Kiwano, horned melon benefits

Kiwano is a very peculiar exotic fruit of African origin . Also, it is known as a horned melon. In addition, adding it to our diet provides us with different benefits to our health.

What is kiwano?

The 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 pulp, very juicy and with white seeds similar to those of the cucumber. It is a true visual spectacle.

As a remarkable characteristic 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 fully mature. Likewise, we cannot ignore that it has an unusual and very interesting shape.

It belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, the same as melon , watermelon or cucumber. However, their size varies and some crops can be occasionally poor.

The kiwano (Cucumis metuliferus) has a length of between 10 and 12 centimeters and a weight of between 160 and 200 grams approximately.

Origin of kiwano

Kiwanos (Cucumis metuliferus) come from the Kalahari desert, in Africa . Likewise, it is a food of habitual consumption among the local population.

It is actually a fruit of wild origin , very aromatic and tasty.

It has been introduced in various neighboring countries, including New Zealand. Its commercial production is currently being evaluated. Currently, it is marketed in Israel, Europe and the United States.

Kiwano cultivation

If the seeds are kept at a warm temperature that is not excessive, germination is good and is completed in a period of 8 to 16 days.

If you germinate properly and stabilize, plants tend to grow quickly. 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 collect them when they are completely orange, a sign that these fruits are ripe.

Kiwano season

The season of these fruits in Spain goes from August to October. However, depending on the area, it can be collected 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.

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You can check the calendar of the  fruit season  to be able to consume these foods at their most optimal moment. In addition, when they are in season they provide us with  more benefits for our health, they have a better aroma and are tastier , among other advantages.

How do you eat kiwano?

We always recommend eating kiwanos fresh. It is an ideal ingredient to eat in salad recipes or as an accompaniment to meats. It has a very characteristic flavor that resembles that of cucumber , but somewhat more acidic and refreshing.

It is ideal for the consumption of the whole family.

How are kiwanos peeled?

Ideally, it should be cut lengthwise with the help of a knife . The pulp can be extracted with the help of a spoon.

Kiwano properties

Kiwano provides us with different vitamins and minerals with an important nutritional value for our health.

Also, this tropical fruit does not contain a lot of protein, fat, or carbohydrates. Therefore, it provides us with few calories.

However, its content in minerals such as potassium is more remarkable .

Average nutritional value per 100 grams of kiwano

Energy42 kcal
Carbohydrates8 g
Protein1,6 g
Fiber2,6 g
Fats0,9 g
Sodium2 mg
Football10 mg
Iron0,4 mg
Match42 mg
Potassium170 mg
Vitamin B10,03 mg
Vitamin B20,01 mg
Vitamin B30,2 mg
C vitamin2 mg

Kiwano benefits

Kiwanos have nutritional properties that make this African fruit a healthy food.

Also, it 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

They are types of fruits that are rich in antioxidants, which are substances that are responsible for neutralizing free radicals.

In addition, antioxidants help us reduce oxidative stress, a problem that worsens with age. Also, antioxidants help us maintain 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 [1] is an essential nutrient for our nutrition, with a function that contributes to our natural defenses.

3. Anti-inflammatory properties

Furthermore, zinc [2] 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 different studies, ingesting large amounts of lutein [3] is associated with a lower risk of developing cataracts.

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5. A hydrating food

Kiwano is made up of more than 80% water. As a consequence, its intake favors our correct hydration.

6. Source of iron to combat anemia

Kiwano is a plant source of iron. However, iron of plant origin is not absorbed by our body as easily as that of animal origin.

The beneficial thing about this type of iron that kiwano contains is that it is accompanied by vitamin C. This combination makes the iron much better absorbed.

Therefore, it is a food that due to its nutritional composition is favorable to combat anemia. [4]

7. Healthy glucose control

Kiwanos have a low glycemic index (GI). Therefore, it makes it easier for your blood sugar not to rise after ingesting it.

An investigation studies the glycemic level of rodents after consuming the pulp of this fruit. The result was the following: it lowered blood sugar in diabetic rodents. In contrast, no changes were seen in rodents without diabetes. In conclusion, it is a study that provides us with positive signs. However, it is not yet proven in people. [5]

Furthermore, magnesium  [6] is a very favorable nutrient 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 into our diet as it is a food of high nutritional value. In short, kiwano is a delicious and nutritious option.

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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