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Watermelon as a food and as Medicine

I would have to say that watermelon is my favourite fruit to eat during the summer months.

They are a horticultural crop belonging to the cucurbitaceae family and cultured worldwide for its delicious fruits.  It can be incredibly satisfying on those hot summer days and nights.  It has a cool energy and so cools the body down.  If we eat according to our food’s natural seasons, watermelon ripens in late summer and is a perfect time of the year to cool our bodies down. Heat begins to accumulate in the body by the end of summer (after months of heat building up inside) and you don’t want to carry that trapped heat during the winter months as this internal latent heat can cause health problems.  What a better way to cool your body down than drinking or eating multiply slices of juicy cool watermelon.

All parts of the watermelon can be used including the fleshy interior, the seeds and the rind.  The flesh can be eaten fresh or used to flavour drinks; it is an excellent source of vitamin A and C, a great source of Vitamin B6 and vitamin B1 and contains various minerals.  The seeds are eaten as a snack or added to other dishes and can be roasted and seasoned.  The seeds are a great source of fat and protein.  The rind can be stir-fried, stewed, pickled or even grilled.  Another good point as to why watermelon is so special is ecologically, the watermelon flowers provide a source of nectar and pollen for bees.

Growing Watermelon

 Watermelons are tropical/subtropical plants and need temperatures higher than 25 degrees C to  grow.   Their growing season is in the warmest months of the year, which is why they are always found at a BBQ   meal.

 Watermelons grow best where there is a lot of open space.  The vines ramble so the plants are going to   spread around the garden as they grow.  They are also heavy feeders, so you might need to  prepare your  soil and make sure it is nutrient rich.  You can also plant soil enriching crops like beans and other legumes in your watermelon patch.  These vegetables make excellent companion plants, and you can even incorporate them into your crop rotation system to get your garden bed ready for the next season.

Watermelons require a thorough watering at least once per week.  This obviously depends on how hot the day gets.  I live in Western Australia and our summers can reach 40 degrees C a couple of times every week, so we need to water every couple of days.  A little bit of fertiliser each week can also be good for your vine as watermelons need all those nutrients to produce sweet fruit.  It is also a good idea to mulch your soil where you have planted your watermelons as this helps with retaining moisture and keeping the weeds away.  Weeds can interfere with the growth of your vine by taking some nutrients from the ground that are meant for your watermelons.

This flowering plant produces a special type of fruit known by botanists as a pepo, a type of egigynous berry or false berry that is derived from an inferior ovary and is characteristic of the Cucurbitaceae family – which also includes cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, luffas and rockmelon. 

The plants produce male and female flowers separately on the same vine.  The female flowers contain the inferior ovaries.  The flowers appear about two weeks after your vine starts to ramble.  The first flowers to appear are the smaller male flowers with the fruit-bearing female flowers appearing soon after.  Most of the time the bees in your garden should be able to pollinate all your flowers for you.  However, if you don’t have that many bees, you can also pollinate them yourselves.

Commercial growers have one beehive per acre.  This is the minimum recommended by the US Department of Agriculture for pollination. 

The number of vines you plant determines how many watermelons you want to grow - each vine can produce between two to four melons during the growing season.  So if that is not enough fruit for the summer, then you will need to plant more seeds/seedlings.

It takes about three months for your watermelon to grow from seed to mature fruit, with smaller varieties having shorter growing times. 

If you are growing from seed, it is best to use open-pollinated or heirloom seeds for the healthiest watermelons instead of the hybrid varieties.  Open pollinated varieties are often more resilient than hybrid varieties as heirloom seeds tend to produce better fruit.

Also growing from seed you won’t necessarily get a good plant from every seed you sow, so make sure you sow more seeds than you really want just in case.  If you get a good supply of seedlings, give some to your family and friends.

If you don’t have enough room to grow your vines on the ground, you can train the vines to grow on a trellis.  This may take a little more effort and time, but it will free up a lot more space to plant other food.  Growing on a trellis will get tricky as the fruit grows.  You will need to put the fruit in a bag and tie the bag to the trellis when it starts to become a fair size.  That way when the fruit grows it won’t fall of the vine the heavier it gets.

