watermelon

Watermelon Simple Facts, Benefits And Side Effects To Know

Watermelon is a large fruit with a spherical shape.

They are a special type of botanical berry referred to as Pepo.

Its botanical or scientific name is Citrullus lanatus,

they belong to the Citrullus genus and to the Cucurbitaceae family of plants,

all watermelons belong to the same family and genus of plants.

It’s related to

  • fluted pumpkin (ugu),
  • melon (egusi),
  • pumpkin (Ugbogoro),
  • cucumber
  • and golden melon,

they all come from the same Cucurbitaceous family of plants.

Watermelons taste sweet and no need to cook to enjoy them,

fruit salad and juice made from watermelon’s are delicious.

It has the red pigment called Lycopene that gives it the red or pink colour,

this pigment is also found in tomatoes, red grapefruits and guavas.

It’s made of 92% of water and low in calories,

rich in vitamins, minerals

and has various healing properties for which the flesh or pulp, rind, and the seeds serve.

Watermelons are vine-like plant,

they need warm climate to thrive, usually temperature higher than 25oC (77oF).

Watermelons are grown in tropical and subtropical areas for its large edible fruit,

In Nigeria, watermelons grow both in the rainforest regions and in the dry Savannah regions,

both regions support successful growing of watermelon and give good yield.

Learn how to plant watermelon.

History

Over 4000-5000 years ago in the continent of Africa was watermelon found.

Although the exact location in Africa is much debated

and said to have been in the Southern or Northern region of the continent of Africa.

With its origin, assumed to be in the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa.

The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred 5000 years ago in Egypt Northern Africa

and depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphic on walls of their ancient buildings.

Watermelons were often placed in the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife.

Overtime watermelon became naturalized to other continents and

is now cultivated in many counties across the globe.

Today China is the world’s single largest watermelon producer, producing 63,024,614 tons

followed by Iran 4,113,711 tons,

Turkey 4,031,174 tons,

India 2,520,000 tons

and Brazil 2,240,796 tons. (Source: atlasbig.com)

Nutritional Information

Serving size: 1 cup of diced fresh watermelon (152 g) contains:

  • Calories: 43
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 2 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 11 g
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Fibers: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0%
  • Vitamin A: 17%
  • Vitamin C: 21%
  • Iron: 2%
  • Calcium: 1%
  • Sodium: 0%
  • Potassium: 4%
  • Protein: 0.5 g

Watermelons contains

  • Copper,
  • Riboflavin,
  • Niacin,
  • Vitamin B-6,
  • Folate,
  • Manganese,
  • Betaine,
  • Pantothenic Acid,
  • Magnesium,
  • Phosphorus,
  • Zinc,
  • Lycopene,
  • Selenium,
  • Thiamine and
  • Choline.

Varieties

There are lots of watermelon varieties they differ in:

  • Rind Colour: It ranges from pale green to dark green (light green solid, dark green solid, light green dark stripes etc.)
  • Size: It varies from 2kg – 15kg
  • Taste: The taste of the flesh is more or less sweet
  • Shape: Spherical, Oblong Or Elongated
  • Thickness of Rind: Between 0.5mm – 3mm
  • Seeds Status: Seeded Or Seedless
  • Flesh Color: Red, Pink, Orange, Yellow

Some of the common varieties are:

  • Sugar Baby
  • Crimson Sweet
  • Charleston Gray:
  • Orangeglo Golden Midget
  • Jubilee
  • Green Gold
  • Ice Box
  • Kaolak
  • Sweet Beauty
  • Sangria

Parts of the watermelon

parts of watermelon fruit
watermelon fruit label

Rind

This is far more than a scrap to throw in the trash, it’s more versatile than you think and still has a lot of life left in it.

Watermelon rind is the tough outer layer which has a green exterior

which fades to pale white inside before the red or pink flesh of the fruit.

Rind is harder and less juicy,

the rind possesses a large percentage of nutrients but usually it’s discarded.

It encompasses low calories and high content of vitamin A, C and B6, potassium, and zinc.

It’s loaded with citrulline, chlorophyll, amino-acids, lycopene, phenolic compounds and flavonoids.

Rinds when dried become thin and curled, they become irregular or cylindrical.

Southern American marinate, pickle or candied rinds.

White Flesh

The white flesh nearest the rind contains more of the amino acid citrulline than the flesh,

it has a crisp texture like cucumber,

this white part of the fruit between the pink flesh and the rind,

is not only edible but has a good source of nutrients that’s different from those of the red flesh.

It has more fiber and potassium,

it contains significant levels of amino acid citrulline.

Red flesh

The flesh is the part of watermelon we are familiar with.

Colour ranges from a deep red to light pink, orange even yellow which is not quite popular.

It contains 92% of water and is an excellent source of hydration.

And contains a plant chemical called lycopene, high amounts of vitamin A, C and B6, potassium.

Used in a making Juice, smoothie and puree.

Seed

Watermelon seeds are low in calories and are nutrient dense,

they are crispy when roasted and can take the place of some unhealthy snacks.

The amount of nutrient you can get from watermelon seed depends on how many you eat,

because they are small you need to eat a good quantity of it to get their considerable benefits.

Roasted or sprout the seed to eat it, use the oil from the seed to cooking.

How to Select a Good Watermelon

Look the watermelon over for a firm, symmetrical fruit that is free from bruises, cuts or dent.

Look out for the weight:

watermelon is heavier when it is fully ripe, watermelon will feel heavy for its size.

The water content of a watermelon increases as it ripens,

and more ripened watermelons contain 92% of water.

Turn the watermelon over:

The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot

from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.

