Watermelon helps detoxify and purify the body, has a high satiating power and helps replenish the minerals lost in the heat. Let’s discover the properties of the summer fruit par excellence.
Watermelon or watermelon is a fruit with a round or oval shape and is very voluminous and heavy, weighing up to 20-25 kg. There are about 50 species of watermelon. The latest addition to the market is the baby watermelon, a type of small size, which we will see in more detail shortly.
The watermelon plant belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, the same as cucumbers, courgettes, squash and melon. It is an annual herbaceous plant that can produce as many as 100 watermelons per specimen. Watermelon ripens from June to September, so it is a typically summer fruit. It has many therapeutic properties, as we will see together later.
Varieties of watermelon: characteristics of the most common
Watermelon is a very popular fruit with excellent nutritional characteristics. There is no shortage, in addition to the classic version known by all, varieties with unusual and curious features. Let’s see what it is and what are the main varieties of watermelon.
✓ Classic red watermelon
This is the most widespread and well-known variety of watermelon. Imposing and tasty, this type has an unmistakable streaked skin that contains a red and sweet pulp, very rich in water, vitamins and minerals. There is no shortage of bioactive components, among which the carotenoid lycopene stands out.
✓ Yellow watermelon
Known as Japanese watermelon or “coco-pineapple”, this particular version of watermelon has its origins in Japan and represents a natural botanical graft. Its pulp has a crunchy texture and a delicate flavor, and is rich in vitamin A and carotenoids, to which it owes its yellow color. Compared to the red variety, the yellow watermelon is smaller in size and has a thinner outer shell.
✓ Densuke black watermelon
Grown on the island of Hokkaido, this variety also has Japanese origins. It is a relatively small, spherical fruit with a glossy black casing. Like the traditional watermelon, this variety also contains a bright red flesh, although it contains fewer seeds and has a sweeter flavor. Similar to the Densuke black watermelon, in appearance and for the low content of seeds, there is the Perla Nera watermelon, cultivated in different Italian regions and with an equally sweet taste.
✓ White watermelon
Ranking among the most interesting varieties, the white watermelon (or “lemon watermelon” or “lemon gourd”) is a rare and undoubtedly particular fruit . Its skin is reminiscent of red watermelon for its compactness and the typical streaks on a green base. The pulp of this watermelon is whitish and contains seeds similar to those of the pumpkin; its flavor is sweetish, although delicate, while its texture is crunchy.
✓ Sugar Baby Watermelon
Round and full of seeds, Sugar Baby (also known simply as “Baby Watermelon” or “Baby Watermelon”) is a small size American watermelon. Its weight remains under 4 kg, boasting a certain ease of transport. The pulp of this fruit is decidedly sugary, and is surrounded by a dark and thin shell. Its very pleasant flavor makes it a very popular and consumed variety of watermelon, even in the seedless version.
✓ Watermelon Moon and Stars
Quite stout and oblong, this typology has a more descriptive name than ever: its green skin, in fact, is covered with small yellow spots (the “stars”), between which a larger patch (the “moon”). The pulp of this fruit can vary in color, resulting in red or yellow. Its texture is juicy, while its aroma is sweet and marked.
✓ Orangeglo watermelon
Born in Texas from crosses between different varieties, this oval and striped watermelon has a unique orange pulp, whose aroma is reminiscent of that of melon. Its dimensions are quite important.
✓ Square watermelon
Born from oriental ingenuity, the square watermelon does not actually represent a variety in its own right. It is, in fact, a classic watermelon, whose growth phase takes place inside transparent and cubic “boxes”: once grown, the fruit will take on the shape of the container. Due to this process, watermelons do not ripen and do not taste good. It is, in fact, a mostly ornamental production.
Watermelon: calories and nutritional values
After having seen different types of watermelon, let’s now see the nutritional properties that characterize this fruit. Watermelon is a fruit rich in water, which accounts for about 91%, and has a high satiating power. Its caloric content is very low : 100 grams of watermelon provide only 30 calories. These characteristics make it a valuable ally of the diet. Furthermore, the watermelon, although it is a rather sweet fruit, has a moderate sugar content (about 4%) and lower than other fruits.
Watermelon is therefore a thirst-quenching fruit, perfect for summer, and contains different types of vitamins and minerals, so it is excellent for recovering the substances lost with sweating and in case of exhaustion due to the summer heat. It also has several types of antioxidants such as lycopene, to which it owes its red color. Almost nil, however, the intake of fat. For greater clarity, we report below the table of nutritional values of watermelon.
