Watermelon: Not Watered Down When it Comes to Nutrition
Watermelon may be “watery”, but it is not watered down when it comes to nutrition. Even though it is more than 90 percent water, two cups of diced watermelon – that is about 10 ounces – offers:
- 38 percent of the vitamin C you need in a day
- 32 percent of vitamin A you need in a day
- a small amount of protein and fiber.
And all for a mere 85 calories!
Even More Nutrients
Watermelon is also a good source of lycopene. Lycopene gives fruits like watermelon, tomatoes, and pink grapefruit their red color. Lycopene protects against prostate cancer and possibly other cancers. It also protects cells from damage associated with heart disease.
In addition, your body changes the citrulline in watermelon into arginine. Arginine is an amino acid that plays a key role in:
- cell division
- wound healing
- removal of ammonia in the body.
How to Choose a Watermelon
Part of the challenge with watermelon is choosing one that is ripe. That is not always easy to figure out. The fact sheet “Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Melons” from Ohio State University Extension offers some suggestions to help you out:
- Examine the rind and find the spot where the melon had been resting on the ground. This area should be yellow-white. If it is white or pale green, it was picked too early.
- Scratch the surface of the rind with your thumbnail. If the outer layer slips back with little resistance showing the green-white under the rind, the watermelon is ripe. If all you get is a darker depressed line, the melon is not ripe.
- When purchasing cut watermelon, look for more red flesh and less white rind to find riper melons. White seeds usually mean the melon was picked too early — unless you are looking at a seedless watermelon. In that case, any white seeds you see are really just empty seed coats.
Clean Before You Cut
Before cutting into watermelon – or any melon – be sure to thoroughly rinse it under clean running water. You may even want to scrub it with a soft-bristled brush while rinsing. This will help remove any contaminants on the rind that could spread to the fruit inside when you slice through it.
Storing Watermelon Safely
If you think your watermelon is not quite ripe yet, keep it at room temperature for a few days. It will continue to ripen if it is not too mature. But only whole, uncut watermelon should be left unrefrigerated. Once it is cut, watermelon needs to be kept at 40 degrees F or below.
Anytime of the year, watermelon makes a nutritiously delicious addition to your menu!
This article originally appeared in Chow Line (6/28/13), a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.
For more information:
Go to the Diet and Nutrition health topic.