Natural Food Spotlight: Watermelon
Posted on Monday, June 24th, 2013 at 10:00 am
Summer has officially begun! Moms are always looking for a healthy treat to feed those hungry kids who are finally out of school. Cold, juicy, and freshly cut watermelon is a perfect option. There is something extremely gratifying about eating a slice of colorful, refreshing, sweet, and crunchy fruit on a hot summer day. Watermelon is a fruit packed full of nutrition and should be a front runner on the healthy snack list for the summer months of 2013!
Watermelon is a food very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. One of the main health benefits of the tasty fruit is the fact that it contains about 12% fiber. Fiber works as a weight loss aid, and can also help lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Watermelon is a great source of potassium and many vitamins including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6. Because this fruit is loaded with all of these nutrients, one to three slices can strengthen immunity, improve brain function, and stabilize moods. By eating about two cups of watermelon, you are giving yourself a needed dose of potassium. Potassium is a vital part of water balance in the body and can help alleviate muscle cramps. The “meat” of watermelons is usually bright pink or red. Those colors indicate the highest content of lycopene, which is an antioxidant recently becoming known for its ability to significantly minimize cancer risks.
Watermelons taste the best May through September. Florida leads the way for watermelon production, followed by California, Georgia, and Texas. An added benefit when buying watermelon is that it’s included on the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean 15” list, so you don’t necessarily have to purchase it in organic varieties if you cannot afford to. In many ways, a watermelon is like a birthday gift. You can be pretty sure you’re going to like what is inside, but never positive until you open it up. Choosing a watermelon can be tricky. Many people swear by the “thumping” method (if thumping the melon makes a hollow sound, then it should be tasty), but this method is proven to be unreliable.When shopping for watermelons, look for those that are firm and unblemished. When you pick a watermelon up, it should be pretty heavy because of its water content. Look for a yellow patch, showing where the watermelon sat on the ground while ripening.
Besides serving watermelon in simple slices, chunks, or melon balls cooking with watermelon is always a pleasure throughout the summer. Watermelon is naturally sweet and is 92% water. The water that is found in watermelon can help keep your body hydrated during the hot days of summer, which is important! Many delicious treats can be made from its nutrient-filled sweet juices including kid-friendly popsicles and smoothies, as well as creative alcoholic drinks for mom and dad. Watermelon is always a delightful addition to a summer dessert, salad, relish, or salsa. Don’t forget about this inexpensive, mouth-watering and most importantly healthy fruit as the summer days get hotter!