Watermelon is one of the hallmarks of the summer season. It’s the leading melon in the United States and every part of the fruit can be eaten – even the rind! (though you will want to pickle or juice it first).
Over 90 percent of the watermelon is made up of water, making it a great choice to help stay hydrated on a hot day. Drinking watermelon juice before an intense workout has also been shown to reduce muscle soreness the next day. At only 40 calories per cup, this fruit is packed with nutrients and health benefits.
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Watermelon contains high amounts of lycopene, about 15-20 milligrams per each 2-cup serving. This antioxidant gives the fruit its color and assists with heart health by lowering the risk of heart disease, decreasing blood pressure, and alleviating arterial stiffness. It also helps with overall bone health and helps prevent cancer by neutralizing free radicals. The anti-inflammatory properties of lycopene help with chronic inflammation, arthritis, and systemic inflammation from cellular damage caused by stress, smoking, pollution, and various diseases.
The melon also contains amounts of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps with overall immunity, skin and eye health (also boosted by the vitamins A and C), and cancer prevention. Watermelon also aids digestion as a good source of fiber. The juicy fruit is high in sugar, however, scoring a 72 on the glycemic index.
If you opt for the seeded variety, the seeds contain protein, magnesium, vitamin B, and good fats. Seedless watermelon are definitely easier to consume, but the tiny white seeds hidden in the red flesh don’t contain the same benefits as the familiar black seeds. Contrary to what some believe, seedless varieties of watermelon are produced by cross-breeding plants, not by genetic modification
Produce Fit for a King
There is evidence that suggests that watermelons were buried with Egyptian kings with the intention of providing nourishment in the afterlife, and at least one watermelon harvest was depicted in hieroglyphs.
Watermelon originated in West Africa and slowly made its way to Europe and the New World. It’s the official state vegetable of Oklahoma (yes, it’s a fruit AND a vegetable). The Guinness World Record for heaviest watermelon belongs to one from Arkansas, which weighed 268.8 lbs back in 2005.
I’ll Take A Few
When buying fresh watermelon, look for ones that are firm, heavy, and symmetrical. Avoid melons with soft spots or bruising. If you tap a watermelon, listen for a light, hollow-sounding thud.
It’s the Life of the Party
Drinks: Use in smoothies with a variety of fruit, or simply blend cubed watermelon and ice for a refreshing beverage.
Snacks: Roast watermelon seeds in the oven for 15-20 minutes. One ounce of seeds provides about 8 grams of protein.
Salads: Add watermelon, mint, and fresh mozzerella to a spinach salad. Drizzle with balsamic dressing.
Sides: Serve in fruit cocktail salads, or try this Watermelon Pizza.
Any way you slice it, enjoy!