A Healthy You: It’s watermelon time
Nothings says summer like watermelon. Watermelons were first referenced in hieroglyphics in Egyptian times 5000 years ago. Watermelons were often placed in burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife. There are more than 1,200 varieties of watermelons, but most fall into four general categories of Allsweet, Ice-Box, Seedless and Yellow Flesh.
Watermelons are very healthy for us. The lycopene content of watermelon is comparable to what is found in a raw tomato. Lycopene may help prevent prostate cancer and heart disease. Watermelons are also a good source of beta-carotene. The high water content of watermelon means it is very low in calories. One cup of watermelon has 45 calories.
When choosing a watermelon, look for a firm watermelon that is free of bruises and dents. Look for a yellow spot on the bottom which means it has been vine ripened. If watermelon is totally green, it may mean that it was picked too soon. Tap them with your knuckles, they should not sound hollow. Cover the cut surface of a melon with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Whole melons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature. Never store uncut melon in refrigerator since cold air and dark conditions will increase the ripening process and the melon will go bad quickly.
Every part of the watermelon is edible including the seeds and rind. The seeds can be salted and baked and eaten as snacks. For the rind, cut off the green outer part, and the rind can be pickled or eaten raw. Salt can bring out the sweet taste of watermelon, though salt is not necessary to enjoy it.
A Healthy You is a regular column about nutrition, healthy living and cancer care. It is written by Cindy Gates, RD and LD and the Cancer Center’s Oncology dietitian, herbalist and Certified Wellness Coach.