Nutritional values per 100g of watermelon:
- Waterfall: 91.47 gr
- kcal: 30
- Carbohydrates: 3.7 gr
- Proteins: 0.61 g
- Fat: 0.15 g
- Fibers: 0.4 g
- Soccer: 7 mg
- Magnesium: 10 mg
- Phosphorus: 11 mg
- Potassium: 112 mg
- C vitamin: 8.1 mg (13.5% RDA)
- Vitamin B1: 0.033 mg (2.4% RDA)
- Vitamin B2: 0.021 mg (1.3% RDA)
- Vitamin B3: 0.178 mg (1% RDA)
- Vitamin B5: 0.221 mg (3.7% RDA)
- Vitamin B6: 0.045 mg (2.3% RDA)
- Folate: 3 µg (1.5% RDA)
- Vitamin A: 28 µg (3.5% RDA)
- Beta-carotene: 3.3 µg
- Lycopene: 4532 µg
- Glycemic index: 75
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Watermelon: nutritional properties
Watermelon is a source of minerals, in particular potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, and vitamins, especially Vitamin C. This fruit is rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, precursor of Vitamin A, and lycopene, typical of tomatoes and some red vegetables. Watermelon is also rich in a particular amino acid, citrulline. Let’s see these substances in detail.
- Potassium: watermelon is a good source of potassium, a mineral that has the property of lowering blood pressure, as it promotes the elimination of excess fluids, counteracting water retention, and regulates the heartbeat;
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus, contained in good quantities in the watermelon, performs various important functions in the body. It regulates the pH, is part of the mineral fraction of bones and teeth, is a constituent of proteins and enzymes, participates in the activation of some vitamins and in cell repair processes;
- Magnesium: in the watermelon we also find a fair amount of this mineral, which transmits nerve impulses, regulates the rhythm of the heart and muscle contractility;
- Vitamin C: watermelon is a good source of Vitamin C, a powerful natural antioxidant able to counteract the action of free radicals and prevent cellular aging. It also stimulates the immune system and collagen production;
- Beta-carotene: it is a pigment with an antioxidant action that gives the typical yellow-orange color to vegetables. It represents the precursor of Vitamin A which performs numerous functions in our body as it is essential for cell growth and differentiation, intervening in embryonic development, protects the visual function, is essential for bone growth and keeps the skin healthy;
- Lycopene: Watermelon is a natural source of lycopene, a carotenoid responsible for the red coloring of vegetables such as tomatoes, watermelon and red fruits. It has a strong antioxidant activity, which makes it effective in the prevention of tumors and in the fight against aging. It also has an anti-inflammatory action, inhibits the formation of atherosclerotic plaques and protects the eyes from degeneration that occurs with advancing age;
- Citrulline: it is an amino acid contained in watermelon and which gives it some of its properties. Citrulline prevents hypertension and protects the cardiovascular system as it is able to balance pressure and keep arterial walls elastic. This amino acid is also used for erectile dysfunction, as it would be able to achieve and maintain an erection ensuring the necessary concentration of nitric oxide.
Watermelon: health benefits
Thanks to the substances present in it, watermelon has numerous beneficial properties for the body. In short, watermelon is good for the heart as it helps reduce pressure, promotes the elimination of excess fluids, is antioxidant and remineralizing, but not only. Let’s see the main beneficial virtues of this fruit.
✓ Fights hypertension and helps reduce cholesterol
Watermelon is good for the cardiovascular system as it helps lower blood pressure. This property is due to the presence of 2 substances that both help to balance the pressure: potassium and citrulline, an amino acid that improves the levels of nitric oxide in the body, a molecule that favors the dilation of blood vessel walls. Furthermore, watermelon is low in sodium. Added to this is the presence of lycopene, which gives watermelon the ability to lower cholesterol and prevent damage caused by oxidative stress.
✓ Contrasts cellulite
Watermelon is a fruit rich in water and highly diuretic, so it counteracts water retention by promoting the elimination of excess fluids. This is naturally beneficial for the circulatory system, reducing the formation of the much hated cellulite.
✓ It is remineralizing
Watermelon is a source of important minerals and vitamins, which must be replenished especially in summer due to the increase in sweating due to excessive heat. A nice slice of watermelon will refresh you and make you recover from exhaustion.
