Kiwano or African horned cucumber

Cucumis metuliferus, horned melon or kiwano, also called African horned cucumber or melon, jelly melon, hedged gourd, or melano, is an annual vine in the cucumber and melon family. Often known by its nickname in the southeastern United States, blowfish fruit, it is grown for its fruit, which look like oval melons with horn-like spines. The fruit of this plant is edible, but it is used as often for decoration as for food. When ripe, it has a yellow-orange skin and a lime green, jelly-like flesh with a tart taste, and texture similar to a cucumber. The horned melon is native to Africa, and it is now grown in California, Mississippi, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand, as well.

In Zimbabwe, this cucumber is called gaka or gakachika, and it is primarily used as a fruit-snack, salad, and, rarely, for decoration. It is eaten young, mature green, or when ripe, bright yellow/orange (i.e., at any stage of its development). It grows naturally in the fields and also in the bush. However, some people leave some to rot in the fields for the next summer’s seeds/plants. Its taste has been compared to a combination of cucumber and zucchini or a combination of banana, cucumber and lemon.

Some eat the peel, as well. The fibrous structure and protein composition of the peel provides for a taste and texture similar to the plantain family. One variety does not have horns, but looks and tastes similar. The seeds are covered in a gel-like substance. The skin is very rich in vitamin C and fiber. A small amount of salt or sugar can increase the flavor. The fruit can be used in cooking, but when eaten raw, most suck out the pulp and spit out the seeds.

A traditional food plant in Africa, this fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare. Along with the Gemsbok cucumber, it is the only source of water during the dry season in the Kalahari desert. Despite the fruit’s colorful appearance, it has not found any significant uses in Western cuisine, and has been called “astringent”, and the prices “exorbitant”.

Horned Melons are varying in size from 8 centimeters (3.2 in) to 10 centimeters (4 in) long & 4 -5 centimeters (1.5-2 in) in diameter.

According to the research, the average weight of a Horned Melon is 209 grams.

Horned melons are available during the summer. Horned melons are generally sweet and tart, although the taste has been compared to cucumber or combination of Cucumber and banana. One cup of Horned Melon 233 grams contains 103 kilo calories. According to USAD major nutrients contain in this fruit are Iron (32.88%), Magnesium (22.14%), Vitamin C (13.67%), Phosphorus (12.29%), and Vitamin B6 (11.31%).

Kiwano is good for your eyes

The health of your eyes depends to a great extent on the food that you eat. Vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E are essential to improve your vision and to maintain healthy eyes. Kiwano is a good source of these vitamins and also beta-carotene, which gets converted into vitamin A inside your body.

Kiwano and digestive health

Kiwano is rich in magnesium, which is an important mineral needed for proper digestion. Magnesium stimulates the production of enzymes that help your body to absorb the nutrients from the food that you eat and use them effectively.  Kiwano also contains moderate amounts of fiber that helps in normalizing your bowel movements and in preventing constipation.

Kiwano and weight loss

Kiwano is a low calorie fruit, almost 90% of which is composed of water. A 100 gram serving of this fruit gives out only 44 calories. Moreover, the fiber and water content in kiwano makes you feel fuller, thereby helping to control your appetite. These features make it a wonderful snack to be included in your weight loss diet.

Kiwano for diabetics

Kiwano is a healthy fruit with low calories and low glycemic index. It is a rich source of magnesium that helps in regulating the blood sugar levels. Hence kiwano is a good choice of food to be made part of a diabetic diet.

Kiwano lowers high blood pressure

Kiwano is a rich source of potassium, which is very effective in lowering high blood pressure. Potassium helps to lower blood pressure by balancing the amount of sodium in your blood. In addition to potassium, kiwano also contains oleic acid that has been found to have blood pressure lowering effects.

Kiwano and cholesterol

Kiwano contains oleic acid, which is very effective in lowering your total cholesterol and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. Including kiwano in your diet can therefore help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Kiwano and heart health

Antioxidants, vitamin E and beta-carotene are all associated with keeping your heart healthy and in preventing heart diseases. Kiwano is a good source of these nutrients and hence can be considered to be heart healthy. Moreover, the oleic acid in kiwano helps in lowering cholesterol and preventing conditions like heart attacks and strokes.

Kiwano and cancer

Free radicals are chemicals formed inside your body when a molecule or atom loses or gains an electron. They are extremely harmful to your body as they damage the important elements of cells such as membranes, DNA and proteins. Cell damage can lead to the development of diseases like cancer or other health problems. Kiwano is rich in vitamin E, beta-carotene and other antioxidants that neutralizes the effects of free radicals and protect your cells from damage.

Kiwano for strong bones

Calcium and magnesium are essential nutrients that help in maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Kiwano is an excellent source of these nutrients and so the regular consumption of this fruit not only helps in strengthening your bones but also in preventing conditions like osteoporosis.

Kiwano boosts your immune system

Kiwano contains beta-carotene and vitamin A that helps to strengthen your immune system and mucous membranes. Beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A inside your body, is also a powerful antioxidant that helps in boosting your immune system and protecting your body from the damaging effects of free radicals.

Serving Size: 1 Cup ( 233 g)
Calories 103 Kcal.           Calories from Fat 26.46 Kcal.
Nutrients Amount % DV
Total Fat 2.94 g 8.40%
Saturated Fat 0 g NA
Protein 4.15 g 8.30%
Carbohydrate 23.63 g 5%
Water 207.3 g ND
Ash 1.03 g ND
Vitamins Amount % DV
Vitamin C 12.3 mg 13.67%
Vitamin B6 0.147 mg 11.31%
Vitamin B5 0.426 mg 8.52%
Vitamin B3 1.316 mg 8.23%
Vitamin B1 0.058 mg 4.83%
Vitamin B2 0.035 mg 2.69%
Amino Acids & Lipids Amount % DV
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g 0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g 0%
Trans Fat 0 g 0%
Flavonoids 23.63 g 5%
– g -%
– g -%
Minerals Amount % DV
Iron 2.63 mg 32.88%
Magnesium 93 mg 22.14%
Phosphorus 86 mg 12.29%
Zinc 1.12 mg 10.18%
Potassium 287 mg 6.11%
Copper 0.047 mg 5.22%


*Percent Daily values (%DVs) are based on 2,000 calorie diet intake. Daily values (DVs) may be difference depending upon the daily calorie needs.

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