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Monday, July 20, 2015

The wonders of WATERMELON: more than just delicious and refreshing...

The question is, why is there so much craze for the watermelon? At first glance, it may seem like nothing more than a big ball of water.  We all know that there is nothing more refreshing than a big, chilled wedge of watermelon on a hot, summer day and it does sport a stylish scientific name of Citrullus Lanatus, but what’s the real reason so many people flock to grocery stores every summer to buy a big, awkward fruit like this one? Well, it is hard to narrow it down to a single reason; there are actually a lot of them.
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. 
As for accessing the total medicinal benefits of watermelons, it is highly dependent on the variety of watermelon and the ripeness. Beta carotene and lycopene is usually bio-available in the highest quantities once the watermelon is completely ripe, and don’t be afraid to eat some of the watermelon rind; there are quite a few nutrients in there as well, particularly the roughage and fiber.

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.

Health Benefits of Watermelons

Kidney Disorders: Watermelons contain a lot of potassium, which is very helpful in cleaning or washing out the toxic depositions in the kidneys. Moreover, it is 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. Added to this, being high in water content, it induces frequent urinating, which is again helpful for cleaning of the kidneys. Also, the anti oxidants present in watermelon ensure good health of the kidneys for a long time, and reduce signs of premature aging 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 the summer to protect themselves from heat stroke. In India, you will find the fruit being sold by vendors in almost every street during the summer season. The high amount of water contained in watermelon also stimulates a release of excess liquid in the form of sweat, which cools your body further during hot summer days.
High Blood Pressure: The good amount of potassium and magnesium that is present in watermelons is very beneficial in terms of bringing down blood pressure. Potassium is considered a vasodilator, meaning that it releases the tension of blood vessels and arteries, thereby stimulating increased blood flow and reducing the stress on the cardiovascular system. The carotenoids present in these fruits also prevent hardening of artery walls and veins, thereby helping to reduce blood pressure and the chances of blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, and atherosclerosis. 
Prevents Cancer: Watermelons have been in the public eye more and more in recent years, primarily because of their impressive level of lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient compound that is increasingly being linked to cancer prevention. As the years go by and the studies continue to bring in consistent results, 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!
Diabetes: Diabetic patients, who are supposed to have a 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 give you very few calories, since ninety nine percent of its total weight is composed of water and roughage. Moreover, the various 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 effective at enhancing the impact of insulin on blood sugar. Diabetic patients can also have curries, steaks, and salads made from water melon rinds, which are even lower in sugar.
Heart Care: Lypocene, a carotenoid found in abundance in watermelon, improves cardiac functions. Beta carotene, known for its remarkable antioxidant and anti-aging properties, also keeps you young at heart and prevents age-related cardiac problems. The roughage in water melon and its very low energy, along with help from vitamin-C, carotenoids and potassium (potassium cuts the risk of a heart attack), helps to reduce cholesterol and keep your heart safe from a variety of dangerous conditions.
Macular Degeneration: Don’t worry about eye health and macular degeneration if you eat plenty of watermelon, because between the beta carotene, vitamin-C, lutein, and zeaxanthin, your eyes are well protected. They will ensure protection of your eyes from age-related blindness and degeneration, and these antioxidants will protect your eyes from other age-related ailments such as drying up of eyes and optical nerves, as well as glaucoma.
Impotence: Arginine, present in watermelon, is beneficial in curing erectile dysfunction, and the stimulating nature of the chemical can boost libido, reduce frigidity and give a kick start to your love life, after you enjoy a few slices of watermelon together!
Other Benefits: Lypocene is found to be effective in repairing damaged tissues. Watermelon seeds are rich in beneficial fats and proteins. Watermelons also contain phytonutrients which have very good effects on the health and proper functioning of internal organs, eyes, and the secretion system.

How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon



Cutting into a watermelon and finding out it lacks flavor is disappointing. There's a trick you can use to pick out a ripe watermelon, either from your farmer's market or your own melon patch. Look for a pale, buttery-yellow spot (not white or green) on the bottom. This is where the watermelon sits on the ground ripening, and it's one of the best indicators of ripeness you can use (even commercial watermelon pickers use this as a gauge). Other tricks for picking a ripe watermelon include:
  • Should be heavy for its size
  • Smooth rind with a dull top (the top is the side opposite the ground spot)
  • The thump test (this is controversial, but ripe watermelon is said to have a hollow bass sound)
Store your watermelon in a cool area (50-60 degrees F) until it's cut. Cut watermelon should be refrigerated (and be sure to wipe off your watermelon with a damp cloth prior to cutting it). Remember, try the rind blended with some lime juice rather than simply tossing it in the trash (choose an organic watermelon especially if you'll be eating the rind). Finally, watermelon should be enjoyed in moderation due to its fructose content. One-sixteenth of a medium watermelon contains 11.3 grams of fructose (it's recommended keeping your total fructose intake below 25 grams of fructose per day if you're in good health, and below 15 grams a day if you're overweight or have high blood pressure or diabetes).

Sources: http://articles.mercola.com/, https://www.organicfacts.net/, http://www.whfoods.com/