Health Benefits of Watermelon
During the peak of the summer season, nature provides us with the perfect cooling and healing food. Packed with some of the most important antioxidants, including cancer-fighting lycopene, in addition to its high water content, watermelon delivers more nutrients per calorie than many other fruits. While people may be concerned about watermelon’s sugar content, one cup contains only 48 calories and provides 19.5% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C and 13.9% of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. In addition, it’s a good source of B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and dietary fiber.
According to Paul Pitchford’s Healing with Whole Foods – Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, watermelon is cooling, removing heat from the body, builds body fluids, helps fight canker sores, battles depression, and can treat kidney and urinary tract inflammations. Watermelon nourishes the kidney ‘yin’ energy, which can help support kidney and adrenal function, often challenged by our high-stress lifestyles and high-protein diets.
Eating Watermelon Rind
Unknown to many, the rind can also be eaten, and it is traditionally used for balancing blood sugar and reducing high blood pressure. Its rich silicon content helps increase calcium absorption which supports the integrity of connective tissues such as blood vessels, tendons, and cartilage. Try juicing or placing whole slices of watermelon in a Vitamix (cut the rind into pieces first) to receive the benefits of the rind, seeds, and even the high-chlorophyll content in the skin.
Enjoying Watermelon Seeds
The seeds of watermelon are considered to be beneficial for the kidneys,. They also contain a compound called cucurbocitrin which dilates the capillaries, thereby lowering high blood pressure. Seeds can be eaten fresh if chewed well, roasted and eaten as snacks or added to trail mix. Dried seeds can also be ground and brewed into a tea.
According to David Wolfe, raw-food advocate and author of Sunfood Diet Success System, seedless fruit are the product of over-hybridization and are “unnaturally high in sugar, but low in minerals.” While seedless melons are certainly more convenient and less messy, consider seeded varieties to ensure the densest nutritional content.
How to Choose a Watermelon
Look for melons that are heavy for their size. They should sound hollow when thumped and have smooth skin and a pale underbelly, which indicates that they’ve been sitting in the sun ripening before they were harvested. If purchasing cut watermelon, look for brightly colored flesh in colors ranging from white to yellow, orange, pink and our revered bright red. Always wash the outside of the watermelon before slicing, as dirt, bacteria or other unwanted critters may hitch a ride on your knife and contaminate the flesh. Once sliced, refrigerate to extend shelf life.
Eat straight out of your hands while the juices dribble down your fingers. Or, toss melon cubes or balls into a summer fruit salad dressed with lime and cooling fresh mint leaves. To refresh on hot days, juice the flesh, rind, skin, and seeds, and add in a bit of ginger and cucumber.
In the following recipe, the melons’ colors and textures are so similar to the tomato, the first sweet bite is sure to surprise your dining companions, especially when amped up with the kick of jalapeño peppers and the zip of fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
1 lb watermelon, red or yellow (about half a small melon), preferably seedless
1 lb cantaloupe
2 lbs tomatoes in a variety of colors (about 3 medium tomatoes)
1 or 2 jalapenos, red and/or green
3 tbsp lime juice (about 2 limes)
3 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
10 drops liquid stevia OR 1 tbsp honey
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Garnish – 1tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- Halve the watermelon, then cut away the rind and slice thinly. Halve and seed the cantaloupe, then cut away the rind and slice thinly. Place melons in a shallow dish or rimmed platter.
- Slice the tomatoes crosswise into thin circles and add to platter.
- Slice jalapenos crosswise as thin as possible and place in a measuring cup or coffee mug. Juice the limes and lemon and add to the cup with stevia or honey, and salt. Whisk well, and then drizzle in the oil while whisking to combine.
- Drizzle dressing over sliced tomato and melon and garnish with fresh cilantro. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature. Note that the salad gets spicier the longer it sits!
This is particularly beautiful if you can find heirloom tomatoes and melon in a rainbow of colors in red, yellow, and even green and purple; regardless, it will taste delicious.
Red Jen Ford is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Yoga Instructor and Seasonal Eating Expert. Jen teaches her clients the benefits and simplicity of eating local, sustainably grown food. Enjoy more of her dishes in her seasonal recipe booklets or her online course, Simply in Season: Recipes to Celebrate Healthy, Easy Seasonal Food.