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Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a pregnant woman’s diet, as they provide the mother with the much-needed vitamins, minerals and fibre for the growth and development of the baby. Among fruits, the melon family that grows predominantly during summer is loaded with antioxidants and anti-coagulants apart from the regular vitamins and minerals. One such melon, the muskmelon, is a superfood for expecting mothers. Read on to know more about how it plays a critical role in the health of a developing baby.
Is Eating Muskmelon (Kharbuja) During Pregnancy Safe?
Yes, muskmelon is a very safe fruit for pregnancy if taken in moderation. The fruit is low in calorie count and high in nutrients and fibre, making it a very safe and healthy snack option for the expecting mother. Sometimes, a strain of bacteria called Listeria bacteria is found on the outer peel of the fruit, which can be harmful to pregnant women. Some doctors may ask you to avoid it for this reason. However, the fruit itself is safe to consume if cleaned thoroughly.
Nutritional Facts of Muskmelon
Muskmelon has plenty of essential vitamins and minerals. It is rich in vitamin A, B1 and C and minerals like iron, calcium, and phosphorous. The fruit also carries a good amount of folic acid or vitamin B9. It is the most important vitamin required during pregnancy as it prevents neural tube defects in babies. It also contains zinc, which is required for the proper tissue development of the foetus. Muskmelons also are a rich source of antioxidants and anticoagulants (properties that prevent the formation of clots).
Benefits of Muskmelon During Pregnancy
There are numerous health benefits of consuming muskmelon or kharbuja during pregnancy.
1. Prevents Tube Defects
The neural tube of the baby that develops into the brain and spinal cord are formed during the first trimester. Consumption of folic acid-rich muskmelon augments the daily dose of vitamin B9 required for it and helps prevent the occurrence of any neural tube defects in babies. This is one of the most important benefits of eating cantaloupe during pregnancy.
2. Prevents Blood Clots
One of the complications that can arise during pregnancy is the clotting of blood. Although it is very rare, the consumption of muskmelon helps in thinning the blood and preventing such clots.
3. Improves Immunity
Muskmelon contains carotenoids that act as antioxidants and prevent the formation of free radicals in the body. This greatly helps in the formation of new cells and also in improving the immunity of the mother and the baby.
4. Aids in Digestion
Heartburn is a common problem associated with pregnancy for expecting mothers in the second and third trimester. One of the foods that can calm your digestive system in such a case is muskmelon. The vitamin C in muskmelon aids digestion and absorption.
5. Prevents Anaemia
Anaemia during pregnancy can be dangerous for the mother and the foetus. Consumption of muskmelon can keep a check on anaemia as it contains a good quantity of iron and vitamin C. Vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron into the digestive system, making it available for the body to use.
6. Helps With Leg Cramps
Many pregnant women experience cramps in their legs, especially in the night. Leg cramps occur due to potassium deficiency, and muskmelon helps in supplementing the body with the much-needed mineral.
7. Develops Baby’s Eyesight
A baby’s eyes start developing in the first trimester of pregnancy and achieve full vascularisation towards the end of the pregnancy. During this time, consuming a good source of vitamin A like muskmelon greatly reduces the risk of any ophthalmological abnormalities in the foetus.
8. Regulates Blood Pressure
During pregnancy, many mothers tend to develop blood pressure which can lead to complications. Muskmelon contains a good mix of essential mineral salts that help regulate blood pressure and keep hypertension in check.
9. Relieves Constipation
Consumption of muskmelon during pregnancy can go a long way in preventing constipation. Many times, expecting mothers suffer from constipation due to a lack of dietary fibre intake. The digestion-aiding vitamins and fibre in kharbuja ensure a good bowel movement during pregnancy.
10. Aids Weight Management
Muskmelon is a great binge food as it is low in calories. Mothers can consume the fruit as a daytime snack to achieve a sense of fullness of the stomach and thereby control their pregnancy cravings, which can lead to lesser weight gain. The fructose in the fruit is very minimal and does not contribute to weight gain.
11. Enhances Baby’s Bone Health
The baby’s bones and teeth formed during pregnancy require calcium from the mother. To supplement this requirement, a pregnant mother can take a serving of a calcium-rich muskmelon every day.
12. Helps in Post-Partum Recovery
The mother’s body requires ample nutrition to recover from the process of delivery. The vitamin A present in muskmelons, when consumed during pregnancy, is stored in the liver which greatly adds to the process of recovery of the new mother.
13. Source of Energy
Although not a high-calorie food, muskmelon is a good source of proteins and carbohydrates that burn to get converted into energy. During pregnancy, it gives the much-needed energy to fuel the activities of both the baby and the mother.
Are There Any Adverse Effects of Having Muskmelon (Cantaloupe) During Pregnancy?
Cantaloupe or muskmelon is a very safe fruit for consumption during pregnancy. If you have heard from people around you to avoid the fruit, it could be because of the Listeria bacteria that is sometimes found on its surface. It can find its way into your body if the fruit is not washed well enough. The bacteria can cause listeriosis, which is associated with some complications in pregnancy. Also, it not advisable for women who have a known allergy to the fruit to consume it. Other than that, muskmelon is a very safe and nutritious fruit for expecting mothers.
Safe Ways of Eating Cantaloupes When Pregnant
To avoid any instance of listeriosis, it is very important to wash and clean the fruit properly before consuming it. To clean the skin of the cantaloupe, wash it thoroughly under running water and immerse it for a few seconds in diluted vinegar. Then again wash it with water before cutting it open. Ensure that the knife and cutting board are cleaned properly.
Consumption of a clean melon during pregnancy does not cause any harm to the body and serves as a powerhouse of nutrients for the expecting mother.
Muskmelon is a gift from nature for all the diet-conscious mothers who want to eat healthily and keep themselves hydrated throughout their pregnancy. If you have any allergic reaction to the fruit, please talk to a trusted medical professional before consuming more.
Resources and References: Medical News Today
Also Read: Should Pregnant Women Eat Blueberries?