Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Juicy Watermelons

watermelon

There is more to summer than muggy afternoons and parched throats. Summer offers unique bounty of fruits, like—mangoes, melons, litchis and watermelons. True to its name watermelon has an extremely high water content, approximately 92%, giving its flesh a crumbly and subtly crunchy texture and making it a favourite thirst-quenching fruit. In the capital during the months of summer you can see giant green melons sitting pretty on the sidewalks, perched one on the top of another in neat rows. As a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, the watermelon is related to the cantaloupe, squash and pumpkin, other plants that also grow on vines on the ground.

History–Originating in Africa, watermelons were first cultivated in Egypt where testaments to their legacy were recorded in hieroglyphics painted on building walls. The fruit was held in such high regard that it was placed in the tombs of many Egyptian kings. It is not surprising that watermelon played such an important role in this country, and subsequently in countries in the Mediterranean region, since water was often in short supply in these areas, and people could depend upon watermelon for its thirst-quenching properties.

Nutritional benefits–

Antioxidant powerhouse–Watermelon is more than a summer fruit; it is an antioxidant powerhouse. Watermelon is enriched with lycopene—a powerful antioxidant. Until now we thought tomatoes as a standard source of lycopene. Research at the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, US shows that watermelon has not only higher lycopene than tomatoes but it is more easily available to the body for absorption than tomatoes. Add to this super dose of vitamins A and C and this luscious fruit transforms in to an antioxidant powerhouse. Antioxidants are substances that quell free radicals. Free radicals are substances in the body that can cause a great deal of damage. They are able to oxidise cholesterol, making it stick to blood vessel walls, where it can lead to heart attack or stroke. They can add to the severity of asthma attacks by causing airways to clamp down and close. They can increase the inflammation that occurs in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and cause most of the joint damage that occurs in these conditions, and they can damage cells lining the colon, turning them into cancer cells.

Energy production–Watermelon is rich in the B vitamins necessary for energy production. Watermelon is a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of vitamin B1, magnesium, and potassium.

Dieters delight–A watermelon’s delectable flesh has no cholesterol and virtually no fat (almost none of which is saturated) — a stellar accomplishment for a food often served as a dessert. A whole cup of watermelon contains only 48 calories.
Remember that
o Storing the whole fruit at room temperature may be good for it. An experiment performed by scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture suggests that whole watermelon is more nutritious if it is stored at room temperature.
o However, transfer the cut fruit to refrigerator immediately.
o Bacteria can grow on the rind of the fruit. Wash it well before you slice it.

Make friends with giant green melons this summer and watch summer heat vanish away.

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