Everyone loves a big piece of thirst-quenching watermelon on a hot day; it is so refreshing. I love watermelon and can easily eat a quarter of one in one sitting!
“When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what angels eat.” –Mark Twain
Did you know that is it also nutrition packed too? Yes, watermelon is 92 percent water, but that other 8 percent is filled with good nutrition and amazing health benefits; so many benefits that we consider it a powerfood and give weekend web Watermelon BootCamps with it.
Health Benefits of Watermelon:
1. Watermelon is extremely alkaline-forming in the body. There are a host of benefits to this.
2. Watermelon is the lycopene leader among fresh fruits and vegetables. Deep red varieties of watermelon have replaced the tomato as the lycopene king. The red pigment — also found in apricots, pink grapefruit, and papaya — is an important antioxidant. It has been found to be helpful in reducing the risk of prostate, breast, and endometrial cancers, as well as lung and colon cancer. Lycopene’s ability to neutralize singlet oxygen radicals was better then the antioxidant abilities of beta-carotene and vitamin E. (Source: Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics in 1989)
3. Watermelon may have Viagra-like effect. It contains citrulline, which can trigger production of a compound in the body that helps relax the body’s blood vessels, in a way similar to what happens when a man takes Viagra, according to a Texas A&M study.
4. Watermelon is a diuretic and was a homeopathic treatment for kidney patients before dialysis became widespread.
5. Watermelon is a very good source of potassium; it helps muscle and nerve function. It can ease inflammation that contributes to conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and arthritis.
6. Watermelon is a certified heart healthy food by the American Heart Association.
I am so happy to know all the benefits to this favorite summer fruit of mine. Watermelon is often all I have for breakfast and it always amazes me that I feel full for hours afterwards.
It is also true that watermelon is high in sugar, with 10 grams per cup. But think about it, what is a better choice: a candy bar or a nutritious piece of watermelon?
Watermelon Nutrition Facts:
- Excellent source of vitamin C.
- Very good source of vitamin A.
- Good source of potassium and magnesium.
- Small amounts of most of the B vitamins.
- Trace amounts of vitamin K and pantothenic acid.
- Lots of trace amount minerals (copper, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc)
- Over 6888 mcg of lycopene.
- Supplies 2 percent of daily fiber needs.
- Only 45 calories per cup, so it is an ideal diet food.
- Fat free. Well, almost: 1 cup of diced watermelon has .23 grams of fat.
- Only .02 grams of saturated fat in 1 cup of diced watermelon.
- No cholesterol, caffeine or alcohol (I find it funny that this info is included in the breakdown).
- Low sodium: 1.52 mg in 1 cup of diced watermelon.
- There is even 1 gram of protein in 1 cup of diced watermelon.
Is it a fruit or a vegetable?
Watermelon is considered a vegetable by some. It is related to the squash and pumpkin family and is grown as a vegetable crop, using vegetable production systems.
“Watermelon is the fruit of a plant originally from a vine of southern Africa. Like the pepper, tomato and pumpkin, it is the ripened ovary of a seed plant and its contents, which, botanically speaking, make it fruit.” Calgary Herald
In China, watermelon is stir-fried, stewed and often pickled and used as a vegetable.
Well whatever! It is a fruit as far as I am concerned.
So let’s have a little watermelon fun.
Watermelon Facts and Trivia:
- 2012 US National Watermelon Queen Katelyn Kelly says: “Canadians love watermelon. This is where we export most of our watermelon.”
- It was 5,000 years ago that the first recorded watermelon harvest occurred in Egypt and they shared them with the rest of civilization in the 10th century.
- Over 1,200 varieties of watermelon are grown worldwide. About 200-300 varieties are grown in the U.S. and Mexico.
- This fruit was held in such regard that it was placed in the tombs of many Egyptian kings.
- The word watermelon first appeared in the English dictionary in 1615.
- In China and Japan, watermelon is a popular gift to bring a host.
- Watermelons come in many shapes and sizes; the newest shape is a square watermelon. The Japanese created them to save space; the watermelon are of exact dimensions of Japanese refrigerators, allowing a full grown watermelon to fit precisely.
- Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.
- After a watermelon was thrown at Roman Governor Demosthenes, he placed the watermelon on his head and thanked the thrower for giving him with a helmet to wear as he fought Philip of Macedonia.
