Fresh, cold watermelon on a hot summer day – in my opinion, life doesn’t get much better! It’s high water content at approximately 92% makes watermelon thirst-quenching while providing hydration and refreshment to the body. Hydration is one of the best benefits of watermelon especially for those that suffer from being easily dehydrated. And if that’s not enough, the many health benefits of watermelon make it a fruit that you may want to enjoy every day.
Did you know that not all watermelons are pink? There are some varieties that have orange, yellow and even white flesh; however, they are probably not as high in lycopene (a carotenoid phytonutrient that’s important for cardiovascular and bone health) as the pink watermelons.
Recent studies indicate the nutritional importance of allowing a watermelon to fully ripen. This research shows that the biggest jump in lycopene content occurs at the time when a watermelon’s flesh turns from white-pink to pink. When that flesh is allowed to continue to ripen, resulting in a color change from pink to red, the lycopene content becomes even more concentrated.
How to Choose a Fully Ripe Watermelon
1) When you purchase a watermelon sliced into halves or quarters, choose the flesh that is deepest in color and lacks any white streaking. If the watermelon is seeded, the seeds should also be deep in color, or white.
2) When you purchase a whole watermelon, there are three features to look for.
Weight – A fully ripened watermelon will feel heavy for its size. Heaviness in a watermelon is a good thing because the water content of a watermelon will typically increase along with ripening, and a fully ripened watermelon will be over 90% water in terms of weight, and water is one of the heaviest components in any food.
Rind – Look for a watermelon with a relatively smooth rind that is slightly dulled on top. The top and the bottom of a watermelon are worth determining and examining on a watermelon. The bottom is the spot where it was resting on the ground. A fully ripened watermelon will often have a ground spot that has turned creamy yellow in color. Opposite from the ground spot will be the top of the watermelon. In a fully ripened watermelon, that spot will typically not be shiny but somewhat dulled. The green color may appear in many different shades, however, from light green to deeper shades.
Thumping – Even though somewhat controversial (who can resist thumping?), most experts seem to believe that a fully ripened watermelon will have a deeper, hollower “bass” sound rather than a solid and shallow “soprano” sound.
Seedless Watermelons – Genetically Engineered?
There is a good bit of controversy over the exact nature of seedless watermelons. Contrary to some information found on various websites, seedless watermelons are not the result of genetic engineering but instead the result of hybridization. By crossing a diploid watermelon (with two sets of chromosomes) and a tetraploid watermelon (with four sets of chromosomes), it is possible to produce a watermelon that contains triploid seeds (with three chromosomal sets). When planted, these triploid seeds will grow into seedless watermelons. Seedless watermelons will typically appear to contain some white seeds even though they are labeled as seedless. These white seeds are not actually seeds, but only empty seed coats. (www.whfoods.com)
Health Benefits of Watermelon
As you can tell, the health benefits of watermelon are many. Below are some of the most important health benefits of watermelon.
- antioxidant properties
- anti-inflammatory benefits
- anti-cancer benefits
- rich source of vitamin C, beta-carotene & manganese
- free radical scavenger
- anti-estrogen effects
- helps with hydration
- helps with blood pressure
- beneficial for pyorrhea
- aids in digestion
- helpful with constipation
- natural remedy for treating tapeworms
- high silica content
- helps brittle nails
- may relieve gout & arthritis pain
- beneficial for diabetes
- may reduce cholesterol levels
- may help with kidney stones
- aids in weight loss
- good source of B vitamins
- effective hangover cure
Refreshing Watermelon Agua Frescas Recipe
4 cups cubed seedless watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew
1/4 cup raw honey or healthy sweetener
2 cups cold purified water
Process watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew melon & raw honey in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a pitcher, discarding solids. Stir in 2 cups cold purified water. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Serve over ice.
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