Watermelon or Citrullus lanatus is a fruit native to Africa. It is among the largest fruits of the Cucurbitaceae family.
Other poetic and less matter-of-factual names across the world are “pastèque”, “cocomero”, “karpuz” or “melancia”.
There are multiple watermelon cultivars, with and without seeds, of various sizes, with yellow or pink flesh, round or oval shapes. Fruit weight can vary from one species to the next. Some can even weigh up to 44 lbs (20 kg).
Watermelon requires rich soil and a full sun emplacement. Sowing is in spring and harvest in summer.
Thirst-quenching and refreshing, it is eaten during the hot summer season, either as starters or for dessert.
Watermelon is also used for its therapeutic and cosmetic benefits.
- Read also: how to grow watermelon
Watermelon, a short story
Native to Africa, in the Nile valley, watermelon used to grow in the wild over 5,000 years ago.
One generation at a time, mankind domesticated it, and selected sweeter and sweeter specimens for reproduction.
In Antiquity, The Greeks and Romans preferred watermelon over melon.
The IXth century is when watermelon arrived in Spain. It then spread to the rest of Europe, and jumped over the pond to reach the United States.
Egyptian peasants would gift travelers with watermelons to refresh them during their trips.
In Vietnam, watermelon seeds were given to newlyweds as a token of fertility.
Did you know? In the USA, watermelon is a connected to racist stereotypes.
Health benefits and therapeutic value of watermelon
Watermelon is bursting with water (92%). In times of very hot weather, it can protect us from dehydration.
Know also that it is an excellent diuretic. It is effective in case of edema.
Watermelon contains potassium which is effective against muscle cramps and sore muscles.
It’s also good for the heart, since watermelon seeds expand blood vessels, reduce arterial hypertension and thus prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Watermelon contains a powerful antioxidant, called lycopene. It slows cancerous cell multiplication, protects the body from cardiovascular diseases and shields skin from the nefarious impact of over-exposure to the sun.
Watermelon contains many vitamins: vitamin C (11mg/100g) which reinforces our immune system, beta-carotene (pro vitamin A) that supports eye vision and vitamin B6 tissue formation and proper nervous system activity.
Since it is very low on calories, 30 kcal / 3.5 oz (100 g), with zero cholesterol, it is perfect for diets. On top of that, the high water content quickly leads the stomach to signal that it is satiated. It is recommended for overweight persons.
As regards digestion, eating watermelon can soothe heartburn and reduce flatulence. It also declutters the colon, liver, kidneys, urinary tract and will eliminate intestinal parasites from your body.
As for sexual activity, watermelon seeds contain citrulline, an amino acid known to be a natural vasodilator. Watermelon can thus counter erectile disorders.
The seeds can also stimulate memory and have laxative and anti-inflammatory properties.
Watermelon rind or peel demonstrates anti-fungal properties, it slows growth of fungus and mushrooms.
Watermelon isn’t contraindicated for pregnant women.
Cooking with watermelon
Bite into the juicy fruit for starters or for dessert, or cube it up in a fruit salad. It is also deliciously refreshing in ice cream, smoothies, cold soup or juice.
- Nutritional content of watermelon
Calories 30kcal/ 3.5 oz (100 g), Carbohydrates 7g / 3.5 oz (100 g), Lipids 0,08g/ 3.5 oz (100 g), Potassium 179mg/ 3.5 oz (100 g), Magnesium 12.6 mg/ 3.5 oz (100 g).
If eaten frozen, watermelon has been known to irritate the stomach.
- Savory ideas with watermelon
To try out new surprising flavors in your mixed salads, grill your watermelon seeds and sprinkle them with salt, and add to the seasoning.
Watermelon rind jam: Cook the watermelon rind with half its weight in sugar with just a little water at the bottom of the pot. Add a few lemon zests (grated lemon peel).
For watermelon flesh jam, select the ‘Gingerine’ watermelon variety, which is only eaten cooked.
Smoothie – Blend a fourth of a watermelon together with 10 strawberries. Add the juice from one pressed lemon, and a glass of sparkling water.
- How to choose and keep watermelon
Best select a heavy watermelon, it will have a higher water content and thus be healthier.
It will keep at room temperature.
Watermelon seed infusion is drunk to purify the kidneys: boil 4 teaspoons of crushed watermelon seeds in water. Filter seeds out and drink.
Watermelon juice to drink all those watermelon health benefits in: Remove the rind, and blend the chopped watermelon. Add lemon juice and mint leaves.
Keep in the refrigerator for up to 24h.
Watermelon beauty tips
Remedy against mycosis – Rub the watermelon rind on the skin, and rinse off.
This tip also applies to acne-prone skin types.
Skin tonic – A cotton swab dipped in watermelon juice will act as a skin tonic, will eliminate sebum and will tighten skin pores.
Natural scrub – Mash the white portion of the watermelon rind, mix in a table spoon of cottage cheese and flour thicken the paste. Apply on face and rinse off.
Oil extracted from watermelon seeds is used to hydrate the skin and nourish hair.
- Read also: how to grow watermelon