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Watermelon and Wellness

Karen Alexander, Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

August 5, 2021

No fruit represents summer better than watermelon does! Watermelon is available from May to September, with its peak season being mid-June to late August. This fruit is so versatile and can be eaten fresh or used for the preparation of smoothies, jams, sauces, candies, popsicles and juices.

According to the USDA, 1 cup of watermelon has 45 kcal, is 92% water, and 6% sugar by weight. Watermelon is also a great source of potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A.

Watermelon is a rich natural source of lycopene, which is a carotenoid that has a potent antioxidant effect that is responsible for the red, yellow and orange colors of watermelon. Lycopene has historically been linked to lowering the risk of prostate cancer as well as having cardiovascular benefits.

3 Heart Benefits of Lycopene

  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
  • Antihypertensive due to its antiplatelet effects (reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes)
  • Lowers cholesterol

Watermelon is also a great source of citrulline, which is an amino acid that converts to arginine, another type of amino acid that improves blood flow by creating nitric oxide, a gas that helps dilate blood vessels.

3 Health Benefits of Citrulline

  • Improves athletic performance by increasing the oxygenation of muscles, therefore improving endurance and weight training performance
  • May help individuals with erectile dysfunction
  • May reduce systolic blood pressure with doses of  ≥ 6 g/day

How to Buy

  • External appearance- look for a firm watermelon that is free of bruises, cuts or dents
  • Weight- the watermelon should be heavy for its size
  • Internal appearance- look for the reddest, firmest flesh. Paleness is a sign of unripe fruit, and mealiness signals over-ripeness

How to Store

  • Keep uncut watermelon at room temperature for up to a week or until fully ripe. Not only will the watermelon become better tasting, research on uncut watermelon has shown that lycopene content levels may increase during room temperature storage
  • Store whole watermelons at room temperature
  • Refrigerate cut watermelons in airtight containers and use within 5 days

Fun Facts

  • Because of its great water content, early explorers used watermelons as canteens
  • Watermelon seeds are consumed as a snack, fat binder, soup thickener, condiment, and also for the extraction of cooking oil
  • A watermelon was once thrown at Greek orator Demosthenes during a speech. Placing the watermelon on his head, he thanked the thrower for providing him with a helmet to wear as he fought Philip of Macedonia

Recipe of the Week

This week’s recipe is the perfect refreshing drink for a hot Florida summer!

Watermelon Water

Ingredients-

  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups watermelon, rind removed, seeded, and chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar (amount may vary depending on ripeness of watermelon)
  • Ice cubes or crushed ice (optional)

Directions-

  • In a blender combine water, watermelon and sugar until smooth
  • Add ice cubes
  • Enjoy!

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/346851846_Versatile_Nutraceutical_Potentials_of_Watermelon-A_Modest_Fruit_Loaded_with_Pharmaceutically_Valuable_Phytochemicals
  2. https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2020/7/watermelon-DT/
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336441376_Lycopene_Chemistry_Sources_Bioavailability_and_Benefits_for_Human_Health
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5974099/pdf/fphar-09-00521.pdf
  5. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3417/11/7/3293?type=check_update&version=2
  6. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-citrulline#1
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6369322/
  8. https://fruitsandveggies.org/fruits-and-veggies/watermelon/?view=facts
  9. https://www.recipelink.com/msgbrd/board_5/2005/SEP/2307.html
  10. https://www.aicr.org/resources/blog/healthtalk-ive-heard-that-watermelon-is-a-good-source-of-lycopene-is-watermelon-as-good-a-source-of-lycopene-as-tomatoes/
  11. https://southfloridareporter.com/30-facts-you-probably-dont-know-about-watermelon/

 

 

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