Once your vines start to grow, make sure you lookout for rotten parts that need to be clipped away.  If these rotting parts stayed on the vines, then bacteria and fungi might spread and damage the rest of your plant.

There are numerous cultivars of watermelon, which can differ in shape, rind colour, and fruit size, type of seed and colour of flesh.  You can find 2kilo to 40kilo watermelons.  Depending on how much room you have and what type of colour you are wanting to grow there are plenty varieties to choose from.  It is estimated that there are actually more than 1200 different cultivars of watermelon still in existence.

How to know when Watermelons are ready to pick

Knowing when your watermelon is ready is a bit tricky as there is no sure fire way of checking whether the fruit is ready for picking.  A ripe melon has a smooth, hard rind that is usually green with dark green or yellow spots or stripes.  One way of knowing if it’s ready, is that it has a yellow or cream colour on the bottom end of the melon instead of a bright white colour;  you can also tell when you see a brown and dried up tendril near the fruit; you can also knock on the melon  to see if it produces the hollow sound that ripe watermelons makes;  you can pick it up to find one that is heavy and dense for its size.  With all those suggestions, there should be one that will work for you.  Just keep practicing until you get the method that suits you.

Once you cut the watermelon from the vine it has about 3 -4 weeks of shelf life. Wash the outside of your watermelon before you slice into it.  You don’t want your knife to transfer any germs to the inside. Store cut watermelon in a glass or plastic container in the fridge.  It should keep for about 3 – 5 days. 

Don’t eat Icy Watermelon

Caution should be taken not to eat the icy watermelon right after it is taken out of the refrigerator.  The nature of watermelon is cold and it is turning freezing after staying in the refrigerator for several hours.  This could be harmful to the yang of the body and give big burden to the digestion system.  Someone may have the symptoms of catching a cold or even diarrhoea after eating ice cold watermelon.  The suggestion is let the watermelon stay in the room temperature for a while before taking.

Seeds

The seeds are considered a good source of protein, oils and carbohydrates.  They also provide omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, and more.  Specialized varieties of watermelon are grown and have very little water, because they concentrate on putting their energy into seed production.  In China, watermelon seeds are one of the most common snack foods, popular especially with women.  They are actually in competition with Sunflower seeds for popularity.

Although watermelon seeds are perfectly safe to eat, they should be sprouted and shelled to maximize the potential health benefits.  This process can bump up the protein content of the seed and make it easier for your body to access and absorb the nutrient held inside.  If you want to eat seeds, then you are better off getting organic seeds because commercial melon seeds are often treated with synthetic growth simulators. 

A present study reveals that the nutritive value of cookies could be improved by the addition of inexpensive watermelon seed protein concentrates.  The study revealed this possible use of watermelon seed proteins can partial replace gluten in cookies.  The antioxidant capacity resulting from the addition of watermelon rind in the cakes can also improve the shelf life of the cakes.

Were you ever told as a kid that if you swallow watermelon seeds, they’ll grow in your belly?  I was and I am still waiting!!!  Believe it or not, this is not true.  After all, your stomach has no sunlight or soil, and a lot of gastric acid.  Many melons are seedless these days anyway, but don’t worry if you do swallow a seed.  They’re actually full of nutrients and you are doing more good than harm to your gut.

Seedless Watermelons

Certain watermelon plants have been genetically modified to produce melon with no seeds or small white seeds.  A lot of research has actually been put into breeding disease-resistant varieties of melon and developing seedless strains that keep all the nutrients intact. 

Seedless watermelons are a product of crossing a female tetraploid plant (itself the product of genetic manipulation, using colchicine) with diploid pollen.  This results in a triploid plant that is sterile, but will reproduce the seedless fruit if pollinized by a diploid plant. 

Because seedless hybrid watermelons have sterile pollen, polliniser rows of diploid plants are planted between rows of the hybrid watermelons.  Since the supply of viable pollen is reduced and pollinations is much more critical in producing the seedless variety, the recommended number of bee hives per acre, or pollinator density is three hives.

This system for growing seedless watermelons was first developed by H. Kilhara in Japan.

