Food of the Month: Watermelon!

With summer in full swing, it seems that watermelon was the obvious choice for July’s Food of the Month blog. This popular summer fruit is not only yummy but it is packed with nutrients, easy to use, and is a crowd pleaser.

WatermelonWatermelon is thought to have originated from Africa, went to Asia and Europe before arriving in North America. Today, watermelon is grown around the world with China being the leading grower. Although, the United States is also a leading producer of this fruit with approx. four billion grown each year.

The watermelon is part of the Cucurbitaceae Family, which includes the cantaloupes, squashes, pumpkins, and cucumbers. These veggies and fruits all grow on vines along the ground.

Health Benefits:

When most people think of watermelon they think high water content, which is the main nutrient in this fruit. Did you know that this popular summer fruit is full vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients?

Watermelon contains vitamins and minerals that aid the body in a host of functions. One of these vitamins is C, which supports the immune system, builds collagen in the skin, and supports eye health.

Lycopene is carotenoid phytonutrient (natural chemicals that help prevent disease) that has been shown to support cardiovascular and bone health. This antioxidant is found in the red fleshy part of the watermelon.

Cut WatermelonOther interesting health benefits of watermelon include minerals (found in the seeds), protein, and dietary fiber. While these nutrients may not be the main sources they are worth mentioning, as they are part of what makes a watermelon nutrient rich.

Drawbacks of Eating Watermelon?

Many people associate watermelons with a high natural sugar content, which depending on the size of watermelon can average around 17 grams per slice. If eaten with protein and healthy fats, then the blood sugar should not raise much. If you or a family member has blood sugar sensitivities or other issues, then eat watermelon in smaller quantities and with other foods.

There are many food items that are watermelon flavored or contain watermelon. Sometimes, these products can add sugar, preservatives, flavorings, or other additives that can negate any nutritional benefit of watermelon. Check out the nutritional facts and ingredients to get the lowdown on the watermelon products. Consuming watermelon closest to its natural state will maximize the health benefits.

How to Select and Store:

There are between 600 – 1,000 different varieties of watermelon around the world, so you have options when it comes to selecting the perfect watermelon.

One of the more controversial aspects of watermelon is the origin of the seedless varieties. According to World’s Healthiest Food Website, the seedless watermelon is a result of hybridization, not genetic engineering. This is a result of crossing plants (with less seeds and plants with seeds) to create a watermelon that is seedless. Now days, there are many watermelons that are seed free or have white pods in them, which is not actually a seed. This does beg the question, how do you grow a seedless watermelon from seed? 😉

Seedless WatermelonMany grocery stores, will pre-cut watermelon, which is a great option to cut down the mess and time. If you purchase pre-cut watermelon consume it within a few days, as it will began to get mushy.

If you opt to buy the whole watermelon, there are a few things to look for:

WatermelonHeaviness: the heavier the watermelon, the higher the water content, which translates to juicy!

The Outside: the rind should be smooth and have a soft green color. Also, look at the bottom of the watermelon, often called the “under belly” as it is spot where the watermelon sat on the ground. This should be a creamy yellow color, and if it is white or green it could mean the watermelon is not ripe yet.

The Thump: many people like to thump or knock on the watermelon. I remember watching my parents walk around the watermelon bin, knocking on them. They both swear by this method. Although, I have not had a lot of luck with this technique. If you want to give it a try, listen for a deeper noise vs. a higher one.

Organic or conventionally grown: While there are some pesticides used with conventionally grown watermelons, they are on the lower end than other produce. Thus with a good wash it is consider safe to consume. However, if you want to be extra safe, buy organic and grown in the United States and if possible within 100 miles.

Storage: keep uncut watermelons in less than 60 degrees and out of direct sunlight. Also, many people feel that storing an uncut watermelon in the fridge will decrease the taste of the watermelon. Keeping cut watermelon in the fridge in a sealed container and consume within a few days for maximum freshness and taste.

Recipes and Uses:

Watermelon is a versatile fruit that can be used in salads, smoothies, cold soup, eaten raw, and even pickled!

Many people like to add chili flakes, salt, lime, and other seasonings to their watermelon as they feel it adds a punch of flavor.

Some of the Beanster’s Bytes favorite ways to enjoy watermelon:

Snack Foods for a Party

Elmo and Friends Fruit and Vegetable Platters

Summer Frozen Treats Video

Extra tip: if you have watermelon that is getting mushy, put it in the freezer. You can use it as ice cubes, in smoothies, or as a blended juice.

WatermelonDoes your family love watermelon? How do you use it? Post it below!

Water and Melon,

Mrs. Know it All

 

Sources:

World’s Healthiest Foods – Watermelon

Blood Sugar and Watermelon

 

 

I am a Nutritionist and Blogger who is not known for her plating of food or photo skills. I love to empower people to live the busy lives they have created, while being healthy, happy, and hopefully at their best every day.
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  1. Pingback: Watermelon Granita | Beansters Bytes

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