Thorn melon, commonly known as Kiwano is a strange looking fruit that originated from South Africa and has of late been introduced to other parts of the world. It picked its name Kiwano from Kiwi in New Zealand due to its consistency and appearance to kiwi. However, this fruit is not biologically linked to kiwi and is actually closer in nutritive and evolutionary terms to cucumber and zucchini.
The name “thorned melon” comes from the fruit’s unusual appearance, as the outer layer of orange or gold skin is covered in small spikes. The inside of the fruit does have the gelatinous appearance of a kiwi, but the inner layer of fruit pulp is a culinary ingredient. The leaves and roots are also used for various applications, but the fruit is the most highly prized. Its seeds contain high concentrations of beneficial nutrients and organic compounds that make the fruit so healthy.
A number of Kenyans have embraced this fruit as it is believed to lower blood pressure and sugar level. Its therefore a money maker fruit and a number of farmers have benefited from it. According to Mureithi a farmer in Kiambu, kiwano sells between 25 and Ksh 30. He however notes that market fluctuates depending on supply. When there is high demand a kilo of thorn melon goes fo Sh 90 and when the demand is low it goes below to Ksh 70.
Benefits Of Planting Thorn Melon
The healthy benefits are overwhelming as highlighted below. For those interested in making money, this is why you should plant it:
- it’s a drought resistant plant and does not require a lot of water
- its labor friendly. Even when unattended it will still yield
- One plant can yield between 30 to 40 or more depending on care
- The market is readily available. One peace goes for between 10 bob to 30 bob depending on where and it’s a hot cake for those who understands the benefits
- it can thrive in almost all areas
How Thorn Melon Is Used Across The World
- The green jelly-like flesh can be taken with little sugar, or with exotic fruit salad. It can also be utilised like an alternative to vinegar in salads.
- The fruits are also used for ornamental purposes.
- Used in beverages and at times spooned over desserts, ice creams and yoghurts to have an exceptional taste.
- Its leaves are medicinal and are often served cooked as the heat is said to slightly lessen the bitterness in the greens.
- When cooking, the bitter melon leaves are added last to inhibit an overly bitter taste and can be served with rice. The leaves can also be used in curries, fries and soups.
- The leaves are at times mixed with maize or corn meal and can also be used to make a medicinal tea. Younger leaves which have a milder flavour and delicate texture can be used in salads.
- In some countries, the leaves are used as an anti-viral for measles and malaria, diabetes, hypertension and to aid in childbirth.
- In some cultures, various parts of the bitter melon plant, including the leaves, are used as a contraceptive as they have been shown to have an anti-fertility effect in both males and females.
- Boiled roots are also used to treat gonorrhoea in some cultures, according to research.
Health Benefits of Thorn Melon
Thorn melon has many benefits as discussed below:-
Considering that this fruit is more than 80% water, it has the ability to fill you up without packing on any pounds. People trying to lose weight without feeling hungry all the time often reach for a kiwano to stave off hunger pangs. The high concentration of nutrients also keeps your body nutrient-rich, even though the fruit is low in calories and fats.
There are high levels of alpha-tocopherol found in kiwano, which is a potent antioxidant form of vitamin E. This is very important for the health of nerves and blood vessels, while it also seeks out and neutralizes free radicals, the harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause everything from heart diseases to cancer.
The significant levels of vitamin A found in kiwano make it an important booster for vision health. Vitamin A is a type of carotenoid, which acts as an antioxidant for the eye, eliminating free radicals that can cause macular degeneration, while also slowing down or preventing the development of cataracts.
Improves Cognitive Function
Although different nutrients can positively affect the brain, vitamin E is specifically linked to slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The high levels of tocopherol variations in kiwano make it a favorite amongst all who want to keep their minds fresh.
Zinc is a mineral that is often overlooked in human health, but it plays a key role in metabolism and producing protein, which is necessary for wound healing and repair of organs, tissues, blood vessels, and cells. The high content of vitamin C is a perfect complement to the zinc found in kiwano, as ascorbic acid is a key component of collagen, which is another key material in repair and growth.
Between vitamin A, C, natural antioxidants, and abundant organic compounds, kiwano is wonderful for staying young, both inside and out. It is known to protect the integrity of the skin and reduce age spots and wrinkles, in addition to lessening the appearance of scars and blemishes. These important nutrients keep the body younger by preventing the onset of chronic diseases through their intense antioxidant activity.
Relieves Stress & Anxiety
Research has connected some of the organic compounds in kiwano with the regulation of hormones, particularly adrenaline and other stress hormones. If you suffer from chronic stress or feel anxious, eating some kiwano can quickly ease your mind and get your body back to a calm, relaxed state.
Aids in Digestion
The high fiber content in kiwano makes it an ideal digestive aid. Dietary fiber helps to stimulate peristaltic motion and clear out the gastrointestinal tract, keeping your bowel movements regular and preventing cramping, bloating, constipation, and serious conditions like gastric ulcers or colon cancer. Dietary fiber is also a key element of heart health, as it helps to regulate the level of cholesterol in the body; it even helps to regulate insulin receptors, thereby preventing or managing diabetes.
Increases Bone Strength
Kiwanos are also turned to for their high mineral content, particularly for calcium, in order to boost bone strength and prevent the onset of osteoporosis. While the other minerals in kiwano, including zinc, are important for bone development, growth, repair, and integrity, calcium is the most desirable mineral for our bone health.