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Posts Tagged ‘lycopene’



 

Organic Seedless Watermelon

Watermelon is thought to first be cultivated around 5,000 years ago among Egyptians, and are found painted in hieroglyphics in buildings. They were highly prized and often buried in the tombs of kings for nourishment in the afterlife. Melons were cultivated for thousands of years in China, Greece, Rome, and the Mediterranean. At long last, they reached the United States with European colonists and African slaves. Now, over 1200 varieties of melons exist, with 200-300 varieties growing in the US and Mexico. Forty-four states now grow watermelon, with the biggest producers being California, followed by Florida, Texas, and Georgia. It’s inner flesh ranges from deep red to pink, orange, yellow, and rarely, white.

Watermelon provides about as much lycopene as two medium tomatoes. They are also a fine source of beta carotene. Studies have boosted watermelon’s status, showing that eating it with other fruit, can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Eating it with other carotenoid-containing foods can lower the risk of prostate cancer. Watermelon also provides a lot of water and minerals.

Not only this, but did you know that you can eat the rinds? Watermelon rind supplies citrulline, an amino acid that promotes nitric oxide’s production, which improves arterial blood flow and might reduce blood pressure. In many traditional African cuisines, watermelon flesh and seeds (a source of fatty acids and protein) are cooked and served as a vegetable. I’ve enjoyed pickled watermelon rind -which was sweet and heavily spiced with clove – with cream cheese and crackers. As a home remedy, the rind can be applied to skin that is suffering from the itch of poison ivy and poison oak for relief.

Did you know that the seeds are also edible? Human trials have shown that you can safely eat the seeds without risking sprouting a watermelon tree from your belly button! In some parts of India, the seeds are ground into flour. Watermelon seed tea was once used medicinally for reducing blood pressure and as a diuretic. In Russia, watermelon juice is also processed and enjoyed as an alcoholic beverage.

Even if you don’t plan to eat the rinds – just yet, anyway – people often think that the thick skin of the melon will protect it from the effects of pesticides. Not true! Depending on the variety of melon, its flesh is at least 90% water or more. This means that when your thirsty melon is slurping up every ounce of water it can find, it’s also gulping in any pesticides or other chemicals it encountered during its growing period.

 

Watermelon's Ripe Spot

Tip for selecting a ripe watermelon: Look for a melon that is heavy and has a hard rind. Be sure it is free of bruises and dents. Look for the spot where it sat on the ground. If the spot is yellow, it was allowed to ripen on the vine longer. If the spot is white, it is less ripe. Unfortunately, watermelons do not ripen off of the vine. The debate continues on as to whether thumping the melon to test ripeness actually works. An uncut melon will keep for up to 2 weeks at room temperature. Store cut melons, covered, in the refrigerator. Watermelon is best when it is grown in season.

I recently enjoyed a watermelon salad, made by my friend Nicole for our day at the beach in Lake Tahoe. She combined cut watermelon with chopped tomato, basil, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar. What a wonderful treat! It is also wonderful when paired with something salty or tangy, such as feta.  Here are some links to other watermelon recipes:

Tomato-Watermelon Soup with almonds, red-wine vinegar, and feta

Chilled Watermelon Soup with lime, mint & ginger

Thai Spiced Watermelon Soup

Watermelon-Jalapeno Salsa

Watermelon-Feta Salad

Please share your experiences with us: How do you like to eat your watermelon?

To Health and Happiness,

Frances

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