Sunday, July 13, 2014

Watermelon- The Versatile Summer Fruit

By Jeanette Andrade, MS, RD, LDN



Summer is in full swing and if you live in the mid-west you have likely taken part of the traditional summer foods- hot dogs, brats, corn on the cob, and watermelon. In this episode, I will be discussing the delectable, sweet fruit - watermelon. As a child watermelon has been the summer fruit of my choice. I would literally eat a whole watermelon in one day and look for another one the next day. I can no longer eat a whole watermelon by myself, but I can certainly eat a large piece. Watermelon is great to eat as a side dish, snack, or as a meal as it is low in calories and contains several nutrients.
I know several of you will be shocked when I mention watermelon has antioxidants (as that appears to be the go to word I use all the time when describing these foods) such as lycopene. Here is a fun fact- the US population gets the majority of their lycopene from eating watermelon than from eating any other type of fresh fruit (George Mateljan Foundation, 2014).
Watermelon also contains an amino acid citrulline that when consumed will convert into another amino acid arginine. Arginine has been shown to improve blood flow and is beneficial for cardiovascular health (George Mateljan Foundation, 2014). As you can likely guess watermelon also contains vitamin C, this nutrient has also been shown to be beneficial for cardiovascular health. Many B-vitamins and potassium are found in watermelon, so even though this fruit is low in calories, it packs a powerful punch in each serving. The typical serving size for watermelon is 1.5 cups cut or 1/16 cut of a watermelon = 85 calories, 0.4 grams of total fat, and 22 grams of total carbohydrates (CalorieKing, 2014). 



So how about using watermelon to make a nice, fresh salsa?
The recipe is from All Recipes (2014) and makes 2 cups:

Ingredients
2 cups seeded and coarsely chopped watermelon
2 tablespoons chopped onion
3 tablespoons seeded, chopped Anaheim chile
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon garlic sauce

Directions
In a serving bowl, mix together the watermelon, onion, and chile pepper. Season with balsamic vinegar and garlic salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to blend flavors.

Per 2 tablespoons: 8 calories, 0 grams total fat, 2 grams total carbohydrates, 0.2 grams total protein

AllRecipes.com (2014). Watermelon Salsa. Retrieved on http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Watermelon-Salsa/Detail.aspx?evt19=1

CalorieKing (2014). How Many Calories in Watermelon, Raw? Retrieved from http://www.calorieking.com/foods/calories-in-fresh-fruits-watermelon-raw_f-ZmlkPTYzNjA1.html

George Mateljan Foundation (2014). Watermelon. Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=31

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