It’s summer, and that means it is watermelon season again! If you haven’t already noticed, grocery stores have started stocking up on huge quantities of watermelons just in time for picnic season to go into full swing. So maybe it’s time for a quick refresher on exactly what qualities to look for in the perfect melon, after all, it’s not like melons are in season for more than a few months a year, and we don’t get a lot of practice.
Finding the Perfect Watermelon
While it shouldn’t be hard to find a deliciously ripe and juicy watermelon from the bin at the grocery store, there are some key characteristics to look for when digging through the pile.
- First, always find a watermelon with some heft to it. When you pick it up, it should feel much heavier than expected. This means it has had a chance to ripen and has developed into full juiciness.
- Second, look for the yellow spot on the melon. This is where the melon was resting on the ground. This sunspot should be more of a darker yellow rather than a whitish cream. This indicates the melon has had a longer time to ripen.
- Thirdly, rap your knuckles on the fruit, just like you would knock on a door. It should sound hollow. If you hear a duller noise, this usually means it hasn’t had a chance to ripen enough, or it might indicate it has started to become too mushy on the inside.
- Finally, with any fruits and vegetable, try to source organic, non-GMO melons that have been locally grown. Because they are a hardy fruit, they can easily be grown in most climates, making it easy to find locally at your farmers market no matter where you live.
Watermelon Health Benefits
Yes, watermelons are delicious, but are they also nutritious? Definitely! They are also safe to eat in most circumstances. However, just like you wouldn’t want to sit down to eat pounds and pounds of any fruit, it’s best to eat watermelon in normal quantities. It also does contain high levels of sugars, placing it quite high on the glycemic index. This means that if you are trying to manage your blood sugar, or are diabetic, it’s best to only enjoy watermelon in smaller quantities on a daily basis. Finally, because one can so easily get carried away with larger portions, if you suffer from hyperkalemia (which is characterized by too much potassium), it’s best to only consume one cup or less a day.
With those small precautions out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff! Some of the watermelons’ many health benefits come from a substance called lycopene which is found in many red foods, like tomatoes, red carrots, papayas, and watermelon. The riper and redder the melon the more lycopene it contains. Lycopene is a carotene that helps promote healthy bones, heart, and is an anti-inflammatory. But don’t just get caught up with the red parts of the fruit, as the white area next to the rind also contains important vitamins and minerals so shouldn’t be discarded. Without further ado, here are some of the top 5 watermelon benefits, we bet you didn’t know about.
1. Helps with Acid Reflux
All melons help with acid reflux disease. They all contain specific characteristics that soothe overactive stomach acids, and settle upset digestive tracts. In fact they are included in most special dietary regimes meant to reduce and eliminate acid reflux disease. This is in part because of their anti-inflammatory properties, and their ability to balance pH levels.
It goes without saying that watermelon is primarily composed of water, and is therefore super hydrating. But did you also know that by drinking watermelon juice, you can help flush your body from the unwanted build up of toxins? It can also help reduce water retention. Watermelons contain high levels of magnesium and potassium, which are both essential to a proper detox.
3. Maintains Heart Health
It might be surprising, but watermelon extracts are having powerful results in studies around heart health. In one example, watermelon extracts were found to reduce blood pressure and also hypertension in adults. Also, because of the magnesium and potassium contents of watermelon, they are able to lower the risk of heart disease.
Watermelons have high levels of lycopene, which among many other things, help reduce inflammation. It is thought to do this because it inhibits the biological inflammatory response. By treating this one symptom, it can lead to widespread results for many other health issues, because inflammation is often the root cause. Also, this fruit contains a substance called choline, which was also demonstrated to reduce inflammation according to a study published in 2006.
5. Soothes Sore Muscles
The newest trend in workout recovery is not coconut water, but watermelon water. This is because study after study has shown that watermelon water seems to reduce muscle and joint soreness the day following an intense workout. Watermelon, in particular a substance called citrulline, seems to also improve athletic performance. Why? Well, it may be because citrulline and other amino acids found in the fruit can help improve circulation to the strained muscles, thereby increasing recovery time.