History

Mark Twain referred to watermelon in one of his books as “chief of this world’s luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth.  When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat”. 

The angels would have probably gagged if they had eaten the watermelon’s wild ancestor – the citron melon.  It has only been through generations of selective breeding, spanning several countries and cultures, that today we produce the sweet red fruit of watermelon.

Harry Paris, a horticulturalist at the Agricultural Research Organization in Israel, has spent years assembling clues – including ancient Hebrew texts, artefacts in Egyptian tombs, and medieval illustrations – that have enabled him to chronicle the watermelon’s astonishing 5,000 year transformation.

The Citron melon that grows in Southern Africa is a candidate for watermelons ancient ancestor but Paris is doubtful.  He found evidence that the Egyptians began growing watermelon crops around 4,000 year ago which predates Southern Africa.  The is also evidence that archaeologists found watermelon seeds, along with other fruits, at a 5,000 year old settlement in Libya.

There were large seeds reported in Twelfth dynasty sites: numerous watermelon seeds were recovered from the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, as well paintings showing watermelons as an oblong shape and not the round shape of the citron melon that was said to be the first watermelons.

These Egyptian pharaohs, when they died they had a long journey ahead of them so they needed a source of water.  Unlike other fruits, watermelons remained edible for weeks or even months if kept in a cool and shaded area.  The Pharaoh’s obviously thought that packing some watermelon into their tombs; they would be able to stay hydrated through their long journey in the spirit world.

Paris found writings from 400 B.C to 500 A.D indicating that watermelon spread from north-eastern Africa to Mediterranean countries.  He thinks that in addition to trade and bartering, the watermelons territorial expansion was aided by its unique role as a natural canteen for fresh water on long voyages.

The ancient Greek physicians, including Hippocrates and Dioscorides, have praised watermelon for its many healing properties.  It was prescribed as a diuretic and as a way to treat children with heatstroke.  The Roman naturalist, Pliny the elder, described in his first century encyclopaedia, Historia Naturalis, the extremely cooling properties of watermelon.

Around 425 A.D. a Byzantine-era mosaic depicts what appears to be a cut watermelon with yellow-orange flesh.  In the subsequent years, the watermelon would take on its familiar red hue.  That is because the gene for the colour red is paired with the gene that determines the sugar content.  As watermelons were bred to become even sweeter, their interior gradually changed colour.

By the 10th century A.D., watermelons were being cultivated in china, which is today the world’s single largest watermelon producer in the world. 

Museums Online South Africa list watermelons as having been introduced to North American Indians in the 1500’s.  Early French explorers found Native Americans cultivating the fruit in the Mississippi Valley.  Southern food historian John Egerton has said he believes African slaves helped introduce the watermelon to the United States. 

David Livingstone, and explorer of Africa, described watermelon as abundant in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa.  The ancestral melon grows wild and is known as the Tsamma melon (Citrullus lanatus var citroides).  It is a popular source of water in the diet of the indigenous people.  It is used for making pickles and because of its high content of pectin is popular as a constituent of jams, jellies, and other gelled preserves.

Charles Fredric Andrus, a horticulturist at the USDA Vegetable Breeding Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, wanted to produce a disease-resistant and wilt-resistant watermelon.  The result was called “that gray melon from Charleston”.  Its oblong shape and hard rind made it easy to stack and ship.  It produced high yields and was resistant to the most serious watermelon diseases anthracnose and fusarium wilt. The name of this variety – you guessed it – Charleston Gray.

Nutritional

    Although watermelon may not be as nutrient-dense as fruits such as berries or oranges, there are still some impressive benefits associated with nutrition.  All the varieties of watermelon are loaded with antioxidants and have been associated with a wide range of health benefits. 

For most people, one or two cups per day of watermelon are a good amount.  Because there is a relatively high amount of natural sugars such as glucose, fructose and sucrose in watermelon and little fibre and almost no healthy fats, eating larger amounts may spike blood sugar levels.

If you are trying to keep your blood glucose levels steady, then watermelon can help.  It has a glycaemic index value of 80, about the same as a bowl of cornflakes, but has few carbs.  This means that its glycaemic load (how quickly it enters your blood stream and how much glucose it can produce) is a mere 5.

