Health benefits of watermelon

BY: Isaac Yeboah

While many people are just accustomed to eating the juicy flesh of the watermelon, both the seeds and the rind are also edible and nutrient-rich.Phenolic compounds in watermelon—including flavonoids, carotenoids, and triterpenoids— make watermelon a choice for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits.

If you had to pick a single nutrient from this anti-inflammatory and antioxidant category that has put watermelon on the map, that nutrient would be lycopene.

Alongside of pink grapefruit and guava, watermelon is an unusually concentrated source of this carotenoid.

Whereas most fruits get their reddish colour from anthocyanin flavonoids, watermelon gets its reddish-pink shades primarily from lycopene.

The lycopene content of watermelons increases with ripening, so to get the best lycopene benefits from watermelon, make sure that your melon is optimally ripe.

The lycopene in watermelon is a well-documented inhibitor of many inflammatory processes, including the production of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules, the expression of enzymes like cyclo-oxygenase and lipoxygenase that can lead to increased inflammatory response, and the activity of molecular signalling agents like nuclear factor kappa B (NFkB).

Lycopene is also a well-known antioxidant, with the ability to neutralise free radical molecules.

If you specifically want to maximise your lycopene and beta-carotene intake, you'll most likely want to stick with red/pink-fleshed varieties of watermelon.

It would be a mistake to ignore the important amount of vitamin C found in watermelon. Watermelon qualifies as an excellent source of vitamin C, even though the amount provided (about 12 milligrams per cup of fresh melon) is only 20 per cent of the daily value (DV).

Tips for preparing watermelon

Wash the watermelon before cutting it. Due to its large size, you will probably not be able to run it under water in the sink. Instead, wash it with a wet cloth or paper towel.

Depending upon the size that you desire, there are many ways to cut a watermelon. The flesh can be sliced, cubed, or scooped into balls.

Watermelon is delicious to eat as it is, while it also makes a delightful addition to a fruit salad.

Watermelon seeds and rind are edible

While many people are just accustomed to eating the juicy flesh of the watermelon, both the seeds and the rind are also edible and nutrient-rich. (In fact, in many parts of the world, watermelon seeds are widely enjoyed as a snack, and pickled watermelon rind has a rich culinary tradition.)

If you choose to eat the rind, we recommend purchase of certified organic watermelon. (The reason for this suggestion is an increased risk of unwanted contaminants like pesticide residues on the outer skin of non-organic watermelon.)

Did you know the ancient Egyptians believed that eating lemons and drinking lemon juice was an effective protection against a variety of poisons, and that recent research has confirmed this belief?

There are many health benefits of lemons that have been known for centuries. The two biggest are lemons’ strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers and their use as a weight loss aid because lemon juice is a digestive aid and liver cleanser. Lemons contain many substances--notably citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene.

These are well-known health facts about lemons. But there’s so much more to this little yellow fruit. Here are 15 that I’ll bet you didn’t know.

Whether you use them in the form of juice, teas, drinks, dressing, poultices or in the bath, take advantage of lemons’ natural healing power.

By Barbara Sai Djangmah
The Mirror/Ghana
The writer is a Lifestyle Coach & Author of ‘The Seduction of Food’
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