By David Grotto, RD, LDN
Most of you already know that eating watermelon seeds won’t produce a thriving plant in your belly but you may not be aware that every part of a watermelon is edible – including the seeds and the rind! And by the way, those seedless watermelons DO contain seeds – they are immature white seeds that often pass by unnoticed.
Watermelon is truly a value-added fruit. Where else can you make a dent in both your required hydration (watermelon is 92% water!) and fruit needs at the same time? But this unsung hero is really so much more. For only 40 calories a cup, watermelon is a good source of both vitamin C and beta carotene along with a variety of other nutrients. Watermelon reigns supreme in the phytochemical lycopene, a nutrient that may hold promise for preventing both breast and prostate cancer and contributing to heart health. The lycopene content in a one-cup serving of watermelon contains about the same amount of lycopene as two medium-sized tomatoes. Studies also suggest that the bioavailability of lycopene in fresh watermelon may be comparable to that in tomato juice. The nutrients in watermelon may help fight cancer and other chronic diseases.
Cancer. A human study found that men with a high intake of watermelon had a lower risk of colorectal cancer. Another human study featured in the International Journal of Cancer found that those who consumed watermelon along with other foods high in carotenoids had a lower risk of prostate cancer.
Circulation. Watermelon rind contains citrulline, an amino acid that helps in the production of nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels to allow for better blood flow to the heart and other essential body parts. Researchers have proposed that citrulline found in watermelon may work in the same way that drugs like Viagra do in helping restore sexual function.
Now that you are inspired to consume more of this helpful fruit, here are some tips on how to select the perfect watermelon. Of course, everyone has their secret technique but these sweet tips found on watermelon.org truly hold water.
Smooth skin. The shell should be firm, free from dents, bruises and cuts.
Pick it up. Sounds silly but it should feel “heavy” for its size.
Turn it over. Look for a creamy yellow spot where the watermelon sat on the ground while ripening in the sun.
Don’t smell it. I see this all the time in stores. What are you expecting to smell? Go smell flowers instead.
Going on Green doesn’t mean you’ll stop on red. Some varieties of watermelon are simply greener on the outside than others. It’s the red sweet goodness on the inside that counts. See tips 1-3.
Prep & Store it right!
- Wash the watermelon before cutting.
- Cover the cut surface of a melon with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- Whole melons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature
- Try freezing watermelon juice in ice cube trays for fun icy goodness that can be added to water or any other beverage for a flavorful addition.
- Salt can bring out the sweet taste in watermelon, though it is not necessary to enjoy it.
Have a favorite way that you like to enjoy your watermelon? Let’s hear all about it!