✓ Prevents cystitis
Being a highly diuretic fruit, watermelon helps detoxify the kidneys and bladder by counteracting the growth of bacteria, thereby helping to prevent cystitis.
✓ It is antioxidant
Watermelon contains substances with a strong antioxidant action, which prevent tumors as they counteract the action of free radicals responsible for cellular aging. These include Vitamin C, lycopene and beta-carotene.
✓ Counteracts erectile dysfunction, promoting fertility
The citrulline amino acid present in watermelon, converted in the body into arginine, is able to maintain the right concentrations of nitric oxide allowing to achieve but also to maintain an erection. It follows a beneficial effect for those suffering from erectile dysfunction.
✓ Combats fatigue
Regular consumption of watermelon in summer counteracts tiredness and weakness thanks to the good quantity of mineral salts. Furthermore, watermelon is also a source of L-citrulline, a non-essential amino acid useful in muscle recovery after a workout.
✓ Promotes weight loss
The high water content of watermelon gives a high sense of satiety. This feature together with the low calories of watermelon, make it an ideal ally for those who are following a low-calorie diet or for those who want to keep themselves light.
✓ Maintains the well-being of the skin
Thanks to the beta-carotene content, the consumption of watermelon delays skin aging and keeps it elastic. Vitamin C, on the other hand, ensures the production of collagen essential for healthy skin.
✓ It is aphrodisiac
The citrulline contained in watermelon is an amino acid that promotes vasodilation thus stimulating sexual desire.
✓ Has anti-inflammatory properties
This property of watermelon occurs thanks to lycopene, an antioxidant with an anti-inflammatory action that prevents the onset of tumors and promotes heart and bone health.
How much watermelon to eat
A portion of watermelon that can offer all the benefits seen above without weighing down or affecting the line is about 200 grams (the weight refers to the edible part, so the outer skin is not considered). When it is in season, in the summer, we can also consume two portions a day of watermelon, possibly away from the main meals in order not to weigh down the digestion.
How to choose a watermelon at the right point of ripeness?
When buying sliced watermelon, prefer the vivid red fruits. Any small cracks in the internal pulp may indicate the presence of a particularly sweet and sugary fruit. Avoid, however, the purchase of fruits with particularly dark and soft pulp, it means that the watermelon is too ripe.
When you buy the whole watermelon, to verify the correct point of ripeness it is necessary to check the peel: it must be smooth, hard and bright green with some yellowish shades, moreover, by hitting it lightly with the knuckles of the hand, the sound must be dull.
Watermelon: tips for eating it
The best way to consume watermelon is definitely to enjoy it fresh for breakfast, or as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. With watermelon we can also prepare a fresh and refreshing juice. To do this we can use an extractor or a blender. In any case, to make watermelon juice it is necessary to remove the outer skin, cut the watermelon into small pieces and place it in the appliance. If we prefer, we can remove all the seeds or only the most external and visible ones (however, this is not a necessary step, especially if we use the extractor). At this point we operate the blender or the extractor and we have obtained the watermelon juice. If we want to experiment with tasty preparations, we can add other summer foods, such as carrots, peaches or melon. Watermelon also goes well with lime and fresh mint.
We can also consume watermelon seeds which have a laxative action as they are rich in fiber but also in proteins, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. However, we must not exceed it because an excessive amount could lead to abdominal pain.
The watermelon is also an ally for beauty. Homemade watermelon-based masks can be prepared to regenerate tired skin by combining watermelon pulp, milk and lemon juice. To defeat dark circles you can instead put two slices of fresh watermelon on closed eyes and keep them in place for at least 15 minutes. The effects are very similar to those of cucumber.
Watermelon: contraindications and potential negative effects
Watermelon is a fruit that is not very digestible because the excessive water contained in it dilutes the gastric juices and reduces their digestive action, so its consumption is not recommended for those suffering from poor digestion and it is always better to eat it between meals. so as not to be too “heavy” after eating. Also be careful if you suffer from colitis or gastritis.
People allergic to aspirin or derivatives, should consult their doctor before consuming watermelon as it contains natural salicylates. Finally, remember that excessive consumption of watermelon is contraindicated in case of diabetes, given the high glycemic index. However, if combined with a low glycemic index meal (avoiding eating it alone as a snack) it is possible to consume watermelon from time to time, in moderation, even in the case of diabetes. Finally, remember that watermelon is a fruit that contains nickel.