Watermelon’s botanical name, Citrullus vulgaris, comes from the diminutive form of citrus, referring to the color and shape of the fruit, and vulgaris meaning common or ordinary fruit. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where its English common name, watermelon, comes from. The flesh of this succulent fruit is over 90 percent water.
Native to Africa, it was a valuable and portable source of water for desert situations and when natural water supplies were contaminated. Watermelons were cultivated in Egypt and India as far back as 2500 B.C. as evidenced in ancient hieroglyphics.
- More than 1,200 varieties of watermelons are grown worldwide in 96 countries—some oval, some round, some with yellow flesh instead of red.
- Watermelons have been crossbred to yield more fruit and less rind, to have hardier rinds (easier to ship and store) and be disease- and pest-resistant.
- By weight, watermelon is the most-consumed melon in the U.S., followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
Nutritional Value of Watermelons
The long list of healthy or beneficial effects of watermelons are mainly derived from its unique nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds.
These include significant amounts of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, fiber, protein, and a very large amount of potassium. Furthermore, they contain vitamin A, vitamin B6, niacin, thiamin, and a wide variety of carotenoids and phytonutrients, including lycopene!
These components of watermelons contribute to its major impact on health; let’s explore some more details of those benefits below.
Health Benefits of Watermelons
Watermelons contain a lot of potassium, which is very helpful in cleaning or washing out the toxic depositions in the kidneys. Moreover, it is helpful in reducing the concentration of uric acid in the blood. Thereby reducing the chances of kidney damage and the formation of renal calculi in that organ.
Added to this, being high in water content, it induces frequent urinating, which is again helpful for cleaning of the kidneys. Also, the anti oxidants present in watermelon ensure good health of the kidneys for a long time. And reduce signs of premature aging like wrinkles and age spots on the skin.
Prevents Heat Stroke:
Watermelon is effective in reducing both your body temperature and blood pressure. Many people in tropical regions eat this fruit every day in the afternoon during the summer to protect themselves from heat stroke.
In India, you will find the fruit being sold by vendors in almost every street during the summer season. The high amount of water contained in watermelon also stimulates a release of excess liquid in the form of sweat. Which cools your body further during hot summer days.
High Blood Pressure:
The good amount of potassium and magnesium that is present in watermelons is very beneficial in terms of bringing down blood pressure. Potassium is considered a vasodilator, meaning that it releases the tension of blood vessels and arteries, thereby stimulating increased blood flow and reducing the stress on the cardiovascular system.
The carotenoids present in these fruits also prevent hardening of artery walls and veins, thereby helping to reduce blood pressure and the chances of blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, and atherosclerosis.
Diabetic patients, who are supposed to have a low energy and low sugar diet, often complain about starving since they don’t get to eat their staple diets, which gives them the feeling of being half fed. Watermelons can be a good supplement for them.
In spite of being sweet in taste, a thick wedge will give you very few calories, since ninety nine percent of its total weight is composed of water and roughage. Moreover, the various vitamins and minerals such as potassium and magnesium help in proper functioning of insulin in the body, thus lowering the blood sugar level.
Arginine, another component found in watermelons, is very effective at enhancing the impact of insulin on blood sugar. Diabetic patients can also have curries, steaks, and salads made from water melon rinds, which are even lower in sugar.
Lypocene, a carotenoid found in abundance in watermelon, improves cardiac functions. Beta carotene, known for its remarkable antioxidant and anti-aging properties, also keeps you young at heart and prevents age-related cardiac problems.
The roughage in water melon and its very low energy, along with help from vitamin-C, carotenoids and potassium (potassium cuts the risk of a heart attack), helps to reduce cholesterol and keep your heart safe from a variety of dangerous conditions.
Don’t worry about eye health and macular degeneration if you eat plenty of watermelon, because between the beta carotene, vitamin-C, lutein, and zeaxanthin, your eyes are well protected.
They will ensure protection of your eyes from age-related blindness and degeneration, and these antioxidants will protect your eyes from other age-related ailments such as drying up of eyes and optical nerves, as well as glaucoma.
Arginine, present in watermelon, is beneficial in curing erectile dysfunction, and the stimulating nature of the chemical can boost libido, reduce frigidity and give a kick start to your love life, after you enjoy a few slices of watermelon together!
Lypocene is found to be effective in repairing damaged tissues. Watermelon seeds are rich inbeneficial fats and proteins. Watermelons also contain phytonutrients which have very good effects on the health and proper functioning of internal organs, eyes, and the secretion system.
How to cut a watermelon:
How To Cut a Watermelon Into Bite-Sized Pieces
What You Need
1 whole watermelon
Large, sharp knife
Large bowl or plate
Place on a cutting board:
Start with a whole, half, or quarter watermelon, and place it on a large cutting board.
Cut the watermelon in half:
If you’re using a whole watermelon, cut it in half lengthwise.
Quarter the watermelon:
Cut each half in half again, so the whole watermelon is now quartered.
Slice into wedges:
Working with one quarter at a time, make slices 1 to 2 inches wide, across the melon. Cutting just down to the white rind. Do not slice all the way through the bottom of the melon.
Make lengthwise slices along the melon:
Starting on the side of the watermelon about an inch below the peak, insert your knife with the tip pointing down. Make a lengthwise slice across the quarter. Cutting down so the tip of the knife runs along the rind. Do not cut through the bottom of the watermelon.
Make another lengthwise slice 1 to 2 inches below the slice you just made. Again, slice along the length of the quartered watermelon. With the tip of the knife angled down so it runs along the rind, without cutting through the bottom of the melon. For larger melons, you may need to repeat this step a third time.
Turn and repeat:
Turn the watermelon around and repeat on the other side.
Slice to remove the flesh from the rind:
Use a sweeping motion to slice between the watermelon flesh and rind. Hold the top pieces in place, if necessary.
Turn the watermelon into a bowl:
Turn and pour the watermelon into a large bowl or plate.
Here are a few recipes:
CAPRESE SALAD WITH A TWIST
The absence of tomatoes takes out all the acidity, which makes the fresh lemon zest sing all the more brightly. Writes Rachael Bryant of Meatified about her tomato-free caprese salad.
(Bryant is so well-versed in watermelon that you’ll also find her homemade gummy candy recipe later in this slideshow.) To make it more of a robust evening meal. Bryant often adds a sliced Italian meat such as salami.
Get the Recipe: Watermelon Caprese Salad
FLAVORFUL FISH TACOS
To encourage kids to eat fish. Pediatric dietician Corrine Fischer of Keep Your Diet Real suggests serving it in tacos paired with this tropically inflected watermelon salsa (for younger children, you may need to dial down the jalepeño accordingly).
Wondering which type of fish will work best? Fischer suggests using Atlantic cod, tilapia, tuna, haddock, catfish or mahi mahi.
Get the Recipe: Fish Tacos with Watermelon Salsa