Watermelon season is ending in some parts of the U.S., but before it’s all over let us take this time to hone in on why watermelon is so beloved.
A recent news headline reads, “Watermelon-eating dog prompts man to stab himself.” A man was so distraught over losing his watermelon to a dog that he stabbed himself to show the dog’s owner that he was not afraid of pain. Wow! He sure does love that melon.
Meanwhile, my friend Tom takes Chi Quong classes and is rewarded with watermelon at the end of each session. Chi or Qi means “life force” or energy and Chi Quong is a physical training regimen meant to restore energy.
One purported benefit of Chi Quong is that it improves back health by increasing blood flow to otherwise dehydrated muscles and discs adjacent to the spine. The post-Chi Quong watermelon may also enhance hydration.
Watermelon, living rightly by its name, is a very watery melon. It holds more water than any other fruit (92 percent water), which is perfect for rehydrating the body overall. It is the watery nature of this melon that also makes it a low glycemic food.
The water content dilutes the amount of sugar per serving thereby causing a slower rise in blood sugar after consumption compared to other fruits.
However, all fresh fruits and vegetables are “low glycemic” when compared to dry processed foods. Water rich foods are the foods that will help you achieve that coveted “six pack.”
One downfall of watermelon, aside from it causing a man to stab himself, is that it is not exceptionally high in most of the nutrients found in other fruits. Watermelon is, however, one of the few well known sources of a carotenoid called lycopene. Lycopene brings blush to foods such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit, guava and, of course, watermelon.
Lycopene is one of the hundreds of identified antioxidants-disease fighting, free radical scavengers.
It is especially protective in the liver, lungs, prostate gland, colon and skin, where the concentration of lycopene tends to be higher than all other carotenoids.
Research shows that lycopene is more bio-available when its food sources are pureed or cooked. Some great sources of Lycopene include tomato soups, sauces, juices and organic ketchup.
Lycopene is also a very stable antioxidant and does not significantly degrade when frozen.
If you are trying to stock up on melon while it is still in season, here are a few helpful recipes so you can eat some now and freeze some for later. Hopefully you will restore your Chi and not stab yourself over a melon-eating mutt.
Elizabeth Brown is a registered dietitian and certified holistic chef specializing in weight management, sports nutrition, disease prevention and optimal health through whole foods. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.