TODAY THE WORD is WATERMELON. With the summer arriving soon and flowers in full bloom, kids getting out of school, vacations being planned or in progress, summer vegetables being canned or frozen and mostly eaten, and the heat rising, what better subject than the coolness and refreshment which comes from watermelons? I love watermelon and look forward to the new crop every year. I like the seedless but I would never turn down a watermelon with seeds. I hadn’t tasted a yellow watermelon in years until a few weeks ago; it was good but there is something about the brilliant red bordered by the white and surrounded by a deep striped green rind. I have a special fondness for watermelon stemming from a childhood memory. My Mother’s Daddy, Granddaddy Holt, was a head guard at a prison work camp. That’s right the prisoners actually worked while incarcerated on farms. Granddaddy Holt loved to have his grandchildren come visit him and there were times when I and one of my cousins would stay for a few days. Granddaddy Holt was a big man, to the prisoners a strong one, but he was so good to us, spoiling us rotten while we visited and he taught me how to mix my eggs, bacon, and grits together and to this day, when I mix them, I still smile at the memory of Granddaddy showing us how to do it.
Each afternoon, if we wanted and we always wanted, he would send trustees with the truck with a couple of watermelons to his house from the prison fields. They would cut the watermelons open and we could eat “the heart” and more until we were about to burst. Oh, we loved Granddaddy and his melons. He was of the old school and for Christmas would roll fruit to the children. We didn’t care that it rolled on the floor, we loved the thought of love. So watermelons and fruit were gifts of love and they were so sweet. The deeper thought….When we stop and cherish sweet moments of our life, we find the things that may not have cost a lot mean the most to us. The important thought about the watermelons was Granddaddy took the time to care and spend time with his grandchildren. He loved sharing both his food and his valuable time. He didn’t take us to town all of the time; he didn’t try to buy our love; he gave his love! Watermelon is so good; Granddaddy’s love was so much sweeter!
6 Things You Didn’t Know About Watermelon
July 21, 2014
1. Watermelon Has More Lycopene Than Raw Tomatoes
Lycopene is a powerful carotenoid antioxidant that gives fruits and vegetables a pink or red color. It’s most often associated with tomatoes, but watermelon is actually a more concentrated source.
Compared to a large fresh tomato, one cup of watermelon has 1.5 times the lycopene (6 milligrams (mg) in watermelon compared to 4 mg in a tomato).3 More on why lycopene is so important shortly…
2. Watermelon Juice May Relieve Muscle Soreness
If you have a juicer, try juicing about one-third of a fresh watermelon and drinking its juice prior to your next workout. This contains a little over one gram of l-citrulline, an amino acid that seems to protect against muscle pain.
One study found that men who drank natural unpasteurized watermelon juice prior to their workouts had reduced muscle soreness 24 hours later compared to those who drank a placebo.4
You do need to be careful with drinking watermelon juice, though, as it contains a significant amount of fructose. It may be better to eat the entire fruit, or opt for these other tips to prevent muscle soreness.
3. Watermelon Is a Fruit and a Vegetable
Remember how watermelon is related to cucumbers, pumpkin, and squash? That’s because it’s part vegetable and part fruit (it’s a sweet, seed-producing plant, after all).5 The other clue that watermelon is both fruit and vegetable? The rind is entirely edible…
4. You Can Eat Watermelon Rind and Seeds
Most people throw away the watermelon rind, but try putting it in a blender with some lime for a healthy, refreshing treat.6 Not only does the rind contain plenty of health-promoting and blood-building chlorophyll, but the rind actually contains more of the amino acid citrulline than the pink flesh.7
Citrulline is converted to arginine in your kidneys, and not only is this amino acid important for heart health and maintaining your immune system, but it has been researched to have potential therapeutic value in over 100 health conditions.8
While many people prefer seedless watermelon varieties, black watermelon seeds are edible and actually quite healthy. They contain iron, zinc, protein, and fiber. (In case you were wondering, seedless watermelons aren’t genetically modified, as they’re the result of hybridization.9)
5. It’s Mostly Water
This might not be surprising, but it’s still a fun fact; watermelon is more than 91 percent water.10 This means that eating watermelon with you on a hot summer day is a tasty way to help you stay hydrated and avoid dehydration (it’s not a substitute for drinking plenty of fresh water, however).
