You know that watermelon is almost synonymous with summer picnics but we bet that you didn’t know that August 3rd is National Watermelon Day! And that’s only the beginning, there is so much more to this summer favorite! Not only are they a lot more kid and picker eater friendly than they used to be because they are now readily available seedless but they’re easy to add to recipes like salsa! Here are some crisp, yummy facts on watermelons for you to gobble down!
Did you know that the first recorded watermelon harvest took place in Egypt about 5,000 years ago, as depicted in hieroglyphics? Or that watermelons come in different sizes and even various colors? Since watermelons come in about 1,200 varieties there are bound to be some differences. Some varieties are small enough to fit in your refrigerator while others can weigh well over 100 pounds! Also instead of the traditional reddish pink flesh with lots of seeds, some varieties have yellow or orange pulp and are seedless.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that watermelon is no more than flavored sugar and water. Actually, watermelon is a very nutritious fruit. Its nutrients are hard from watered down! It is not only high in vitamin C and vitamins B1 and B6, but one of the best sources of the carotenoid lycopene, which works synergistically with vitamin C to promote good eye health and help prevent heart disease and cancer. In addition, the high water content of watermelon makes it a natural diuretic, while the magnesium and potassium that watermelon contains help lower blood pressure.
Watermelon is the perfect summer snack, however, if you’re diabetic, pre-diabetic, or otherwise, need to closely monitor your glucose level, you need to be careful. Watermelon has a higher glycemic index than other fruits, so you need to be especially mindful of portion sizes. Moderation is the key. If you are cutting yourself a wedge of watermelon, not overindulging may be easier said than done. So a good alternative for carb watchers is a summer salsa. Dice the watermelon into little pieces and combine with fresh tomato, jalapeno, onions, cilantro (optional), and lime juice. Add a dash of salt to taste, and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving so that the flavors will be mixed. Another advantage to serving watermelon in the form of salsa is that the salsa will probably be an accompaniment to other foods, including those that are high in protein, like meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs, which take longer to digest. As as result, glucose levels won’t spike quickly, like they are prone to do when a big slice of watermelon is eaten by itself.
Watermelon Worries? Relax! Here is how to know when your melon is ready:
Ripe watermelons are symmetrical in shape and heavy for their size because they are full of water. Another way to test the ripeness of a watermelon is to tap on it. If you hear a hollow sound, it is ripe.
The last thing you want to have happen is to lug this heavy fruit home, only to discover later when you cut it open in your kitchen that it is no good. You can avoid that from happening by taking a few moments to examine the fruit thoroughly before deciding to buy it. The fruit should not have any dents, bruises, or cuts.
Watermelons that are rock hard are underripe, while those with soft spots or lumps are overripe. The rind should be smooth, but not shiny, and the stem should be dark brown. A ripe melon will also have a sweet smell.
Check the underside of the melon, too. Look for a yellow, rather than white, spot on the bottom. This little patch of color is called the field spot. Watermelons that have lots of stripes on all sides are not yet ripe. A ripe melon will also yield to gentle pressure.
Unfortunately, underripe watermelons won’t ripen properly at home, should you buy one by mistake. Instead, it may become soggy.
A whole melon will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. However, once the melon is cut, the time it will stay fresh in the refrigerator is shortened to only 3 to 4 days.
Hungry for more fun food facts? Check out of Nutrition Factors Watermellon Page
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