It’s watermelon season in Florida!
Sweet, ripe watermelon contains a variety of different phytonutrients, key vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber, and an extremely high water content–roughly 92% . Watermelon is a great source of lycopene and the deeper-red-flesh varieties, at peak ripeness, contain the highest concentrations. The high concentrations of Lycopene and cucurbitacin E make watermelon an excellent anti-inflammatory food. When enjoyed on a regular basis, watermelon’s fiber content can provide additional health benefits at very low calories. Seedless watermelons, an outcome of hybridizations, are similarly nutrient dense compared to seed varieties.
Most people eat only the juicy flesh of the watermelon, but in reality, the seeds and rind are not only edible, but packed with nutrients in their own right. Watermelon seeds provide small amounts of iron, zinc and protein when eaten regularly over time. However, it’s estimated that 85% of all watermelons produced in the U.S. are seedless, so you might have to requested a seeded watermelon at the grocery store.
When purchasing watermelon of any variety, you will want it to be fully ripe as this will provide the most benefits for your health. When considering pre-cut watermelon, the most nutrient-rich option will be the one with the deepest red colored flesh without any white streaking.
Choosing a whole, uncut watermelon is a bit trickier. Consider the weight of the watermelon. A fully ripened watermelon will feel heavy from high water content. You’ll also want to feel the rind. You’re looking for a relatively smooth rind that is slightly dulled on top (the side of the watermelon that was exposed to the elements), with a bottom (the side that was lying on the ground) that is not white or green, but more of a creamy yellow color. If you’re still not sure you’ve found the watermelon you want, ask your grocer to core an uncut watermelon so that you can do a taste test. If you decide not to purchase it, they can still sell it sliced. Watermelon is also easy to grow in your own garden. For tips on growing watermelon, check out GardeningKnowHow.com.