6. Some Watermelon Are Yellow
The Yellow Crimson watermelon has yellow flesh with a sweeter, honey flavor than the more popular pink-fleshed Crimson Sweet. It’s likely that yellow watermelon offers its own unique set of nutritional benefits, but most research to date has focused on the pink-fleshed varieties.11
Lycopene: Watermelon’s Nutritional Claim to Fame
Watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene, with upwards of 6,500 micrograms (6.5 mg) in less than half a cup (the red-fleshed varieties will contain significantly more lycopene than yellow-fleshed watermelon).
Also noteworthy, the lycopene in watermelon appears to be quite stable, with little deterioration occurring even after it’s been cut and stored in the refrigerator for more than two days. In one study, it took about seven days of storage for the lycopene to deteriorate, and then it was only by about 6 percent to 11 percent.12
So what makes lycopene so important? Lycopene’s antioxidant activity has long been suggested to be more powerful than that of other carotenoids, such as beta-carotene. In one study, after controlling for other stroke risk factors, such as older age and diabetes, they found that men with the highest blood levels of lycopene were 55 percent less likely to have a stroke than those with the lowest.13
A 2014 meta-analysis also revealed that lycopene decreased stroke risk (including stroke occurrence or mortality) by more than 19 percent.14 In addition to lowering your risk of stroke, lycopene has been shown to have potential anti-cancer activity, likely due to its potent antioxidant properties.
A 2014 meta-analysis of 10 studies also showed that dietary lycopene may protect against the risk of ovarian cancer among postmenopausal women.15 There is also some evidence from animal studies that lycopene may help with cancer treatment as well.
One study found that lycopene treatment reduced the growth of brain tumors while another showed frequent lycopene intake suppressed breast tumor growth in mice.16
Watermelon Extract May Significantly Reduce Blood Pressure
New research also highlights the role of watermelon nutrients on heart attack prevention, via a significant reduction in blood pressure. Obese study participants who received citrulline and arginine supplements derived from watermelon extract had significant improvements in blood pressure and cardiac stress, both while at rest and undergoing a stressful cold-water test.17 According to the researchers:
“Watermelon supplementation reduced aortic BP [blood pressure] and myocardial oxygen demand during CPT [cold pressor test] and the magnitude of the cold-induced increase in wave reflection in obese adults with hypertension. Watermelon may provide cardioprotection by attenuating cold-induced aortic hemodynamic responses.”
Remember, in your body the citrulline in watermelon is converted into L-arginine, which is a precursor to nitric oxide. Adequate nitric oxide is required to enable you blood vessels to stay relaxed and open for blood flow, which is one reason why it may help lower blood pressure.
Watermelon for Inflammation, Sexual Health, and More
L-arginine may also help with erectile dysfunction by helping to relax your blood vessels, including those supplying blood to your penis – and that’s why watermelon is sometimes referred to as “Nature’s Viagra.” In fact, citrulline supplementation has been found to improve erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction.18
What else is watermelon good for? It’s rich in anti-inflammatory substances. For instance, watermelon contains the anti-inflammatory antioxidant lycopene as well as cucurbitacin E, or tripterpenoid, which reduces the activity of the pain and inflammation-causing enzyme cyclooxygenase – the same enzyme blocked by COX-2 inhibitors, which include most NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen. While being very low in calories (about 46 calories in a cup), watermelon also contains an impressive variety of other important nutrients in which many Americans are lacking, including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin A
DAILY FEATURED BIBLE VERSE:
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(c) copyright 2012-2016 Arline Lott Miller. The material here copyrighted, use only by permission. Third party material sourced for origination.