As far back as the 2nd millennium B.C. watermelons were already being cultivated by civilizations that developed in the Nile Valley. Researchers believe however that the fruit may have originated in the southern regions of the African continent.
It was only in the 13th century that Europe first encountered the fruit as it was brought in by the Moorish invasion. Much later in the Age of Discovery, it is said that watermelons reached the shores of the New World via European colonists.
It’s a good thing watermelons have been around for a long time. Besides the usual vitamins and minerals, there are phytochemicals in this fruit that can keep the eyes and heart functioning optimally. Continue reading and learn the benefits of watermelons.
In typical varieties of watermelons, the flesh gets redder as it reaches full ripeness. This is the best state to consume the fruit as it is at this point that it contains the most nutrients. The red pigment is due to the abundant presence of carotenoids. In watermelons this would specifically be beta-carotene and lycopene.
Beta-carotene is described as a pro-vitamin A substance. It is one of several carotenoids that the body can convert to retinol, the actual Vitamin A and the crucial compound involved in maintaining normal vision. Eating foods rich in this nutrient can effectively reduce the chances of age-related conditions like macular degeneration from developing.
While lycopene technically belongs in the same phytonutrient category, it is not processed into Vitamin A. Its health benefit lies more in its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which in turn is indirectly preventive against cardiovascular diseases. Red or orange colored vegetables like tomatoes are more popular sources of lycopene. But watermelons are now also recognized as a good source. A serving of about 3 ounces of the fruit can contain up to 6,000 micrograms of this nutrient.
One substance particularly found in watermelons that’s gaining the interest of researchers is citrulline. This is an amino acid that the body can convert into another type of amino acid called arginine. This in turn is used to produce nitric oxide, a compound which can relax muscles. One positive effect is that muscles around blood vessels loosen up and thus allow veins and arteries to expand more.
Ultimately blood pressure is reduced and blood flow becomes smoother. This nitric oxide activity is actually similar to the way certain pharmaceuticals treat erectile dysfunction.
Watermelon Practical Uses:
There are a couple of selection tricks you can do to make sure you pick out a fully ripened and therefore abundantly nutritious watermelon in the market.
- Gently rap on the fruit and listen for a slight dull echo.
- Look for a small rough yellow patch somewhere on the skin. That usually means the fruit was left to ripen longer before it was harvested.
- Sometimes a small stem is still left sticking out at one end. If the stem is dried and wrinkled that typically means the watermelon is fully ripe.
Since watermelons are 92% water, they’re the perfect fruit for rehydration. Stick it into a blender and juice it or simply eat it as it is. Either way will refresh and cool down your body after a hard workout.
The pale white rind isn’t typically consumed but there are actual recipes that make use of this part. In Asian cuisine for example this is treated as a vegetable and stir-fried with some olive oil and rum along with other herbs and spices. In the southern US, pickled watermelon rind is a delicacy. There’s a good concentration of citrulline and other nutrients in this often neglected part of the watermelon.
In the next post, I’ll tell you the pros and cons of lemons and how to moderately use it in your quest to Become Superhuman.
In the meantime, if you care to jump ahead, here is a complete listing of the fruits on Superhuman Food Pyramid:
If you have questions, comments or feedback about the benefits of watermelons, the Superhuman Food Pyramid, this website, or other aspects of Becoming Superhuman, then leave your thoughts below, as well as any tips you have on the benefits of watermelons.