Watermelon is 92% water by weight, which is the highest percentage of any fruit.  It can be eaten in a variety of ways and is also often used to flavour summer drinks and smoothies.  Every cell in your body needs water, and even if you have a small shortage in your cells it can make you feel sluggish.  If you get really dehydrated, it can become serious enough that you may need to get your fluids by an IV.  So what better way to stay hydrated then by eating a cup or two of watermelon.

There are low amounts of calories in watermelon making it a great addition to a nutritious weight loss diet.  For this reason, watermelon benefits weight loss by promoting satiety (fullness) and curbing cravings to keep you on track toward your health goals. 

One cup of watermelon will provide around 48 calories and no fat.  It is an excellent source of Vitamin C and vitamin A and much more.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s data on watermelon nutrition, one cup (about 152 grams) contains approximately:

  • 46 calories
  • 5 grams carbs
  • 1 gram protein
  • 2 grams fat
  • 6 grams dietary fiber
  • 3 milligrams vitamin C (21 percent DV)
  • 865 international units vitamin A (17 percent DV)
  • 170 milligrams potassium (5 percent DV)
  • 2 milligrams magnesium (4 percent DV)
  • 1 milligrams thiamine (3 percent DV)
  • 1 milligrams vitamin B6 (3 percent DV)
  • 3 milligrams pantothenic acid (3 percent DV)
  • 1 milligrams copper (3 percent DV)
  • 1 milligrams manganese (3 percent DV)

What do these Vitamins and Minerals do?

Vitamin A helps form and maintains healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes and skin.  Vitamin A promotes good eyesight and has a role to play in a healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding as well. 

Vitamin B6 helps the body to make antibodies.  Antibodies are needed to fight many diseases and to maintain normal nerve function.  Vitamin B6 makes haemoglobin which carries red blood cells to our tissues.  A vitamin B6 deficiency can cause a form of anemia.  Vitamin B6 also breaks down proteins you eat, so if you eat a lot of protein, you will need more B6.  It also helps to keep blood sugar in the normal ranges.

Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of our body.  It helps to make more skin cells – this helps to heal wounds and form scars, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.  Vitamin C helps to repair and maintain cartilage, bones and teeth.  It is also important as it aids the absorption of iron.  It is one of the many antioxidants which help to block some of the damage caused by free radicals.  Free radicals can be responsible for aging, heart disease, conditions like arthritis and play a role in cancer.

Potassium is a very important mineral for our bodies.  We need it to build proteins, breakdown and use carbohydrates, build muscles, to maintain normal body growth, control the heart and to control the acid base balance in our gut.  Potassium acts as an electrolyte and promotes circulatory health while also helping manage blood flow and hydration levels within the body, allowing oxygen to reach your cells. 

At the same time, magnesium reduces water retention in the gut to beat bloating and help you lose water weight.  Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.  It helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, keeps the heartbeat steady, adjusts blood glucose levels, supports our immune system, helps bones to remain strong and it aids in the production of energy.

Thiamine helps the body’s cells change carbohydrates into energy.  Carbohydrates provide energy for the body especially for the brain and the nervous system.  It also plays a role in the conduction of nerve signals and muscle contraction.

Phosphorus function is in the formation of bones and teeth.  It plays an important role in how the body uses carbohydrates and fats.  It is also needed for the body to make protein for growth maintenance and repair of cells and tissues.  Phosphorus works well with B Vitamins to help kidney function, muscle contractions, normal heartbeat and nerve signalling.

Exercise enthusiasts

Watermelons high water content, antioxidants and amino acids may make for a better workout. Also being high in potassium could cut down on cramps at the gym.  You can sip watermelon juice after you sweat, too.  Doing so could help prevent muscle soreness, as long as you don’t push yourself too hard.

One study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry looked at the effects of watermelon juice as a functional drink for athletes.  After 24 hours of supplementation, athletes experienced improved heart rates that were more beneficial for muscle recovery in addition to less overall soreness and muscle aches.

