As a young child, the only time we had watermelon was in the summer when dinner was prepared on the charcoal barbecue. My brothers and I would have watermelon pit-spitting contests to see which of us could spit the pits the farthest. We would never swallow a pit because we were told, “If you swallow a pit, a watermelon will grow in your belly.”

The reality is watermelon pits are full of nutrients, and watermelon is a super food that is considered a fruit, but also known as a vegetable. Watermelon can be traced back to Africa and is part of the cucumber and squash family. They should be enjoyed on a regular basis, not just special occasions. Watermelons will keep you hydrated on a hot summer day because they contain about 6% sugar, 91% water. They are also low in sodium and a good source of potassium.

Similar to other fruits, watermelon is a good source of vitamin C. Although it is not a sunscreen, Vitamin C limits the damage induced by ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, and helps to protect your skin against damaging UV rays from the summer sun.

Watermelon rinds are also edible, but most people avoid eating them due to their unappealing flavor. The seeds, when roasted, are considered an appetizer and contain minerals such as phosphorous, iron, potassium, sodium, copper, manganese and zinc. One cup of watermelon seeds contains 51g of fat that includes 11g of saturated fats. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and raise blood cholesterol. The seeds also include monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and omega-6 fatty acids, which the American Heart Association reports can reduce high blood pressure and reduce blood cholesterol. But be careful if you are watching your weight; one cup of watermelon seeds has just over 600 calories, as opposed to one cup of the red sweet flesh that is about 40 calories a cup.

The red flesh of the watermelon contains high concentrations of lycopene, an anti-oxidant that may help reduce the risks of cancer and other diseases. Lycopene is especially important for our cardiovascular health, and an increasing number of scientists now believe that lycopene is important for bone health as well. The lycopene becomes more concentrated in a ripe watermelon.

Aside from just eating watermelons there are other ways to enjoy them, you can make this delicious soup that I make during the summer:

In short, watermelon will…

  • · Keep you hydrated
  • · Give you a sweet, refreshing option to eat that is low in calories and high in   nutrients.
  • · Help protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays.
  • · Provide protection from various diseases.
  • · Allow you to have fun in a pit-spitting contest.

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