Ripe, juicy, watermelon
Timothy Hennessy, RHN, RNCP
Is there a more sensuous food on a hot summers day than a big, ripe watermelon? What would a picnic be without the laughter of children as they spit the seeds from juicy slices?
Round, magnificiant star-filled watermelon. It's a fruit from the thirst tree. It's the green whale of summer.
- "Ode to a Watermelon," Pablo Neruda
Is there a more sensuous food on a hot summer’s day than a big, ripe watermelon? What would a picnic be without the laughter of children as they spit the seeds from juicy slices?
Traditional Chinese medicine has long recognized the ability of this gloriously refreshing fruit to clear symptoms of excess summer heat from an overheated body. With a water content of over 90 percent, they are aptly named.
Native to the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa, watermelons are from the same family as squash and cucumbers. They vary in size from the smaller icebox varieties, such as Sugar Baby, and the heirloom, Moon and Stars, to heavier elongated versions that can weigh upwards of 60 lbs (27.2 kg). Watermelon flesh ranges in colour from red to pink, orange, yellow, and even white.
Savour Its Nutrients
As well as being an excellent source of the antioxidants vitamin C and beta carotene (a serving provides about 15 mg and 500 IU respectively), watermelon also provides B vitamins essential for nervous system support and energy production, magnesium, and potassium. A 100-g serving contains 32 calories, 1 g of protein, 7 g of carbohydrates, and absolutely no fat or cholesterol.
Tomatoes are known as a source of the powerful antioxidant carotenoid lycopene with its anticancer properties, but did you know that an equal serving of pink-fleshed watermelon contains even more lycopene than tomato? The benefits of this powerhouse fruit don’t stop there, either.
Relish Its Benefits
Watermelon seeds contain cucurbocitrin, a compound that dilates capillaries and can lower blood pressure. They also function as a general diuretic and have been used as a
traditional antiparasitic remedy. The rind is rich in silicon, which aids in tissue repair, and the outer skin contains generous amounts of chlorophyll, which helps detoxify and purify our system, particularly the liver. Watermelon rind can be juiced along with the inner fruit, preserved in syrup, candied, or pickled.
From a digestive point of view, it is best to eat watermelon on its own since its simple sugars break down rapidly in comparison to complex carbohydrates or proteins.
Whether in juice form from your health food store or fresh from your local market, a world of good health awaits you in every serving–so enjoy!
Choose with Care
Watermelons, unlike some fruits, do not ripen off the vine. Look for a watermelon that feels heavy for its size and has a lighter yellow patch on one side from where it rested on the ground. Thump it with a knuckle and listen for a good resonant tone.
Remember to wash it well before slicing open. Once cut, refrigerate, but allow to warm up a bit before serving.