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Watermelon, how good is it?

Some people think that watermelon raises blood glucose levels sky high, while other nutritionalists think otherwise.
So we did a bit of research to uncover the real deal with this thirst quenching, juicy, sweet fruit.

 

A normal serving of watermelon actually would not have much effect on blood glucose levels, while watermelon is stated as having a high GI value of 78, the carbohydrate load is very low, about 5% per serving which means that melons (particularly watermelon and cantaloupe) are excellent snack fruits.

So for the technical amongst us, watermelon has a rated GI of 78, however a 200g wedge, without skin, contains just 6g or carbohydrate and therefore the Glycemic Load, GI is 6.

Origins:

Melons originated in the Middle East and gradually spread across Europe. Ancient Egyptians and Romans ate cantaloupe and muskmelons; melons were even placed in the tombs of many Egyptian kings. As water was often in short supply watermelon was a highly regarded fruit.

It is believed that Christopher Columbus took melon seeds to the United States that is now one of the leading commercial growers of the fruit (including China, Turkey and Iran).

Melons are part of the gourd family; both have thick skins and a seeds in the middle and contain a large amount of water. In fact the water content is around 90%, so not only does it provide a rich source of vitamins and minerals, it is a good source of fluid.


Health Benefits:

Watermelon is a wonderful thirst quencher, not just in its solid form, but can also be made into a refreshing iced smoothie. It is thought to also help counter inflammation that leads to asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer and arthritis.

It is packed with antioxidants and an excellent source of potassium, which helps cleanse the kidneys, and obviously as it has a high water content it means that the kidneys are flushed through too. Potassium and water are also known to help lower blood pressure.

Tomatoes contain lycopene and so do watermelons!

Watermelon is a fantastic source of Vitamin C and A and contains a very concentrated source of the carotenoid lycopene. Lycopene has been studied for its antioxidant and cancer preventing properties and the list continues to grow including, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.

Watermelon seeds are also known to be rich in good fats (essential for the brain) and proteins. Watermelon also contains phytonutrients that support proper functioning of the internal organs, eyes, and secretion system and are high in citrulline, an amino acid our bodies use to make another amino acid, arginine that the body uses to remove ammonia. Arginine, in tests has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes patients with insulin resistance.


Energy boost:

Watermelon is rich in B vitamins that help boost energy, in particular B1 and B6, magnesium and as mentioned potassium. The high water content and low calorie count of the fruit means that you get more nutrients per calorie, which can’t be bad.


Some cool ideas for watermelon:

•    Blend chunks of watermelon with a few ice cubes and a splash of limejuice. Serve with some fresh mint leaves. Makes a wonderful thirst quencher
•    Another spritzer idea: blend watermelon with a spoonful of honey and a splash of lemon or lime, then add some sparkling mineral water and a sprig of mint
•    Chunks or slices of watermelon can be served on the side to balance a spicy dish
•    Drink green tea with a slice of chilled watermelon – a great prostrate cancer reducer
•    Purée watermelon, cantaloupe and kiwi, mix with a little yoghurt and mint and serve as a soup or sherbet
•    Roasted watermelon seeds are a great snack, they can be ground up in cereal or in bread
•    Make a summer salad of watermelon and thinly sliced red onion, season with salt and black pepper
•    Add ice cold watermelon to a fruit salad, a little known fact, cut fruit can retain its nutrients for up to 6 days if kept chilled
•    Make a salad of watermelon, cantaloupe melon balls and seedless green and red grapes, toss in a few mint leaves to add a fresh flavour
•    Liquidise and put in the freezer to make a refreshing sorbet.


Selecting and storing watermelon:

The best watermelons have a deep colour and their seeds should be deep in colour.

It is not always possible to purchase cut watermelon; a good whole watermelon is heavy and has a relatively smooth skin, it should be neither overly shiny nor dull. Check that the watermelon has a slightly yellowish cream coloured underbelly that denotes it has been resting on the ground during ripening, fruit without this may have been harvested prematurely and will not be so juicy.

Normally a whole watermelon will not fit easily into a fridge, cut into quarters, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to preserve freshness, taste and juiciness.

So next time you feel the urge for something sweet, reach for a slice of chilled watermelon, it’s a healthy snack with a lot of stored goodness.

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