Watermelon

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 30. Apr. 2020
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The watermelon is a perfect ingredient for anyone looking to lose weight or stay slim. Its high water content-- around 95 percent--makes watermelon a super healthy and low-calorie treat.

watermelon

Watermelon...

  • ...may lower blood pressure. Both the skin and pulp of the watermelon contain the amino acid citrulline, which is converted into arginine in the body. This amino acid dilates blood vessels, ensuring that blood can circulate more easily and helping to combat high blood pressure.
  • ...is low in sugar and fat. Watermelon has a high water content but is low in sugar, making it the perfect guilt-less treat.
  • ...protects your skin. Watermelon is high in vitamin A, which supports skin health and radiance.
  • ...is high in potassium. Potassium is mainly needed for energy production. It also regulates the balance of acids in the body, as well as the water-electrolyte balance. Potassium also promotes the healthy function of muscle stimulation and contractions, as well as enzymes and organs like the kidney.
  • ...may help reduce the risk of cancer. Watermelon is rich in Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and protects cells from harmful environmental influences. Diets high in Lycopene have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer.
  • ...is good for your eyes. Watermelon is a great source of Vitamin A, which has been shown to support good vision.
  • ...can lead to stomach problems. In large quantities, watermelon has been shown to lead to discomfort in those with very sensitive stomachs.

What You Should Know About Watermelons

While watermelon is a widely-enjoyed treat and healthy dessert, most people would be surprised to learn it’s not a fruit, but instead a member of the pumpkin family. In size and weight, watermelon has a lot in common with its pumpkins, sometimes weighing up to a few pounds each. However, the watermelon is not round like most pumpkins, but instead generally grows in an oblong shape.

Watermelon flesh is generally light or dark red, though there are a few yellow varieties, and always filled with small black seeds. Generally, the seeds are not consumed, however, they are a rich source of nutrients, including magnesium, zinc, and iron. They also aid digestion - provided they are chewed and not simply swallowed. Dried, roasted and salted, they make a delicious and healthy snack.

Origins

While the watermelon originally comes from Africa, it can be grown in any tropical or subtropical climate. The watermelon is particularly popular in Turkey, among other countries, where you can buy it in pieces on almost every street corner as a snack.

Seasonality

Watermelon season in the United States begins in early summer and runs until the end of September. However, watermelon is usually available in stores through fall and winter as well, with harvests taking place overseas. 

Flavor

Watermelon flesh ranges from a crunchy, firm texture to rather soft and very juicy, depending on variety and ripeness. Despite their high water content, watermelons have a slightly sweet and unique taste.

Varieties

There are over 150 different varieties of watermelon. Relatively new is the yellow watermelon. In contrast to the red watermelon, it has fewer seeds and firmer flesh.

Our Favorite Watermelon Recipes

Find all our watermelon recipes here.

How Healthy Are Watermelons?

The high water content of watermelon makes it the perfect fruit for those looking to lose weight or stay slim. It’s pleasantly sweet while low in sugar, and its high water content makes watermelon low in calories. 

Its rich potassium content regulates the balance of acids and electrolytes in your body while promoting the healthy function of muscles and organs like the kidney. High levels of vitamin A in watermelon also aids the health of eyes and skin, helping protect our bodies from UV radiation. This unique breed of pumpkin also scores high marks as a good source of beta-carotene. 

As a reminder, watermelon flesh in large quantities can cause discomfort if you have a sensitive stomach.

Watermelon Nutritional Info (100 g)  
Calories 39
Protein 0.6 g
Fat 0.2 g
Carbohydrates 8 g
Fiber 0.2 g 


Shopping and Cooking Tips

Shopping

Watermelon can be bought whole or pre-cut at many supermarkets. Unfortunately, you can’t tell from the outside whether a watermelon is ripe and sweet. However, when buying a whole watermelon, the knock test will tell you whether it’s worth grabbing. Just tap your knuckle against the thick green skin; if it sounds hollow, the inside of the fruit is dry or unripe. A full, deep sound, on the other hand, indicates ripe flesh.

Storage

A whole watermelon can be kept fresh for several weeks in the refrigerator. Once cut, watermelon can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days before it becomes bland and mealy.

Preparation

Depending on what you intend to do with the watermelon, there are several preparation options. One of the best ways to prepare a watermelon is with a melon scooper or by cutting it into slices with a large, heavy knife. Depending on the recipe, it can of course also be finely diced. You can remove most of the seeds from the flesh with a sharp knife. You can eat very small and soft seeds inside.

What to Make With Watermelon

Eaten plain, watermelon is irresistibly refreshing and delicious. However, the red or yellow flesh is also perfect in a summer fruit salad, paired with cheese or in a healthy smoothie. 

Watermelon slices or cubes can also be used to spice up savory summer salads, or transformed into delicious low-calorie ice cream. A cold bowl of watermelon is especially refreshing in the summer heat; if you like, mix the red fruit flesh with cucumber.

A piece of watermelon perched on the edge of a glass makes even the simplest drink an eye-catcher, and of course you can also decorate dishes with slices to make your meals more beautiful and delicious.

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