If you’ve been avoiding watermelon because you think it provides just sugar and water, think again! I’m here to shed some light on just how good this summertime fruit is for you.
Watermelon contains a wide variety of nutritional benefits for minimal calories. For just 80 calories, two cups of diced watermelon provide 25% and 30% the Daily Values for vitamins C and A, respectively, as well as potassium, vitamins B6 and B1, fiber and magnesium.
This sweet fruit is also considered the “lycopene leader” among fresh produce. Lycopene is an antioxidant which gives fruits and vegetables like red grapefruit and tomatoes their red color. This particular antioxidant is being studied for its ability to protect the skin from harmful UV-rays and reduce risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
Another benefit of watermelon comes straight from its name – its water content. With one cup providing 92% water, enjoying watermelon is an excellent way to stay hydrated. Besides snacking on slices or cubes, you can also easily make your own watermelon juice. Simply slice a chilled melon into 2-inch slices, place in a blender and process until smooth. Press mixture through a fine sieve, strain and discard seeds and pulp. Pour juice into a pitcher, chill and serve cold.
How to Select Watermelon
When selecting watermelon, look for one that seems heavy for its size and is firm, symmetrical and free of bruises, cuts or dents. Also turn the melon over – the underside should have a creamy yellow spot underneath from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.
When ready to prepare, don’t forget to rinse the outside rind with cool running water before cutting into your watermelon. This is because the knife transfers any germs or bacteria that may be on the outside into the melon. And now you’re ready to enjoy the #1 budget-friendly fruit, with an average serving cost of only $0.14. Enjoy as is, grill as a sweet and smoky dessert or mix with feta in the salad recipe below.
Mediterranean Watermelon Salad
- 6 cups mixed salad greens, torn
- 3 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
- ½ cup onion, sliced
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- cracked black pepper, to taste
In large bowl, mix all ingredients except oil and pepper. Just before serving, toss salad mixture with oil and garnish with pepper.
Recipe courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board
Andrea Samson, RD, LDN
Big Y Foods