The vibrant, pinky-red hues against the pale green and white skin, bejewelled with edgy, black seeds is, in my opinion, the best-looking fruit around and if there was an award for best dressed/best colour scheme; it would win hands down. Aside from looks, the delicious and unique texture, thirst-quenching like no other, bursting with flavour, and sweet smelling juice holds some of the most precious qualities, making this guy one of the most wonderful in the world.
Watermelon is originally from Southern Africa and grows on rambling vines similar to it’s other cucurbiteae cousins – the squash, cucumber, courgette, and pumpkin family – all fat and seedy yet all of which hold the key to gorgeous skin; from collagen support and skin renewal to repair and UV protection due to it’s abundance of the vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as lycopene.
Lycopene is most commonly associated with tomatoes where it has a significantly high concentration but it is only released when cooked, making it harder to access for research purposes compared with watermelon which provides plenty in its raw form.
The University of North Carolina recently discovered some groundbreaking results from the research of Perkins-Veazie, who has been studying the properties of watermelon for 15 years.
“The lycopene was killing the cancer cells…” Perkins-Veazie recalled. “They’re a good scavenger for things that are bad for you, so if you are exposed to certain toxins in your diet or in your job, they’re really good as radical scavengers to go and attach to them.”
Continuing Perkins-Veazies’ studies on lycopene, the more she looked into it, the more she began discovering other uses for the fruit with such high concentrations, such as it’s potential use as a sunscreen.
“What we found is that it’s also extremely effective at protecting DNA, so when you have too much UV light, the lycopene will block it and protect your DNA from being affected….A 20 percent watermelon cream comes out having an SPF of about 32,” which suggests that we are not far off seeing it as a commonly listed component in cosmetics such as makeup, moisturisers, and sun creams, yes please!
Lycopene is at its richest concentration when the flesh turns from white to pink and as it continues to ripen. This is the same for beta-carotene which continues to increase until the flesh is red so sit back and wait for that baby to blossom; it’s so important to wait for all fruit to ripen fully to maximise on their full range of benefits.
Talking of pink and babies, watermelon has recently been coined by Italian scientists as ‘nature’s viagra’ with studies showing that it contains properties which may help men to keep their bananas firm in the bedroom. The amino acid, L-citrulline, found in high concentrations of watermelon, namely watermelon juice, made from the flesh which contains approximately 250 miligrams per cup. Upon absorption, citruline is converted by our kidneys into L-arginine, another amino acid and higher levels of arginine improves cardiovascular health and blood flow to all areas (oi oi!) this also lowers blood pressure and reduces any chance of heart disease – literally spreading the warm, pink love.
Further studies show that greater conversion of citrulline into arginine may help control weight by preventing excess accumulation of fat in fat cells. In addition, the fiber content slows digestion, meaning that you will stay fuller for longer in between meals and the mix of soluble and insoluble fiber benefits the heart and digestive systems respectively. This may help to control any cravings or urges to eat foods which are harmful yet unfortunately, quite often, more available and accessible (such as vending machine food). Another way watermelons help to prolong satisfaction is down to their water content; they’re 95% water! and water from food takes longer to leave your stomach than a glass of water would. This constituency, along with high potassium levels essential for water balance, maintain overall hydration and laugh in the face of any leering hangovers.
Vitamin B6 and Paleo diet
Especially useful for Paleo eaters who consume meat as a central part of their diet, is the knowledge that the more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need for the body to break down proteins. This is not normally an issue on a varied Paleo diet as there are rich sources everywhere, including meat itself but also in vegetables, seeds, nuts, bananas, avocados and yes, you guessed it, watermelon.
How to choose a goodun?
They’re normally massive so it’s a great little workout to pick them all up and check their bottoms for their yellow spots. They may be blushing as you do this. If they have a creamy yellow spot they are good to go; white or green and they aren’t ripe yet. This yellow spot is where they sat on their bums soaking up all the sun to reach their optimum state. They should also feel heavy for their size and any which feel waxy are immature and if they have a rubbery feel they are most likely too far gone.
- Borelli, L. (2014). Watermelon Juice, ‘Nature’s Viagra,’ May Act As A Natural Erectile Dysfunction Treatment. In Medical Daily. Retrieved from: http://www.medicaldaily.com/watermelon-juice-natures-viagra-may-act-natural-erectile-dysfunction-treatment-279498. [Accessed 24th June, 2015].
- Thornton, L. (2015). Watermelon may hold secrets for a healthy future. In Charlotte Observer. Retrieved from: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/science-technology/article25406662.html . [Accessed 28th June, 2015].
- (N.D). What’s New And Benefical About Watermelon? in The World’s Healthiest Foods. Retrieved from: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=31. [Accessed 20 June, 2015]. .
- (N.D). Health 101 in The National Watermelon Promotion Board. Retrieved from http://www.watermelon.org/Nutrition/Health-101. [Accessed 20 June, 2015]. .