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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well

 

watermelon slicesWatermelon a tasty and healthy summer treat

Christeena Haynes, MS, RD, LD, former Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Dallas County, University of Missouri Extension

 

There is nothing better than eating a juicy slice of watermelon on a hot summer day — not only is watermelon a delicious treat, but it is also nutritious.

 

Watermelon is 92 percent water so it will keep you hydrated. It is high in lycopene, an antioxidant that may prevent some types of cancer and cardiovascular disease. A 2-cup serving of watermelon is an excellent source of vitamins A and C. Vitamin A keeps the eyes healthy, while vitamin C aids with faster healing. Watermelon is also a good source of vitamin B6, which helps boost the immune system, maintain regular nerve function and produce red blood cells. It also contains potassium, a mineral that assists with blood pressure regulation. In addition to these health benefits, watermelon is one of the fruits with the least amount of pesticide residues, according to the Environmental Working Group.

 

Watermelon has all of this to offer and it is also low in calories — there are only about 92 calories in 1⅔ cup.

 

When selecting a watermelon, follow these three simple steps.

  1. Inspect the watermelon to make sure it is firm, symmetrical and free from bruises and cuts.
  2. Lift it up to verify that it is heavy for its size.
  3. Turn the watermelon over. There should be a creamy yellow spot on one side from where it sat on the ground to ripen.

 

Uncut watermelon should be stored at room temperature until ready to eat. If the fruit is stored properly, uncut watermelon should last about two weeks. Once you are ready to eat it, wash the watermelon in running water, rinse it well and pat it dry. Cut it into 1-inch chunks after removing the rind. Store cut watermelon in a covered container in the refrigerator for three or four days.

 

The next time you are feeling hungry don’t hesitate to indulge in a big slice of this yummy fruit!

 

References:
Liebman, B. and Hurley, J. (2010). 5 overrated and underrated foods. Nutrition Action Health Letter, May 2010.

National Watermelon Promotion Board. (2010). Nutrition. Retrieved March 28, 2011, from http://www.watermelon.org/watermelon_nutrition.asp

University of Illinois Extension. (2011). Watch your garden grow: Watermelon. Retrieved March 28, 2011, http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/watermelon.cfm

 


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