What’s over 90% water and considered both a fruit and a vegetable? Watermelon! With summer quickly approaching on Friday, June 21st, it is hard not to mention watermelon. Watermelon is a summer delight being extremely hydrating and flavorful. It is a pleasure to know that watermelon has many health benefits including:
- Vitamin C – essential for a healthy immune system and can protect your body against viruses and infections.
- Vitamin A – great for eye health & healthy skin complexion.
- Vitamin B6 – important for brain development and for keeping the nervous system and immune system healthy.
- Lycopene – a red carotenoid pigment that serves as an antioxidant. One study found that lycopene in watermelon is effective in reducing 1) cancer progression, 2) cardiovascular (heart) disease, 3) diabetes, and 4) macular disease (an eye disease that can cause vision loss). It was found that watermelon has more lycopene than tomatoes.
- Sun protection – lycopene may help protect your skin against sunburn and damage, but it is not an alternative to sunscreen.
- Antioxidant – can help protect against cell damage from free radicals to help improve our health.
- Hydration – with watermelon being 92% water, it is more like a sweetened beverage full of healthy vitamins and nutrients.
- Potassium – “an electrolyte that counteracts the effects of sodium, helping to maintain consistent blood pressure. Potassium is also important for maintaining the balance of acids and bases in the body”.
- Calcium – supports bone health.
How to pick a ripe watermelon according to watermelonfacts.org?
- Look for a creamy yellow patch on the underside of the watermelon. The yellow spot is where it sat on the ground while ripening in the sun.
- Being mostly water, watermelon should feel heavy for its size.
- Make sure there are no cracks, cuts, or bruises.
Also, remember to wash your watermelon before cutting into it and yes, 100% of the watermelon is edible.
It takes watermelon about 90 days to grow so keep that in mind as you enjoy your watermelon this season!
Jessica Winker, MPH