A 2016 study found that watermelon puree consumption fully supported the energy demands of exercise and increased post-exercise blood levels of nutritional components (l-citrulline and I-arginine), antioxidant capacity and total nitrate status.  Another study also done in 2016 found that it offered benefits to those doing high intensity or endurance exercise, but overall it didn’t prolong time to exhaustion.

Lycopene

The cherry red colour comes from lycopene an antioxidant.  Studies show it may help curb your risk of cancer and diabetes as part of a healthy lifestyle.  Watermelon has more of this nutrient than any other fruit or veggie – even tomatoes.  To load up on lycopene, choose a melon with bright red flesh rather than yellow or orange.  And the riper, the better.  Also seedless melon tends to have more lycopene than those with seeds.  However the content of lycopene differs among the different cultivars of watermelon as well as being determined by the growing environment. 

New research, including results from a 2019 study, suggests that drinking 100% watermelon juice is “palatable, effective means of increasing serum lycopene in older adult women, a group at risk for low carotenoid (antioxidant) intake.”  Therefore, the intake of watermelon as a dietary snack or in beverage form can induce the antioxidant potentials in the human body and help in the improvement of cell signalling, adhesion and other biological activites.

Watermelon rinds are also edible and used as a vegetable in China.  They are stir-fried, stewed and even pickled.  When stir-fried, the de-skinned and de-fruited rind is cooked with olive oil, garlic, chilli peppers, scallions, sugar and rum.  Pickled watermelon rind is also widespread in Russia, Ukraine, and Romania.

The rind is rich in silicon and its outer green skin is concentrated in chlorophyll.  You can juice the rind and drink or dry the rind and turn it into a refreshing tea.  Cut the rinds up and sun dry them or put them into a food dehydrator.

In addition to the rind and flesh, watermelon peels also exhibited the antioxidant capacity.  The report determined the presence of protein, fat, ash, fibre, sodium, potassium, calcium, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc in the watermelon peel. 

Medicinal

Bioactive compounds present in watermelon have numerous health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of cardio vascular disease, aging related ailments, obesity, diabetes, and various cancer alleviating effects have also been reported.                                          

The seeds of watermelon have a high arginine content which adds to their medicinal benefits.  Recently, Sola et al, identified and quantified the phytochemicals in the methanol extracts derived from the seeds as evidence they have anti-bacterial properties.  The seeds are actually diuretic, helping flush excess fluids from the body.

The rind is also used as medicine.  It is not as cooling and is more diuretic than the fruit or seeds.  Medicinally, it is used for jaundice with dark urine and oedema from summer heat (a condition of heat accumulation in the body during the heat of summer).  The signs and symptoms include; headache, scanty dark urination, dry lips, thirst, and an aversion to heat. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) watermelon is so good at cooling the body down.  Eating it, or drinking the juice, at times of the year when it does not grow, unless you live in an exceedingly hot climate all year, is not a good idea to consume.  Neither is eating or drinking watermelon at any time of the year either, if you feel cold or have signs of coldness.

TCM Properties

Energy and flavours: Cold, sweet

Organs and channels affected: Heart, Stomach, and Bladder

Properties and actions: Diuretic, refrigerant; clears summer heat, drains dampness, clears damp heat

Caution: Digestive weakness

Watermelon is called “Natural White tiger decoction” in Chinese Medicine.  White Tiger Decoction is a formula to treat the condition of “heat” with major symptoms of high fever, extremely thirst and sweat.  After eating watermelon, people will probably go to the restroom within a very brief time and the symptom of thirst and heat will be released. 

You need to avoid watermelon if you have feelings of coldness; copious, clear urination; white, copious or runny discharges; pale, frigid appearance; cold limbs; fatigue; oedema; loose stools or diarrhoea; night-time urination; frigidity; or undigested food in the stools.

