Have you ever wondered why so many people crave for watermelon and why it is a favourite fruit for many? It is because watermelon is a super nutritious fruit in every sense of the word.
Watermelon, botanically known as citrullus lanatus, is a native of Africa, originating in the Southern African region. It is a favourite fruit in Nigeria. Watermelon grows well in the temperate areas, which explains why it produces very well in northern Nigeria such as Plateau state where the climate is less hot. However, watermelon can be cultivated in any part of Nigeria if adequate soil moisture is maintained. It is said that watermelon grew wildly in the African forest over 1000 years ago, from where it was transported to Asia and America, and other parts of the world. Watermelon has been selected and produced as a hybrid, which has resulted in the bigger and sweeter variety that is popular today.
The outer rind of watermelon fruit is green, hard and thick and slightly sour in taste, while the interior is red or pink, succulent and sweet but not sugary in taste, and contains many seeds. Watermelon is most nutritious when it is fully ripe. For this reason, very ripe watermelon is best if one wants to get its full medicinal values.
Watermelon is known to be very high in Beta-carotene and lycopene when it is very ripe. The rind is also said to be edible, preferably after boiling. A lot of people have asked me if it is safe to blend the skin and seeds of watermelon and drink. The answer is yes, there is no harm in blending both the seeds and the skins of the ripe watermelon fruit. Note, however, that apart from the fibre and roughage, there are little nutrients in the skins. The ripe interior is the most nutritious and beneficial part of the fruit.
Watermelon is rich in vitamins A, B6, C, calcium, magnesium, protein, potassium, niacin and thiamine. However, lycopene, which is also present in tomato, is the most well-known phytonutrient present in watermelon. Watermelon is made up of 92% water, has little or no fat, is low in sodium and also low in calories. Fruits like watermelon allow the human body to function optimally because of the high contents of antioxidants. Antioxidants are good protection against cancer, arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure, while Amino Acids boost the body’s immune system, thereby protecting against all forms of diseases. Lycopene, which is also present in tomatoes, grapefruits and guava, is beneficial for a healthy heart, strong bone, and helps to
prevent prostate cancer.
To really maximize your lycopene intake, let your watermelon fully ripen. The redder your watermelon gets, the higher the concentration of lycopene becomes. Beta-carotene and phenolic antioxidant content also increase as the watermelon ripens. Watermelon seeds are also very nutritious, especially if they are sprouted and shelled. They are high in protein, magnesium, vitamin B and good fats. But do not substitute the seeds or the rinds for the fruit itself. Other benefits of watermelon are:
Treats Kidney Disorders
Watermelons contain a lot of potassium, which is very helpful in cleaning out the toxic depositions in the kidney.
Moreover, they are helpful in reducing the concentration of uric acid in the blood, thereby reducing the chances of kidney damage and the formation of renal calculi in that organ. In addition to this, being high in water content, watermelons induce frequent urinating, which is again helpful for cleaning of the kidneys. Also, the antioxidants present in watermelon ensure good health of the kidneys for a long time and reduce signs of premature ageing like wrinkles and age spots on the skin.
Prevents Heat Stroke
Watermelon is effective in reducing both your body temperature and blood pressure. Many people in tropical regions eat this fruit every day in the afternoon during summer to protect themselves from heat stroke. The high amount of water in watermelon also stimulates a release of excess liquid in
Regulates Blood Pressure
The amount of potassium and magnesium present in watermelons is very beneficial regarding lowering blood pressure. Potassium is considered a vasodilator, meaning that it releases the tension on blood vessels and arteries, thereby stimulating blood flow and reducing the stress on the cardiovascular system. The carotenoids present in these fruits also prevent hardening of artery walls and veins, thus helping to lower blood pressure and the chances of blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, and atherosclerosis.
Watermelons have gained a lot of attention in recent years, primarily because of their impressive level of lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient compound that is increasingly being linked to cancer prevention. Lycopene has been shown to significantly reduce the risks of prostate, breast, colon, lung, and endometrial cancer. All in all, between the antioxidant potential of vitamin C and the impact of lycopene, watermelon is a great anti-cancer fruit!
Diabetics, who are supposed to have low energy and low sugar diet, often complain about starving since they don’t get to eat their staple diets, which gives them the feeling of being half-fed. Watermelons can be a good supplement for them. In spite of being sweet in taste, a thick wedge will provide them with very few calories, since ninety-nine per cent of its total weight is composed of water and roughage. Moreover, the vitamins and minerals such as potassium and magnesium help in proper functioning of insulin in the body, thus lowering the blood sugar level. Arginine, another component found in watermelons, is very useful at enhancing the impact of insulin on blood sugar. Diabetics can also have curries, steaks, and salads made from watermelon rinds, which are even lower in sugar.
Lycopene, a carotenoid found in abundance in watermelon, improves cardiac functions. Beta-carotene, known for its excellent antioxidant and anti-ageing properties, keeps you young at heart and prevents age-related cardiac problems. The roughage in watermelon, with vitamin C, carotenoids and potassium (potassium cuts the risk of a heart attack), helps to reduce cholesterol and keep your heart safe from many dangerous conditions.
The best way to eat watermelon is to eat it. It’s as simple as that. Just make sure you go for the very ripe fruit. If you prefer to squeeze out the juice to drink, no problem. Some people prefer to blend the whole fruit: seeds and rinds inclusive, that is also good, provided you keep in mind that the fruit itself is the most nutritious and beneficial, not the seed or the skins. Want to give yourself a treat? Avoid the temptation to rush to the nearest fast-food shop. Go instead to the nearest local market where you can get yourself a healthy ball of watermelon, which is cheaper than a loaf of bread. Your body will be happy you did.