In the US, July is National Watermelon Month, so named not only because a cool, refreshing slice of watermelon represents the epitome of summer, but also because watermelon harvests peak this month.
Watermelon is now the most-consumed melon in the US (followed by cantaloupe and honeydew). This cousin to cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash is thought to have originated in Egypt close to 5,000 years ago, where it is depicted in hieroglyphics.
Today, upwards of 300 watermelon varieties are grown in the US and Mexico (although only about 50 are popular). You may think you know everything there is to know about this summertime fruit, but allow me to surprise you… watermelon is more than just delicious… it’s a super-healthy addition to your diet (in moderation, of course).
You just need to be careful when eating any melon, including watermelon. Eat melon alone or leave it alone because it will make your stomach groan. So ideally, no food 30 minutes before or after eating melons. Here are 6 watermelon facts that might surprise you:
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).
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.
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). 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. 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.
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.
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.)
5. It’s Mostly Water
This might not be surprising, but it’s still a fun fact; watermelon is more than 91 percent water. 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.
My Favorite Watermelon Recipe!
I first experienced watermelon kefir from David Wolfe! This quickly became my favorite watermelon recipe. Super hydrating, packed with electrolytes, antioxidants and probiotics. So simple to make and will really make your skin glow!
- Fresh watermelon juice (1 liter)
- 2-3 probiotic capsules
- 1 shot coconut kefir
Add all ingredients into a large, clean glass jar with the lid on but allowing to breathe. Depending on room temperature this might take about 12-24 hours to ferment (less time in the warmer weather). Leave overnight in a dark cupboard and check in the morning, the mixture should be slightly fizzy. Blend the mixture and enjoy over ice while soaking up some warm summer sun!
What's Your Favorite Way To Enjoy This Summer Fruit?