Watermelon as a sunscreen

Another benefit – well maybe, but you have to make that call, is the lycopene in watermelon may make it less likely that you get sunburned.  This is not proven so I would suggest you keep using your chosen sunscreen, just in case.  Vitamin A can help maintain healthy cells in your skin and protect against UV damage as well.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of increasing death rate worldwide.  The cost of treating these diseases is very high.  A recent study has demonstrated the ability of watermelon to reduce the risk factors of cardiovascular disorder in humans.  Watermelon is rich in an amino acid called citrulline that may help move blood through your body and can lower your blood pressure.  Your heart also enjoys the perks of all the lycopene in watermelon as well.  Therefore adapting a lifestyle with cardio-friendly diet would decrease the risk factors. The consumption of fruits rich in l-citrulline such as watermelon is important to obtaining the necessary nutrition. 

According to Connolly et al, consumption of watermelon on a daily basis for a period of four weeks resulted in significant reductions in body weight, body mass index, and waist to hip ratio and blood pressure.  Overall, it has been evident that the consumption of watermelon in regular basis reduces the risk factors associated with chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases.

Obesity and Diabetes

Obesity is an alarming public health issue worldwide which is linked to crucial metabolic ailments including diabetes and lifestyle related diseases.  According to the National Diabetics Statistics Report (2020) published by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 45.8% of adults in the US are obese, among which 10.5% of the population suffer with diabetes.

There was a study done in 2019 that found the nutrients in watermelon increased satiety (fullness) and postprandial glucose and insulin response.  After four weeks of intervention in overweight and obese adults, consuming two cups of watermelon rather than cookies led to a significantly higher satiety response (lower hunger, prospective food consumption and desire to eat and greater fullness) plus significantly decreased body weight, body mass index (BMI), systolic blood pressure and waist-to-hip ratio.

Eye Heath

Watermelon can play a role in protecting eye health because of the nutrients beta-carotene, vitamin A, Vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin.  Studies have shown that a serious vitamin A deficiency, for example, can lead to macular degeneration, a condition characterized by the thickening of the cornea that could eventually lead to blindness.

Joint pain

The natural pigment in watermelon is called beta-cryptoxanthin.  This may protect your joints from inflammation where some studies show that over time, it could make you less likely to get rheumatoid arthritis.

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is one of the inflammatory bowel diseases that occur broadly which cause the mucosal inflammation in the entire bowel system.  UC is also associated with the onset of other related ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriasis.  One of the major factors that increase the pathogenesis of UC is oxidated stress which leads to DNA damage.  The abundant antioxidant property of watermelon can be responsible for alleviating the oxidative stress and thus protecting from DNA from damage.

Digestive disorders

If you have a digestive conditions like Crohn’s or Colitis, the list of what not to eat during a flare can be long.  You can put watermelon on your “yes” list.  Its soft, fleshy fruit is easy for even an inflamed gut to digest. (Just don’t eat the rind or the seeds if you need to limit fibre)

Seeds are also a remedy for constipation.  Dried seeds are decocted into a tea or if you are eating fresh seeds make sure you chew them well.

Help prevent Kidney Stones

Studies have also shown that the potassium found in fruits and vegetables is very helpful in cleaning toxins and washing out waste from the blood, helping prevent kidney stones.  Watermelon has 5% of your daily allowance of potassium.

Acid Reflux

One of the benefits of watermelon is that it is often used to reduce acid reflux symptoms.  Melons are a part of the GAPS diet, which is designed to help treat digestive disease and reduce inflammation. Melons are believed to soothe the gastrointestinal tract and regulate pH levels while also lessening inflammation and acid production throughout the body.  Due to its fructose (sugar), watermelon may trigger discomfort in people sensitive to high FODMAP foods.

May help with Cancer

An important benefit of watermelon for men is that lycopene, one of the main carotenoids found in the fruit, has been linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer in some studies.  Research also shows that lycopene plays a part in keeping cell membranes strong so they can protect themselves from toxins that can potentially cause cell death or mutation.

Watermelon is also a great supplier of antioxidants vitamin C and Vitamin A, both of which help fight free radical damage and prevent DNA mutation to block the formation of cancerous cells.  Studies have also shown that high doses of vitamin C can enhance the cancer fighting effects of certain drugs used in chemotherapy while also reducing adverse side effects of traditional cancer treatments.

