"When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat." - Mark Twain, American author.
Watermelon is a perfect treat during the summer, when it is in its sweetest form! Even though 90% of the fruit contains water, it also has significant amounts of nutrients. Almost every part of a watermelon is consumable. Apart from the edible inner flesh, roasted seeds are used as snacks and the rind is pickled or stir fried in certain regions. Even the thick green outer skin can be used along with the flesh, while making juice. Popular as a sweet and juicy fruit, watermelon is also packed with nutrients.
Nutritional Value of Watermelon
As the name rightly suggests, watermelons are rich in water. This fruit is also very low in calories. Apart from that, they contain considerable amounts of vitamin A and C. This fruit is rich in carotenoids and is free of fats and cholesterol. It is believed that watermelons kept at room temperature are more nutritious than those kept in the refrigerator. The following table will provide you with a brief overview about watermelon nutrition (per 100 grams of raw fruit).
|Vitamin C - 8.1 mg||Calcium - 7 mg|
|Vitamin A - 569 IU||Potassium - 112 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) - 0.045 mg||Magnesium - 10 mg|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamin) - 0.033 mg||Phosphorous - 11 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) - 0.021mg||Iron - 0.24 mg|
|Folate - 3 mcg||Sodium - 1 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) - 0.221 mg||Fluoride - 1.5 mcg|
100 grams of this fruit amounts to 30 calories and contains 91.5 grams water, 0.15 gram fat, 7.55 grams carbohydrates, 0.4 gram dietary fiber, 6.2 grams sugar and 0.61 gram protein. Seeds of watermelon also contain certain nutrients in trace amounts. 50% of watermelon seeds consists of oil and the other half includes 35% protein and 5% dietary fiber.
Health Aspects of Watermelon
Other than the vitamins and minerals, the most important health benefit of watermelon is that it contains carotenoids, which have antioxidant properties. Lycopene, which gives red color to the flesh, forms a major chunk of the carotenoids in this fruit. 100 grams of the fruit contains 4.5 mg of lycopene, which is helpful in reducing the risk of many types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Watermelons contain an amino acid called citrulline, which is used by the human body to produce another amino acid known as arginine. Arginine helps remove ammonia from the body and produces nitric oxide, which is helpful in lowering high blood pressure and in preventing erectile dysfunction. The nutrients in watermelon help in fighting and preventing many diseases. Watermelons are associated with various health benefits, some of which are given below:
- Watermelons contain vitamin B, which is helpful in producing instant energy in the body.
- Beta carotene contained in watermelons, helps to boost the immune system and also in fighting age-related blindness.
- Watermelons are rich in water and so are helpful in preventing dehydration. The low-calorie content of this fruit, makes it a best choice for diet-conscious people.
- Potassium helps in lowering high blood pressure and fights kidney stone formation. This mineral is also said to be good for preventing conditions, like stroke and heart problems.
- It helps in reducing symptoms of asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Being rich in antioxidants, watermelon is said to be good for fighting the action of free radicals in the body. This reduces the risk of various types of cancer and heart diseases.
- Watermelon has diuretic and cleansing properties that makes it beneficial for those with certain kidney and bladder diseases.
- This fruit is also used for skin care, as topical application of its juice is found to reduce skin blemishes. Watermelons are also used in various cosmetics like, lipsticks and shower gels.
- It is also used as a remedy for constipation and is believed to be helpful for cleansing the toxic wastes in the body.
Watermelon and Diabetics
Those with diabetes have to be cautious about the food they consume, as their blood glucose levels may raise with intake of certain foods. So, diabetics are advised to stay off such foods, which have high glycemic (or glycaemic) index. Intake of foods with higher glycemic index can raise the blood glucose levels very fast. Watermelon with a high glycemic index also comes in this list. However, according to latest researches, this fruit is beneficial for diabetics, if used in MODERATION. This is because of the low glycemic load of this fruit. Glycemic load is a newer concept that takes into consideration, the carbohydrate level of the food as well as the serving size, along with the glycemic index (for calculating the effect of that particular food on the blood glucose levels). As per this new concept, watermelon has low glycemic load. This is because of the high water content and low carbohydrate level of this fruit, per serving. So, now it is said that watermelons can be consumed by diabetics, in small amounts. It takes large amounts of the fruit to affect the blood glucose levels. However, it is advisable to monitor the blood glucose level, after consumption of watermelon. Above all, consult your doctor before introducing this fruit in your diet.
While buying watermelons, select the ones with smooth skin, which is dark green. Go for the ones, which are heavy and with a white or yellow patch as a sign of ripening. The seeds should be dark black and the flesh should be dark pink or red. You can hear a hollow sound, while thumping a ripe watermelon. Now that you are equipped with some useful tips to buy watermelons, I am sure, you will be able to pick some of the good, ripe ones and enjoy the summer in a healthy way.