Watermelon Evolution Explained
Just a few words on watermelon. To your health.
Watermelon is a high-lycopene food. Lycopene is a carotenoid phytonutrient that’s especially important for our cardiovascular health, and an increasing number of scientists now believe that lycopene is important for bone health as well.
Both the juicy pink flesh and the lighter flesh close to the rind is nutrient dense. In a recent study, food scientists compared the nutrient content of flesh from different parts of a watermelon and what they’ve discovered were impressive concentrations of phenolic antioxidants, flavonoids, lycopene, and vitamin C in all different areas.
Recent studies have confirmed the nutritional importance of allowing a watermelon to fully ripen are convincing. For example, research has shown that the biggest jump in lycopene content occurs at the time when a watermelon’s flesh turns from white-pink to pink. Yet when that flesh continues to ripen, resulting in a color change from pink to red, the lycopene content becomes even more concentrated. Prior to ripening, when the flesh of a watermelon is primarily white in color, its beta-carotene content is near zero.
Nutrients in Watermelon
1.00 cup (45 calories) =20.5% vitamin C
17.2% vitamin A
Watermelon is known for its anti-Inflammatory and antioxidant support.
The penolic compounds in watermelon—including flavonoids, carotenoids, and triterpenoids—make this fruit a choice for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits.
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 signaling agents like nuclear factor kappa B (NFkB). Lycopene is also a well-known antioxidant, with the ability to neutralize free radical molecules.
Cucurbitacin E is another unique anti-inflammatory phytonutrient (called a tripterpenoid) found in watermelon. Like the carotenoid lycopene, this anti-inflammatory nutrient has been shown to block activity of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes and neutralize reactive nitrogen-containing molecules. (Interestingly, cucurbitacin E does not appear to neutralize activity of reactive oxygen species—called ROS—but only activity of reactive nitrogen species, called RNS.)
Antioxidant carotenoids found in watermelon include significant amounts of beta-carotene. The beta-carotene in watermelon increases with ripening.The yellow-fleshed varieties were found to contain only 5-10 micrograms of beta-carotene and no measurable amount of lycopene.
Surprisingly, the amount of vitamin C in watermelon is high. My mother used to pickle with rind of watermelon. It has also been know to be a powerful anti-diuretic when the rind is boiled as a tea. My favorite way to consume watermelon is to blend the flesh with the seeds. The seeds are heating and contain zinc and iron while the flesh is cooling making it, yet again, another perfectly balanced whole food. What other ways do you enjoy watermelon?
I have recently tried it sliced and topped with macadamia nut feta and basil leaves.
It is indeed the end of the season. I hope that you have received your fill of this magical food.