Further studies related to the identification and extraction of the potential phytochemicals with efficient anti-cancer activity can aid in the search for drug candidates for several dreadful cancers.  Intake of watermelon displayed potential health benefits against several life threatening diseases.

Erectile dysfunction

In some studies citrulline found in watermelons rind, has demonstrated to be a safe and well accepted alternative treatment for mild to moderate erectile dysfunction in men.

Skin health

Watermelon benefits skin health because it’s one of the top antioxidant foods available.  Due to the high content of antioxidant vitamins A and C, watermelon benefits for skin include its ability to protect the cells against damage and fight free radical formation to slow aging and keep your skin looking healthy.  Vitamin C is also important for skin health.  It helps boost collagen production while also helping prevent sun damage. 

Vitamins A, B6 and C in watermelon also help your skin stay soft, smooth, and supple.  Because it’s loaded with water, watermelon also makes a great face mask.  Mix 1 tablespoon of watermelon juice with the same amount of Greek yoghurt.  Spread over your face and leave on for 10 minutes to slough off and dry, dull skin.  Rinse and pat dry.

Watermelon Recipes

Try adding some to drinks or smoothies for a weight loss friendly punch of flavour.  You can also use it to make refreshing watermelon water, or try freezing it for a cool summer treat.

Another popular way to enjoy is by sprinkling salt on watermelon or adding it to salads, fruit cups and desserts.  To make an easy sorbet, puree some watermelon in your blender, add a squeeze of lime, and pop in the freezer until it hardens.

Make a watermelon pizza by topping wedges of watermelon with yoghurt, mint, slivered almonds and berries.  Save the seeds – toss with olive oil and sea salt, and then roast them for a tasty healthy snack.

A cup of ice cream will set you back around 300 calories.  You can enjoy the same amount of watermelon of just 45.6 calories.  And unlike many other desserts, it’s fat-free, low in cholesterol, and has no sodium.  Plus, the water in it will help you stay fuller longer. 

There a quite a few watermelon recipes on the net.  I have downloaded a few and put them into a pdf file here

Watermelon Seed Art

This is a great activity for kids.  It can help them to show off their imagination.  Depending on your child’s age, you can draw a simple picture and get them to paste watermelon seeds over the lines.  For those children that are older they can start their art work from scratch and design a piece without the outlines.  See below for some artwork I have downloaded from the net.

You can do a drawing with plasticine and watermelon seeds; pasta and watermelon seeds.  Use wool as the outline and infill with watermelon seeds.  The ideas are endless.

             

        

Other interesting facts

Watermelon also has been used as a popular symbol.  The watermelon slice is striking and unmistakable in appearance.  It looks like a kuku flower in bloom.  Art related to the Mexican holiday Di de los Muertos (Day of the Dean – October 31 – November 2) commonly depicts watermelons being eaten by the dead or shown in close conjunction with the dead.  Watermelons are a frequent subject in Mexican still life art.

In the US and South Africa watermelon is used as an alcoholic novelty.  They bore a hole into watermelon, pour the liquor inside and allow it to mix with the flesh of the fruit.  The watermelon is then cut and served as normal.  Don’t think that is very nutritional, but would make a novel talking point at a party. Make sure if you are going to do this you let your fellow party goes know so they don’t eat more than they should.

In Japan farmers of the Zentsuji region found a way to grow cubic watermelons, by growing the fruits in glass boxes and letting them naturally assume the shape of the square glass box.  The square shape supposedly makes the melons easier to stack and store, but the square watermelons are often more than double the price of normal ones.  Have to put that down on my to do list.  If anyone out there has grown watermelons in a square box, I would really love to know.

 

References

Healing with Whole Foods – Paul Pitchford

Herbal Remedies and Home Comforts – Jill Nice

Influence of watermelon seed protein concentrates on dough handling, textural and sensory properties of cookies - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375180/

https://www.livestrong.com/article/408893-benefits-of-watermelon-rinds/

https://www.watermelon.org/recipes/watermelon-rind-stir-fry/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/08/150821-watermelon-fruit-history-agriculture/

Origin and emergence of the sweet dessert watermelon https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26141130/

Art from https://en.tierient.com/crafts-from-watermelon-seeds-for-children/