Watermelon is a delicious and refreshing fruit that’s also good for you.
Despite the popular belief that watermelon is just water and sugar, watermelon is actually a nutrient dense food.
It provides high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and just a small number of calories.
It contains only 46 calories per cup, but is high in vitamin C, vitamin A and many healthy plant compounds.
Each juicy bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids. There’s even a modest amount of potassium.
Watermelons have become synonymous with summer and picnics, and for good reason. Their refreshing quality and sweet taste help to combat the heat and provide a guilt-free, low maintenance dessert.
There are five common types of watermelon: yellow, orange, mini (also known as personal) seeded, and seedless.
Facts on Watermelons:
- The watermelon has been cultivated for thousands of years, with evidence stretching back to the Ancient Egyptians – who were expert cultivars.
- The watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is related to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
- Over 90 percent of a watermelon is water.
- A seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid, which is created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds.
- Egyptians placed watermelons in the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife. The first recorded watermelon harvest is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics from about 5,000 years ago.
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), China is the top producer, with 75 million produced in 2014.
- About 200 to 300 varieties are grown in the United States and Mexico, but only about 50 varieties are very popular.
- The watermelon is the official state vegetable of Oklahoma.
- The first cookbook published in the United States in 1776 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.
- Guinness World Records says the world’s heaviest watermelon was grown by Lloyd Bright of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 2005. It weighed 268.8 lbs. (121.93 kg).
- Watermelon is thought to aid conditions including asthma, cancer, and inflammation.
- Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.
- The Moors in the 13th century brought watermelons to Europe.
- The watermelon probably originated in the Kalahari Desert in Africa.
- All parts of a watermelon can be eaten, even the rind.
The Benefits of the Watermelon
– Watermelon’s high levels of lycopene are very effective at protecting cells from damage and may help lower the risk of heart disease (according to a study at Purdue University)
– Lycopene in watermelon is an inhibitor for various inflammatory processes and also works as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals.
– Watermelon is a fruit, and has many of the associated benefits including weight loss and energy levels.
– Watermelons help with overall hydration, we can get 20-30 percent of our fluid needs through our diet alone, and foods like these certainly help.
– Watermelon juice is full of good electrolytes. This can even help prevent heat stroke.
– The watermelon contains fiber, which encourages a healthy digestive tract and helps keep you regular.
– Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like watermelon decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease.
– Just a cup of watermelon contains nearly one-quarter of your recommended daily intake of it vitamin A, helps keep skin and hair moisturized, and it also encourages healthy growth of new collagen and elastin cells.
– Drinking watermelon juice before an intense workout helps reduce next-day muscle soreness and heart rate, this can be attributed to watermelon’s amino acids citrulline and arginine, which help improve circulation.
– Like other fruits and vegetables, watermelons may be helpful in reducing the risk of cancer through their antioxidant properties. Lycopene in particular has been linked to reducing prostate cancer cell proliferation.
– Blended – place diced watermelon and a few ice cubes in a blender for a cold, refreshing electrolyte drink that is perfect for rehydrating after exercise or a day on the sun.
Here’s what you need to look for in order to spot the perfect watermelon specimen
There’s a definite art to picking the very best watermelons. It involves weighing the watermelon between your hands, turning it over, and giving it a firm thwap on the underside. Why? A heavy watermelon with a splotch on its belly and a hollow sound means it is brimming with juice and at the peak of its ripeness.
How to Pick a Watermelon at the Grocery Store
– Big or small, the watermelon should feel heavy for its size.
– Look for the yellow spot, watermelons develop a splotch where they rest on the ground. When this splotch is creamy yellow, it’s ripe.
– Tap the underbelly of the watermelon. A ripe one will have a deep hollow sound.