Watermelons not only taste good, they are quite good for you. The fact is that watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) are among the most loved fruits in the world. Despite this, many people don’t realize that they are also extremely healthy. In fact, many people don’t know much more than the fact that watermelons taste good.
Watermelons are of the cucurbit family, which includes the squashes, cucumbers, and pumpkins. It is a vine plant that originated in the southern part of Africa. One of the first surprising facts about watermelons is that they are technically berries. People have been eating them for a long time, too.
Watermelon seeds were found in the tomb of King Tut, so they were grown in ancient Egypt. They’ve been grown in America since at least the 1500’s and in Europe and China five or six hundred years earlier. Today, the most watermelons are grown in China, where over 70 million tons of the fruit are produced yearly. This easily eclipses the country that is in second place for watermelon production; Turkey at a little more than 4 million tons per year. (The United States produces a lot of watermelons, but it isn’t even in the top five countries for yearly production.)
Cultivars have been developed that have red, yellow, orange and nearly white flesh. There are ‘seedless’ varieties, though they do produce seeds, just not seeds with tough protective shells. Different kinds also produce large fruits, while others produce small ones, some can be oblong and others can be spherical. Most need a long growing season, but some have been developed that don’t need as long to mature. This means that there are types of watermelons that will even grow in the northern US, including in the mountains, as long as they are planted after all danger of frost. The plant is semi-tropical, so it begins to suffer when the air temperatures drop below 50 F.
All of the flesh of watermelon fruits, including the rinds, is edible. The rinds are most often pickled or thrown away, which is a pity. The rind can be eaten as if it was a vegetable. The seeds are also safe to eat and are occasionally roasted and eaten.
Watermelon flesh is mostly water, up to 90 percent, and for this reason, watermelon acts as a thirst-quencher. This fruit is exceptional for eating during the heat of summer as well because it is a very rich source of electrolytes, which are lost through sweating.
This fruit is very high in vitamin A, B vitamins, and C. It is also a good source of copper, iron, potassium, and magnesium. What many people don’t realize is that watermelons are great for preventing or fighting cancer, too. This is because the fruit contains lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin, all of which are anti-oxidants. Watermelon actually contains more lycopene than tomatoes, though tomatoes are more known for containing lycopene. Most adults don’t get enough lycopene in their diets, particularly women, so this is an excellent source.
For all the wonderful nutrition watermelons contain, they are quite low in calories. A half of a cup of watermelon has only 30 calories. This makes this a great fruit for people who are trying to lose weight. They are also good for diabetics. They contain sugars, but not in the amount that many fruits contain and the minerals and vitamins balance out the natural sugars. It goes without saying that they are also gluten-free.
Watermelon has been proven to lower high blood pressure and the fruit contains no cholesterol.
It is hard to find anyone who wouldn’t benefit from eating plenty of watermelon. Still, most people don’t really think about the health benefits. It is safe to say that most people who eat watermelons do so because of the natural and deliciously sweet flavor.