- U.S. ranks fourth in the world growing watermelons. It is grown in 44 states, mostly Florida, Texas, California, Georgia, and Arizona. In 1999 over 4 billion pounds of watermelon were produced in the US.
- Watermelon is grown in over 96 countries worldwide.
- A giant watermelon weighing a watery 268.8 pounds was grown in Arkansas by Lloyd Bright, earning the Guinness World Record for heaviest watermelon in September of 2005.
How to Pick a Good Watermelon:
- They are not one of the “dirty dozen” (the most heavily sprayed produce). They are one of the 15 most clean non-organic fruits and vegetables.
- Decide what size of watermelon you want as there are many different sizes. Watermelons can weigh anywhere from a few pounds to more than 90.
- Do you want a seedless watermelon? Most seedless watermelons are often not organic so that may be something for you to consider.
- Choose a melon that is medium to light green but not yellowing, with several spots of light green on it.
- Make sure it feels heavy for its size.
- It is should not be bruised, shriveled, cracked or moldy. The purpose of the thick rind is to protect the contents inside. Minor scratches are okay.
- Check out the bottom of the watermelon; this should have a creamy yellow spot which is where the watermelon sat on the ground while ripening. If this spot is white or green, it may not be ripe as it was picked too soon.
- The melon should have a faint aroma and the end should be soft.
- Tap the watermelon with the palm of your hand lightly several times. What you hear should be a somewhat hollow echo. This indicates the fruit is likely fresh and its flesh is very hard, which is when they taste best. If the sound is a thunk as though it’s solid, that’s no good and too hollow a sound is also not good. You just have to do the trial and error thing until you learn which watermelons are the best.
- The best watermelons will, of course, be the ones you grow yourself. Learn How to Grow Watermelons.
In this video below, Diana gives a quick demonstration of how to pick and cut a watermelon.
Ok we now have our watermelon, so now what?
- Always wash the exterior of the melon before slicing to remove any bacteria on the surface.
- After they have been cut, store in the fridge.
- Before eating a piece that has been in the fridge, pull it out long enough for it to go to room temperature. This maximizes its phytonutrient capacity.
- Store uncut whole watermelons at 70 degrees Fahrenheit: A study by the USDA’s South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Lane, Oklahoma found that watermelon stored at 70 F gained up to 40 percent more lycopene and 50 percent to 139 percent more beta-carotene when compared to freshly picked watermelon. Watermelons continue to produce nutrients after they are picked; the chilling slows this process. Refrigerated watermelon starts to decay after a week.
- Watermelons last from 14 to 21 days at 13 degrees Celsius (55 F) after harvest.
- Eat watermelon on its own. Melons only take 15 – 30 minutes to digest; they do not combine with any other food. Always eat separately and wait 30 minutes before eating something else.
- Eat room-temperature watermelon, as it is much easier on the stomach.
- Every part of a watermelon is edible, even the seeds and rinds.
- Yes you can eat watermelon rinds: We usually throw out the hard green rind of the juicy watermelon, but did you know that the watermelon rind has nutritional and healing benefits? This wasted food can do good things for your body. Also, using it will cut down on your garbage, thus helping the environment.
- My favorite way to eat it is to cut it into cubes and put it in a big bowl.
- Watermelon juice is so easy and a wonderful cooling, alkalizing beverage and, of course, filled with nutrients. Find just how easy it is to make here: watermelon juice.
- Watermelon popsicles are great for children and adults too. Learn how to make them here: watermelon popsicles.
- Some people may experience watermelon allergy symptoms from mild to severe hives, facial swelling, diarrhea or anaphylaxis.
- Diabetics: The American Diabetes Association says you may eat watermelon as a fruit selection, provided you are following the guidance of your health care provider.
- Eating large amounts of lycopene-rich foods (tomatoes and watermelon) may cause gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion and bloating.
- Large quantities of foods containing potassium, like watermelon, may adversely affect people diagnosed with hyperkalemia, or too much potassium in their blood.
- Eating lots of watermelon will most likely cause a frequent need to urinate.
My Own Story:
When I was disabled for 10 years with a digestive system that was only partly functioning and could eat only 12 foods, watermelon was a life saver for me. I would eat half of a very big watermelon every day. I am very thankful for watermelons for helping me on my journey back to health.
I think watermelon is so useful and cleansing and alkalizing for the body that I give Weekend Watermelon Boot Camps. Check it out!