Are Melons Low FODMAP?

One of the greatest things about summer is all the foods that come into season. Tomatoes, spinach, peaches and strawberries, to name a few. But, if you’ve gone low FODMAP, you may not be able to partake in much of this bounty. In this post, we’ll look at specifically at FODMAPs in fresh melon, one of the quintessential fruits of summer.

Most commonly eaten melons are not low FODMAP. Watermelon is high in fructose, fructans and mannitol, while honeydew melon has excess fructose. Your best bet is cantaloupe melon, which is low FODMAP at many normal serving sizes.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of research on low FODMAP melons beyond the big three. So, if you like banana, casaba or horned melon, the only advice I can give is to test your tolerance level.

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Is Cantaloupe Low FODMAP?

Cantaloupe is low FODMAP at most normal serving sizes. Currently, the only well documented FODMAP in cantaloupe is fructose. A half cup of diced, fresh cantaloupe contains .30 grams of excess fructose, below the low FODMAP guideline of .40 grams per serving.

If a food has more glucose than fructose, we say it has no excess fructose. If a food has more fructose than glucose, we say it has excess fructose. It’s the amount of excess fructose that determines whether a food is low FODMAP.

The table below lists the glucose, fructose and excess fructose values for cantaloupe at different serving sizes.

Glucose, Fructose and Excess Fructose in Fresh Cantaloupe

Excess Fructose
1 wedge, small1.9 ounces.85 1.0.15
1 wedge, medium2.4 ounces1.11.3.20
1 wedge, large3.6 ounces1.61.9.30
1/2 c, diced2.8 ounces1.21.5.30
1/2 c, balls3.1 ounces1.21.5.30
10 balls4.9 ounces2.12.6.50
Selected sugar content of fresh, raw cantaloupe.1

Published low FODMAP guidelines state that a food should have less than .40 grams of excess fructose per serving. However, if other FODMAPs are present in the food, it should have less than .15 grams of excess fructose.2

Since there’s currently no clear evidence that cantaloupe contains other FODMAPs, I used the higher number as the excess fructose threshold. As shown in the table above, cantaloupe fits within published low FODMAP guidelines for excess fructose at most serving sizes.

Are There Other FODMAPs in Cantaloupe Melon?

I say “no clear evidence” because I haven’t been able to find publicly available research showing other FODMAPs in cantaloupe. However, most fruit has at least two FODMAPs, so it’s likely that cantaloupe does, too.

For example, peaches, apples, pears and apricots all contain the polyol sorbitol. This is one reason they’re classified as high FODMAP, though in the case of apples and pears, the fructose content alone would put them in the high FODMAP category.

As for melons, watermelon contains high amounts of fructose, fructans and polyols. Unlike other fruits, watermelon has no detectable sorbitol. Instead, the polyol content comes from mannitol.3

Honeydew also contains fructose, fructans and polyols. However, here the fructan and polyol content falls within safe low FODMAP guidelines.3,2

Sliced cantaloupe. Cantaloupe is currently the only on of the three most common melons classified as low FODMAP.

So, bottom line is that it’s very likely cantaloupe does contain FODMAPs other than fructose. However, there’s not enough published data to calculate estimated fructan and polyol content in cantaloupe.

It’s possible that cantaloupe, like honeydew, has safe levels of fructans and polyols. That could be one reason why it’s never been identified as high FODMAP in food studies.

You should test your tolerance for cantaloupe as with any other food. But, at least right now, it appears cantaloupe is safe for people following the low FODMAP system.

Is Watermelon FODMAP Friendly?

Watermelon is definitely not FODMAP friendly, In fact, watermelon is one of the highest FODMAP fruits out there. It beats apples and pears, which isn’t an easy feat.

You can get all the details in this post on watermelon and FODMAPs, if you want. The take home point is that watermelon is pretty much a terrible choice for low FODMAPers.

To start, watermelon has very high amounts of fructose. As I’ve written elsewhere, fructose accounts for more than half the total sugar in this fruit. So, watermelon is a no-go for low FODMAPers sensitive to fructose.

As mentioned above, watermelon also contains very high amounts of the polyol mannitol. And certain serving sizes of watermelon have more than the acceptable amount of fructans, too.

So, even if the fructose content in watermelon doesn’t bother you, there’s a good chance one of the other FODMAPs will. This is why I use pineapple as an alternative to watermelon during the summer.

Wedges of raw watermelon on plate

Is Honeydew Melon Low FODMAP?

Honeydew can be FODMAP friendly, depending on your particular sensitivities.

Like watermelon, honeydew has been shown to have three FODMAPs: fructose, fructans and polyols. In this case, however, the polyol is sorbitol, not mannitol.

The good news is that the fructan and polyol content in honeydew melon are low and generally fall within safe FODMAP guidelines at normal serving sizes. You can learn all about those in my full post on honeydew.

So, at present, it seems the only problematic FODMAP in honeydew is excess fructose. The excess fructose in honeydew is much less than in watermelon, but honeydew falls just outside safe low FODMAP guidelines for excess fructose at most serving sizes.

Are Other Melons Low FODMAP?

Honestly, I was unable to find data on the FODMAP content of other melons, either in the research literature or in food composition databases.

Though there are dozens of different types of melon4, only watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe are usually included in food studies. Even then, it’s often much easier to find full data on watermelon than on the other two. So, if you like less well-known, less popular melons, such as Kiwano (horned) melon or gaya melon, you probably won’t be able to get FODMAP data for them.

Kiwano melon has an orange peel with small spikes or horns and a dark green interior with lots of white seeds.

As for food composition databases, my primary source is the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Data Central (FDC). Because the USDA tests foods most popular in the US, it makes sense that the FDC contains detailed data for watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. Since most other melons are not widely consumed here, they’re not in the database.

Final Thoughts on Melons and the LOW FODMAP System

It’s really a shame there isn’t more research on melons. It feels like there are so few fruits that fit within low FODMAP guidelines, it would be good to know what kinds of melons, and in what quantities, could work for us low FODMAPers.

Hopefully more food composition data on different types of melons will be available in the future. The USDA does have limited data for banana, Kiwano and casaba melon. Not enough for FODMAP analysis, but that’s a good sign, anyway.

In the meantime, it seems cantaloupe is the best go-to summer melon option. If you’re not sensitive to fructose, honeydew may be an option as well. But watermelon probably needs to sit out the summer barbeque.


About the Author

Amanda Coleman, PhD, studies food culture and teaches a popular Food and Society course. Years of digestive problems led her to live low FODMAP. Now she uses her research and analysis skills to help others understand FODMAP essentials, so they can lead better, healthier lives.

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