a study that gives us some positive indications. However, it has not yet been demonstrated in humans.
In addition, magnesium is a nutrient very favorable for the correct metabolism of glucose and insulin in our body.
Finally, we can say that this fruit of African origin is ideal to incorporate it into our diet because it is a food of high nutritional value. In short, the kiwano is a delicious and nutritious option.