Friday, May 30, 2014

#Watermelon




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Watermelon nutrition facts

Want to quench thirst and re-boost your body with anti-oxidant lycopene and vitamin-A? Watermelon has everything you need to beat the scorching summer heat. Wonderfully delicious, thirst-quenching melons are the great source of much-needed water and electrolytes to beat the tropical summer temperatures.

Botanically, the fruit belongs to the family of Cucurbitaceae of the genus: citrullus, and is related to the other plants such as cantaloupe, squash, and pumpkin that grow as vines on the ground. It is widely grown across many tropical countries where it is one of the major commercial crops.

Botanical name: Citrullus lanatus.

Watermelon was originated from southern African countries and from where it spread to all over the tropical and subtropical regions. The plant bears many yellow colored flowers that may require honeybees for pollination.

Externally, the fruit features smooth, deep green or yellow color thick exterior rind with light-green or gray colored vertical stripes all over its outer surface. Internally, the flesh is juicy, pink, red, or yellow with numerous small black seeds embedded in the middle third of the flesh.

Watermelon has a neutral flavor, and tastes somewhat plain-sweet like light sugar syrup.

Varieties of watermelon-fruits are cultivated world over, featuring variation in their size, shape, and color of the flesh (red, orange, and yellow).

#Health #benefits of watermelon

Rich in electrolytes and water content, melons are nature’s gift to beat tropical summer thirst.

Watermelons are very low in calories (just 30 calories per 100 g) and fats yet very rich source of numerous health promoting phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants that are essential for optimum health.

Watermelon is an excellent source of Vitamin-A, which is a powerful natural anti-oxidant. 100 g fresh fruit provides 569 mg or 19% of daily-required levels of this vitamin. It is essential for vision and immunity. Vitamin-A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin-A is known to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

It is also rich in anti-oxidant flavonoids like lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidants are found to offer protection against colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers. Phyto-chemicals present in watermelon like lycopene and carotenoids have the ability to help protect cells and other structures in the body from oxygen-free radicals.

Watermelon is an excellent source of carotenoid pigment, lycopene and indeed, superior to raw red tomato. 100 g of fresh melon provides 4532 µg lycopene, whereas only 2573 µg in tomatoes. Studies suggest that lycopene offer certain protection to skin from harmful UV rays.

Watermelon fruit is a good source of potassium; Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure; It thus offers protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases.

Furthermore, it contains a good amount of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), vitamin-C, and manganese. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.

Total measured antioxidant strength (ORAC value) of watermelon is 142 µmol TE/100 g.

Selection and storage

Although watermelons can be grown in all the seasons under tropical environments; they are at their best during summer months. In the stores, try to buy organically grown melons since they are richer in taste and nutrients.

Oftentimes, it is difficult to judge the ripeness and taste without checking the wedge section of the melon. Look for one that is heavy for its size featuring rind that is relatively smooth, neither overly shiny nor overly dull, without any cuts or bruises on its surface, which might have occurred during transportation.

Once at home, place the fruit in cool, well-ventilated place. The cut sections, however, should be kept inside the refrigerator.