Hot weather got you down? Get some watermelon!
I know this sounds like a simplistic solution to the potential ill effects of heat. Hot weather calls for extra attention to hydration, but drinking more water all day can get boring. High water foods like melon contribute significant fluid, with the added bonus of nutrients. A cup of watermelon cubes contains about 1/2 cup of water, as well as:
- 45 calories
- 9-1/2 grams (just over 2 teaspoons) of sugar, more than half of it fructose
- 170 mg potassium
- 12 mg vitamin C
- 6900 micrograms of lycopene (6.9 mg)
- 0.6 grams fiber
- smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals
Watermelon is particularly high in the antioxidant lycopene. There is some evidence that lycopene has anti-inflammatory properties; the antioxidant effect may reduce risk for heart disease and cancer. What’s a good lycopene intake? There’s no consensus on ideal consumption, and no recommended daily intake. Many lycopene supplements contain from 5 mg to 25 mg. Tomatoes are also high lycopene; a cup of diced raw tomatoes has about 5 mg, similar to watermelon. A plant-based diet full of vegetables and fruit will be high in lycopene and all the other important polyphenols, making supplements unnecessary.
I only buy watermelon in summer, when it’s in season, and preferably grown locally. Watermelon that’s available in December or even April has been shipped hundreds or thousands of miles. It’s not about safety; it’s flavor. Summer fruit and vegetables are best in season. I’m happy to limit my enjoyment of melons and other summer fruit to the few weeks or months when they are at their best. Then I’m done until next year (the exception to this is certain frozen fruit, which can be a great choice in dreary winter months).
Nothing could be simpler than slicing a watermelon and eating a refreshing wedge. But there are other uses. It’s so juicy, it blends quickly, so cubes are a great addition to fruity smoothies, blended ice tea, or cocktails. You could just blend watermelon chunks with ice cubes and a squeeze of lime juice for aqua fresca.
Watermelon pairs nicely with other fruit, vegetables and cheese in salads. One popular recipe combines it with feta cheese and mint. Another recipe I’ve not tried yet (but will soon) is grilled watermelon wedges. It sounds really easy; I’m all for easy. The internet is fill of other ideas.
But I can’t use a whole watermelon!
Think again. A melon will keep for several days in the refrigerator. If you buy a modest sized one, use some every day. Eat as a snack, with meals, blended into drinks or added to salads. If you’re still worried, check out “personal sized watermelon”. I thought these were cute, smaller than a cantaloupe. However, I have no idea about flavor or texture.