News and views on the latest health issues

Articles


Articles

Wild about watermelon!

Tags: fruit

Wild about watermelonIt regularly features in the health news headlines, it has a national day dedicated to it and it even has its own queen in North America. So what’s so special about the watermelon?

While the ‘superfoods’ A-list changes from day to day, the watermelon may have more claim than most to be hailed as a food celebrity. It’s sweet and juicy, low in calories, quick and easy to prepare, and packed with essential nutrients.

“Nutritionally, watermelons are fat free, whilst giving you a healthy dose of vitamins A and C, as well as fibre,” says dietitian Azmina Govindji.
“Red fruits like tomatoes and watermelon also provide you with a powerful antioxidant called lycopene,” adds Azmina. Some studies have suggested that lycopene may protect against heart disease, certain types of cancer and skin damage from ultraviolet rays.

And scientists are regularly discovering more health benefits from eating watermelon – the latest being its potential for treating (or possibly even preventing) erectile dysfunction thanks to the fruit’s high levels of an organic compound called citrulline. "We've always known that watermelon is good for you, but the list of its very important health benefits grows longer with each study,” says Dr Bhimu Patel of Texas A&M University, who led the research.

America's queen of fruit

The USA is one of the world’s largest producers of watermelons and celebrates the fruit each year on National Watermelon Day on 3rd August. In recognition of its economic and nutritional importance, a National Watermelon Queen is elected annually to travel around North America promoting the fruit.

While watermelons are imported into the UK all year round, they’re at their best in summer, so now is the perfect time to try new ways of serving it – and discover why watermelon is flavour of the month with nutritionists, scientists and weight-watchers alike! 

Wild about watermelon!

It regularly features in the health news headlines, it has a national day dedicated to it and it even has its own queen in North America. So what’s so special about the watermelon?

While the ‘superfoods’ A-list changes from day to day, the watermelon may have more claim than most to be hailed as a food celebrity. It’s sweet and juicy, low in calories, quick and easy to prepare, and packed with essential nutrients. “Nutritionally, watermelons are fat free, whilst giving you a healthy dose of vitamins A and C, as well as fibre,” says dietitian Azmina Govindji.

“Red fruits like tomatoes and watermelon also provide you with a powerful antioxidant called lycopene,” adds Azmina. Some studies have suggested that lycopene may protect against heart disease, certain types of cancer and skin damage from ultraviolet rays.

Also, scientists are regularly discovering more health benefits from eating watermelon – the latest being its potential for treating (or possibly even preventing) erectile dysfunction thanks to the fruit’s high levels of an organic compound called citrulline. "We've always known that watermelon is good for you, but the list of its very important health benefits grows longer with each study,” says Dr Bhimu Patel of Texas A&M University, who led the research. 

Selecting and deseeding a watermelon

When selecting a watermelon, look for a firm, evenly shaped fruit that’s free from dents, bruises or cuts. The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun, explains the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Watermelon is 92 per cent water, and the fruit should feel heavy for its size.

While seedless varieties of watermelon are widely available, deseeding is quick and easy:

  • Wash the watermelon, then cut it into quarters
  • Cut each quarter into three or four wedges
  • Cut lengthwise along the seed line with a paring knife, and lift off the piece
  •  Using a fork, scrape seeds both from the removed piece and the remaining flesh on the rind.

Once a watermelon is cut, the pieces should be wrapped in cling-film and refrigerated, and consumed within three days.

Summer serving tips

Azmina suggests some quick and easy ways to enjoy watermelon this summer:

  • Quench your thirst with a slice of watermelon – it will give you one of your 5-A-Day
  • Conjure up a refreshing salad with chunks of watermelon, diced red onion, a dash of balsamic vinegar and some honey. No need for an oily dressing
  • For breakfast, try mixing chunks of watermelon with some dried fruit, chopped nuts, sliced banana and lower-fat Greek yoghurt
  • Make healthier, fruity ice lollies for kids by cutting watermelon into finger-length chunks and freezing.

 

back to top


Sign up to our monthly Better Health newsletter to receive updates on our latest health and wellbeing updates.


Sign up to newsletter

Ask the expert

Got a question?
Our team of medical experts are ready to help.