All American Favorite
Watermelon, the fruit that is really a Vegetable. Watermelon can be traced back to Africa and is part of the cucumber and squash family. Early watermelons were mainly rind and seeds. Today's varieties are larger, the flesh sweeter, the seeds smaller and the rind thinner. It is perhaps the most refreshing, thirst quenching fruit of all.
Watermelon is an all-American favorite for meals and snacks.
People can't seem to get enough of the sweet treat, and nutritionists have long appreciated the health benefits of watermelon. In fact, the American Heart Association recently recognized watermelon's nutritional properties by giving it the "heart healthy" seal of approval. Now research has shed new light on its potential health benefits.
Watermelon is Mostly Water!
Watermelon consists of 92 percent water and 8 percent sugar, so it is aptly named. Americans eat over 17 pounds of watermelon each year.
Watermelon contains high concentrations of lycopene that may help reduce the risks of prostate cancer.
A study conducted by Harvard University researchers found that men who ate lycopene-rich diets of tomatoes and tomato products had a much lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
According to the USDA Caratenoid Database, Watermelon is the Leader in Lycopene among fresh fruits and vegetables. And, it's functional! Watermelon is fat free, nutritionally low in calories and considered an ideal diet food, and is high in energy, making it a great energy boost! Nutrients in watermelon include vitamins A, B6, C!
Watermelon is practically a multi-vitamin unto itself. With a 2-cup serving of watermelon containing excellent levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, this product contains a number of nutrients that are vital to good health.
Watermelon Aids Detox
Watermelon is a good source of an important liver cleansing substance called glutathione. It helps to ensure that both phases of detoxification within the liver continue at the same speed, thereby preventing toxic buildup in the liver.
Vitamin A found in watermelon is important for optimal eye health, can help prevent nightblindness, and boosts immunity by enhancing the infection-fighting actions of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
Vitamin B6 found in watermelon is used by the body to manufacture brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine, which preliminary research shows may help the body cope with anxiety and panic.
Vitamin C in watermelon can help to bolster the immune system's defenses against infections and viruses and can protect a body from harmful free radicals that can accelerate aging and conditions such as cataracts.
A two-cup serving of watermelon is also a source of potassium, a mineral necessary for water balance and found inside of every cell. People with low potassium levels can experience muscle cramps.
When to look for watermelons in your grocery store:
Watermelons are available all year. The natural sweetness of watermelon makes it a favorite anytime of the year. It is a perfect addition to a salad, salsa, or cool drink. Top chunks of sweet watermelon with fruit flavored sherbets or sorbets.
Choose firm, symmetrical, fruit free of cracks, bruises, soft spots or mold. Ripe watermelon will have a healthy sheen, a dull rind, dried stem, and a buttery yellow underside where it touched the ground. There should be a melon like smell or fragrance. Thump if you must, sound should be dull and hollow. Lift them, weight should be heavy for size.
For a great tasting watermelon, hold the melon to your ear and knock on it. The more hollow it sounds, the better it will taste. You may get some strange looks - just ignore.
Special Watermelon Tip: Avoid watermelons that are very hard, white or very pale green in color on the underside, indicating immaturity. An immature watermelon will be slightly acidic.
Once picked, watermelon will not ripen easily. If unripe, try putting the whole melon in paper bag un-refrigerated. This sometimes works to ripen them. Watermelons can be kept for short periods of time, up to 2 weeks, uncut at room temperature. Wash watermelon with soap and water before cutting. Once cut, package what is not eaten in closed plastic containers or bags and put back in the refrigerator.
Varieties of Watermelon
There are more than 50 varieties of watermelon. Most have red flesh, but there are orange and yellow-fleshed varieties. Of the 50 varieties of watermelon throughout the United States, there are four general categories: Allsweet, Ice-Box, Seedless and Yellow Flesh.
All Sweet Watermelon
- 20 to 25 pounds
- Red Flesh
- Dark green rind, with or without stripes
Serving suggestion: Surprise your guests by serving a large refreshing wedge of watermelon following a heavy meal. Place the wedge on a plate with a large knife and encourage the entire table to enjoy a slice.
Ice Box Watermelon
- 5 to 15 pounds
- Red or yellow flesh
- Dark or light green rind
Serving suggestion: Make your salsa or relish really "cool" by substituting watermelon for tomatoes in your favorite recipe. Serve with grilled chicken, fish or pork. Try watermelon salsa with chips, too.
- 10 to 25 pounds
- Red or Yellow Flesh
- Oval to round /li>
- Light green rind with dark green stripes
Serving suggestion: This variety's perfect for sorbets and beverages. Blend cubes of seedless watermelon and use the juice in margaritas, daiquiris or lemonade for a new twist.
- 10 to 30 pounds
- Yellow to bright orange flesh
- Oblong to long
- Light green rind with mottled stripes
Chocolate Covered Watermelon
How about chocolate on your watermelon! Try it - you may be very pleasantly surprised!
8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
5 pounds seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch wedges
Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over simmering water. Stir until melted. Dip the watermelon wedges in the chocolate and place on parchment-lined baking sheet, rind side down. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired. Should make about 25 wedges.
Nutrition information per wedge: 77 calories, 1g protein, 12g carbs, 1g fiber, 10g sugars, 3g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 3mg sodium.
Cheesy Watermelon Sandwich
The contrast of creamy, tart goat cheese with the sweet watery melon is remarkable.
1/16 of a watermelon (about a 5 x 3-inch wedge), rind removed, sliced in two equal
1 ounce goat cheese
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon anise or fennel seed (optional)
Place 1 watermelon slice on a cutting board and top with the cheese. Top with the remaining slice. Sprinkle with salt and anise, if desired.
Nutrition information: Calories: 99; Fat: 4.6g; Saturated Fat: 3.1g; Cholesterol: 13mg; Sodium: 190mg; Carbohydrates: 11.1g; Dietary Fiber: 0.6g; Protein: 4.7g
Watermelon Breakfast A Go Go Recipe Card
Download the entire Watermelon Fact Sheet from the United States Food and Drug Administration:
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