Both honeydew and watermelon are delicious and nutritious fruits that offer great health benefits. But when it comes to nutrition, taste, availability, and uses, there are some key differences between these two members of the Cucurbitaceae plant family.
Honeydew and watermelon have some nutritional similarities but also some distinct differences in their vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant contents.
Calories and Macronutrients
One cup (177g) of honeydew melon contains:
- Calories: 64
- Carbohydrates: 16g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 1g
- Fat: 0g
Whereas one cup (154g) of watermelon contains:
- Calories: 46
- Carbohydrates: 12g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 1g
- Fat: 0g
So in terms of macronutrients, honeydew is slightly higher in natural sugars while watermelon is very low calorie.
For vitamins, honeydew contains:
- Vitamin C: 53% DV
- Vitamin B6: 5% DV
- Folate: 3% DV
- Niacin: 2% DV
- Riboflavin: 2% DV
- Thiamin: 2% DV
- Vitamin A: 1% DV
- Vitamin E: 1% DV
- Vitamin K: 1% DV
- Vitamin C: 18% DV
- Vitamin A: 18% DV
- Vitamin B6: 3% DV
So honeydew has more vitamin C, while watermelon is richer in vitamin A.
For minerals, honeydew provides:
- Potassium: 4% DV
- Magnesium: 2% DV
- Phosphorus: 1% DV
- Calcium: 1% DV
- Sodium: 1% DV
- Iron: 1% DV
- Zinc: 1% DV
- Potassium: 5% DV
- Magnesium: 3% DV
Watermelon has a higher concentration of potassium and magnesium.
Honeydew is high in phenolic antioxidants such as chalcones and flavonoids. Watermelon contains the antioxidant carotenoid lycopene, which gives it its red color.
Taste and Texture
When it comes to taste and texture preferences, it often comes down to personal opinion. Here is a broad comparison:
- Sweetness: Honeydew has a sweeter taste compared to watermelon’s mild sweetness.
- Juiciness: Watermelon has a higher water content, making it juicier.
- Flesh: Honeydew has smooth, creamy flesh compared to watermelon’s crunchy, watery interior.
- Varieties: There are different varieties of watermelon but only a few main types of honeydew.
- Seeds: Watermelon has numerous edible seeds throughout while honeydew seeds are tiny.
- Rind: Honeydew has a tougher rind that isn’t eaten, unlike watermelon’s edible rind.
Availability and Origin
In the United States, both watermelon and honeydew are in peak season during the summer months. However, their growing seasons and origins differ slightly:
- Grown in temperate climates with long growing seasons
- Originated near Africa and the Mediterranean
- Peak U.S. season is May through September
- Imported from Mexico and South America in cooler months
- Native to tropical and subtropical Africa
- Thrives in hot, humid climates
- U.S. season peaks from May through August
- Grown in Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona
So watermelon prefers hotter climates compared to the more temperate honeydew. Watermelon season also ends a bit earlier in the fall.
Both melons are fairly inexpensive, but honeydew tends to cost slightly more per pound due to its lower yield per plant and longer time to maturity.
Based on August 2023 grocery prices:
- Honeydew: $3.99 per lb
- Watermelon: $2.99 per lb
However, prices fluctuate based on location and season. Watermelon prices tend to dip lower at the peak of summertime production surpluses. The seedless varieties also tend to cost more than seeded.
Watermelon and honeydew are most often eaten fresh, but both can be used in cooking and drinks as well:
- Slices, wedges, cubes in fruit salads
- Juice, agua fresca drinks
- Pickled watermelon rind
- Grilled, added to salsas
- Pureed into smoothies, ice pops
- Melon balls or cubes in fruit salad
- Blended into smoothies
- Juiced or made into agua fresca
- Pickled rind
- Grilled, added to salsa
Both can be used interchangeably in most recipes calling for either melon. Watermelon’s milder flavor works better for savory dishes like salsa while honeydew is preferred for sweetness.
Here is an overview of some of the top health benefits of each melon:
Blood Pressure and Heart Health
Both melons contain potassium, an electrolyte that helps counterbalance sodium to lower blood pressure. The fiber and hydration also support heart health.
The water and fiber in both melons can help relieve constipation and promote regularity. Watermelon may have a slight edge with its higher water content.
Honeydew is an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamin C. Watermelon’s vitamin C still provides support, just in lower amounts per serving.
Skin and Eye Health
Watermelon’s vitamin A promotes healthy skin and vision. Honeydew’s vitamin C is also beneficial for skin collagen production.
The antioxidants in both melons, like vitamin C, lycopene, and chalcones, may help protect against cell damage linked to chronic diseases like cancer.
Watermelon contains higher levels of citrulline, an amino acid that may help relieve muscle soreness after strenuous exercise.
For home gardeners interested in growing their own melons, here are some key climate and soil preferences:
- Thrives in warm, humid climates
- Needs a long growing season (70-90 days)
- Grow best in well-drained, sandy loam soil
- Soil pH between 6.0-6.8 is ideal
- Require full sunlight
- Needs hot weather and full sun
- Prefers light, well-drained sandy loam
- Soil pH between 5.8-6.5
- Maturity in 65-100 days
- Rich soil and consistent moisture
Watermelon prefers hotter, more tropical climates compared to honeydew’s need for temperate humidity. Watermelon also has a shorter growing period.
Which Should You Choose?
For the best flavor and nutrition, choose honeydew or watermelon based on your needs:
Choose Honeydew If You Want:
- Higher vitamin C
- More antioxidants
- Sweeter taste
- Creamy smooth texture
Choose Watermelon If You Want:
- Higher water content
- Milder sweetness
- Crunchy juicy flesh
- Lycopeme and vitamin A
The Bottom Line
When choosing between honeydew and watermelon, keep in mind the differences in sweetness, texture, nutrition, origins, and uses. Both provide great hydration, nutrients, and refreshment during hot summer months. Watermelon fits the bill if you want a lighter, crisper melon with mild sweetness. For a creamier, intensely sweet melon, opt for honeydew. Or enjoy them both for a delicious, healthy summer treat!