If this spot is altogether absent,

or if the color is more white than cream colored,

you are likely to be looking at a watermelon picked a little early in the ripening process.

Pre-cut watermelon

If you are purchasing a pre-cut watermelon that’s already sliced into

halves or quarters,

choose the flesh that is deepest in color and lacks any white streaking.

The seeds should also be deep in color, or white.

Health Benefit of Watermelon

Many nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds it owns, makes watermelon beneficial,

these include significant amounts of;

  • Vitamin A,
  • vitamin C,
  • calcium,
  • magnesium,
  • fiber,
  • protein,
  • potassium,
  • vitamin B6,
  • niacin,
  • thiamin,
  • phytonutrients,
  • Citrulline,
  • lycopene.

The following are a few of the health benefits of Watermelon:

Digestion

Watermelon contains fiber & water which encourages a healthy digestive tract.

Fiber provides bulk for stool, while water helps keep the digestive track moving well,

this helps keep you regular and stops constipation.

Good for the Eyes

Lycopene present in watermelon helps keep the eye healthy

and protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD),

this is because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Helps with Hydration

Watermelon is 92% of water, this helps with hydration,

drinking water is a common way to keep the body hydrated.

eating foods with high water content helps.

Watermelon juice is full of good electrolytes which is beneficial to the body.

Promotes a Healthy Heart

High levels of lycopene are very effective at protecting cells from damage

and may help lower the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure,

It helps prevent oxidative damage to cholesterol.

Watermelon contains Citrulline an amino acid that may increase nitric oxide level in the body,

this helps the blood vessel expand, which lowers blood pressure.

Soothes the Skin

Vitamins present in watermelon are important vitamins for the skin.

Vitamin A helps keep the skin moisturized, it helps to create and repair skin cells.

Vitamin C helps encourage healthy growth of collagen.

Muscle Soreness

Drinking watermelon juice before an intense workout helps reduce muscle soreness and heart rate,

Citrulline, an amino acid in watermelon, handles the reduction of muscle soreness.

The fruit juice serves as a recovery beverage after exercise.

Helps with Weight Loss

Watermelon is low in calories and made up of water.

This is beneficial and considered a good fruit to take when trying to lose weight.

Uses of Watermelon

The uses are as follows:

For snacks, juice, smoothie, alcoholic beverage, fruit salad, jam, puree.

Oil from seed used to cook.

The rind serves as vegetable in food.

The rind serves as animal food for goats, sheep etc.

Decompose the rinds or and other watermelon waste to make organic manure

Side Effects

Moderate amount of watermelon presents no serious health risk;

Excessive consumption can increase certain vitamins in the body which may cause complications.

Digestive Problems & Diarrhea

Watermelon helps improve digestive health when taken in moderation,

but taking large quantities may give rise to digestive problems like

diarrhea, bloating, flatulence, indigestion, vomiting.

The caused is having excess of Lycopene found in the fruit,

this symptom is more among older people because of a weak digestive system.

It also contains a sugar compound called Sorbitol which encourages loose stool

and gas issues especially with people who are intolerant to Sorbitol.

Cardiovascular Disorder

Watermelon is rich in potassium, and is good for the cardiovascular system.

Taking the fruit in large quantities would lead to an excess of potassium in the body,

leading to cardiovascular disorders like irregular heartbeat, weak pulse rate, cardiac-arrest etc.

It can also affect the motor control and nervous system of the body.

Increase in Glucose Level

Loading up on too much watermelon may increase blood sugar levels in diabetics,

the fruit is full of natural sugar, it contains High Glycaemic Index (72).

This can cause a spice on the sugar level of the body.

Diabetics should avoid consuming much watermelon.

Overhydrate

Watermelon known for its high water content and how it helps to stay hydrated.

When taken in large quantity, this can increase the level of water in the body,

if the body does not excrete excess water it can lead to an increase in the volume of the blood,

this can cause swelling in the legs, exhaustion, and weak kidneys etc.

It can also lead to loss of sodium level in the body.

Taking the fruit in moderate amounts will ensure a healthy and hydrated you.

Bacteria Carriers

Pre-cut watermelons were recently identified as a possible carrier of salmonella.

So, be cautious while consuming this fruit,

avoid contamination by choosing and handling fruit in the appropriate manner to help prevent food borne illness.

Wash hands and food preparation surfaces before and after preparing the fruit.

Refrigerate pre-cut fruit at 5oC (40oF).

Watermelon facts

It has more lycopene than raw tomato.

The Carolina Cross is the common variety found in Nigeria.

There’s a yellow variety.

They come in over 1200 different varieties.

It is both a fruit and a vegetable.

All parts of a watermelon can is edible, even the rind.

Over 90 percent of a watermelon is water.

Guinness World Records says the world’s heaviest watermelon was grown by Lloyd Bright of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 2005. It weighed 268.8 lbs. (121.93 kg).

China is the top producer of watermelon in the world.

A seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid, created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell.

When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds.

Seedless watermelons developed in 1939 by Japanese scientists who were able to create seedless triploid hybrids which remained rare because they did not have enough disease resistance.

Seedless watermelons became more popular in the 21st century, rising to 85% of total watermelon sales in the United States in 2014

Oklahoma State Senate passed a bill in 2007 declaring watermelon as the official state vegetable.

Farmers of the Zentsuji region of Japan grow cubic watermelons using metal and glass boxes to grow the fruit.

The cubic shape design is to make the melons easier to stack and store,

but the square watermelons are often more than double the price of normal ones.

There are Pyramid-shaped watermelons.

Watermelon is a natural Viagra the fruit is rich in amino acid called Citrulline.

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