Watermelon might be 92 per cent water but don’t be fooled, this low-calorie summer snack packs a nutritious punch.
Watermelon is loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids that are not only a great way to hydrate and satisfy a sweet-tooth craving but are also known as a disease-fighting dietary addition.
“It’s practically a multi-vitamin,” Eleanor Bullock told us from Cordele, Georgia. “It’s one of the most nutritious fruits out there.”
Bullock is the U.S.-based National Watermelon Association’s promotions coordinator and says the fruit not only nourishes the body but is easy on the wallet.
With one watermelon serving up to 36 people, she says it’s the least expensive per serving fruit in the produce department.
Is Watermelon Good for You?
Experts say, absolutely. Watermelons, which typically take 85 to 100 days to mature, contain lots of antioxidants and amino acids which does the body good.
“Antioxidants help prevent damage and cancer,” Angela Lemond, a registered dietician nutritionist says in Live Science. “Amino acids are the basic building block for protein and protein is used in virtually every vital function in the body.”
Watermelons also contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that’s been linked to heart and bone health and possible prevention of age-related eye disorders. The National Cancer Institute mentions studies linking lycopene to stopping the spread of prostate cancer cells.
Nutritionist, Victoria Jarzabkowski, says those anti-inflammatory elements are good news for people suffering from conditions like arthritis. And watermelon’s choline content helps keep chronic inflammation down.
But that’s not all, there are other benefits of watermelon.
The juicy, sweet taste of watermelon is more than a lovely treat. It’s a wholesome snack that promotes a healthy digestive tract and, along with its fibre content assists with keeping you, ahem, regular. Vitamin A and C benefit the hair and according to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, drinking watermelon juice prior to an intense work-out helps reduce muscle soreness the next day.
Nutritional Benefits of Watermelon
A two-cup serving of Watermelon contains:
- 12 grams of carbohydrates
- 170 milligrams of potassium
- 0.1 milligrams of vitamin B6
- Zero fat, cholesterol or sodium.
Top 5 ways to eat Watermelon:
- Au naturel
- Lightly grilled (about two minutes each side)
- Blended into a beverage or smoothie
- Added to a salad or stir-fry
- Pickling the rind
Watermelon is a nutritious alternative to many snacks because it has no sodium, bad fats and is just 40 calories per cup.
It is, be warned, relatively high in sugar.
In fact, Watermelon is so good the National Watermelon Association crowns a queen each year to travel around the world promoting its qualities.
Bullock – who likes her watermelon plain, in salsa or mixed into a Mediterranean feta salad - says at least 90 per cent of the precious pink and green produce consumed by Canadians are imported from the U.S.
“We call it the ‘smile fruit,’” she says. “Go out and enjoy a slice of the good life.”
Watermelon Fun Facts
- Early explorers used watermelons as canteens
- The first cookbook published in the U.S. in 1776 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles
- About 200 to 300 varieties are grown in the U.S and Mexico but only about 50 are popular
- By weight watermelon is the most-consumed melon in the U.S. followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
Record-setting Feats of Watermelon
- Most watermelons crushed with the head in one minute: 43
- Fastest time to crush three watermelons with the thighs: 14.65 seconds
- Heaviest watermelon: 82 lbs
- Watermelon seed spitting - farthest distance: 75 feet and 2 inches
- Most chopped on the stomach on a bed of nails in one minute: 14
Find more mouth-watering recipes and watermelon tips including, how to cut your watermelon, at watermelon.org