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Superfruit update: Now it's melons?

November 3, 2009 | 12:19 pm

Melon As we mentioned in a recent post, the superfruit category is becoming a crowded one, with champions of this or that piece of produce putting forth their contenders in news releases brimming with hyperbole.

Today we have a new candidate: the melon -- in particular, a "rare exotic melon harvested from fields in the South of France," news of which was sent to us in an e-mail with the subject line "Breakthrough Melon Extract contains the 'Enzyme of Life.' "

"Melons were introduced to Europe in the 16th century and were so rare and treasured that they were grown in glasshouses," we are told. "For centuries scientists have looked to these superior fruits for the key to anti-aging." (They have?)

The "enzyme of life" in question is the free radical scavenger superoxide dismutase, higher levels of which have been linked to longevity in such creatures as worms and fruit flies, though the enzyme alone is not the one key to why and how rapidly we age. This particular melon contains a lot of superoxide dismutase, apparently, and there are even pictures of a "normal melon" and this special melon 15 days post-harvest, with the "normal melon" looking considerably more decrepit than the special melon.

The e-mail goes on to explain that a cosmetic created from this melon "activates the synthesis of the cell and quenches free radicals. It allows the cells to project moisture back into your complexion and leaves you with a dewy look by actually ‘switching on’ the genes which allow the body to make its own antioxidant enzymes."

We won't get into the side issue of whether, for seed dispersal purposes, it's useful or detrimental for a melon to sit around indefinitely hard as a rock. (This melon is nearly extinct, we are told.) Just to say: Fruit are good. We should eat more of them. But perhaps we should leave it at that?

P.S. If you want to fritter away some time learning about the history of melon cultivation, here's a fun link. And here's another.

-- Rosie Mestel 

Photo credit: David Karp