Wild about Watermelons!
A wedge of watermelon evokes all the joys of summer. Perhaps that’s why Americans eat more watermelon by weight than any other melon. The thirst-quenching qualities, crisp and juicy texture, and sweet, refreshing flavor make watermelon a simply perfect fruit to enjoy throughout the day. Its sweet, unmistakable flavor most resembles cucumber, a cousin from the same family. Watermelon is very low in calories and nearly fat- and sodium free. In fact, one cup of watermelon has less than 50 calories and about 20% of your daily recommendation for vitamins A and C.
The brilliant red interior not only suggests a sweet melon, but it’s also an indicator of the level of lycopene, a naturally-occurring compound that potentially helps to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. A potent antioxidant, lycopene neutralizes free radicals and attacks artery-clogging cholesterol. A vibrant-red watermelon will have more lycopene than a pink-fleshed one, so to maximize your intake, purchase pre-cut, bright-red melons. Other great sources of lycopene include pink grapefruit, red bell peppers and mangoes.
The sweetness of watermelon pairs wonderfully with sharp cheeses. Enjoy a wedge with feta cheese, ricotta salata, sharp cheddar or Swiss. Add watermelon to savory summer salads along with cucumber, tomatoes and greens such as watercress, baby arugula and spinach. Top off your salad with fresh herbs such as mint, basil and chives then sprinkle with walnuts, almonds or pistachios.
Watermelon flavor deteriorates after long refrigeration, and the flesh disintegrates quickly after removing it from the rind. Therefore, it helps to purchase pre-cut watermelon or a personal-sized mini watermelon which weighs, on average, about five pounds.