Because of its taste, watermelon is a popular summertime fruit. In addition to being a juicy treat, watermelons contain many nutrients that boost health.
First cultivated in Egypt, watermelons were once such a highly regarded fruit that one would be placed in the tombs of Egyptian Kings. Today watermelons are used all over the world to make wine, as an ingredient in salads, juices, salsas, sorbets, and smoothies or just eaten raw as a sweet, juicy treat. In addition to being a thirst-quenching fruit (due to its 92 percent water content), watermelon offers many nutritional benefits.
Health Benefits of Watermelon
Because of its high level of beta-carotene, watermelon is a good source of vitamin A. In addition, watermelon is rich in vitamin C and lycopene. The vitamin C, vitamin A, and lycopene in watermelon act as powerful antioxidants that protect the body from the harmful effects of free radicals such as skin damage, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and macular degeneration.
Watermelons are rich in B vitamins, specifically B1 and B6, both of which provide the body energy. Vitamin B1 also helps to keep the heart, brain, and nervous system running well, while vitamin B6 is an immune booster and has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Watermelon is a good source of potassium and magnesium as well. Potassium works with sodium and chloride as an electrolyte in the body to balance water levels in the body and regulate blood pressure and heartbeat. Magnesium promotes heart health and is important for building strong bones and reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Tips for Buying Watermelon
When purchasing watermelon that’s already pre-cut and packaged, look for deeply colored, juicy flesh free of any white streaks running through it. When purchasing uncut watermelons, look for melons with a smooth surface. The surface or rind of the watermelon can vary in color from dark to pale green and should look dull, not shiny.
Watermelons also have a yellowish or cream-colored underbelly which is the area that lays on the ground during ripening. Melons which lack this yellowish colored area should be avoided as they may have been harvested too soon and may leave the melon lacking taste and juiciness.
In addition to the flesh of watermelon, the seeds and rind can be eaten as well. Watermelon seeds can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds, and the rind can be used for homemade canned goods such as watermelon rind pickles and preserves.