Watermelons: Types, Health Benefits, and How to Pick a Good One
There are some interesting things about watermelons that might be surprising. For instance, most people refer to watermelon as a fruit. Actually, watermelons are members of the gourd family and are related to cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins. Therefore, it is not an actual fruit just as the other gourds are not fruits.
It is a refreshing and delicious food that has become a summer staple. You will see watermelons at cookouts, picnics, and parties.
The average American eats about 17 pounds of watermelon each year. This makes it the most consumed melon in the United States.
Types of Watermelons
You might see only one or two different kinds of watermelons in your local grocery stores. There are about 300 different kinds of watermelons in Mexico and the United States. However, only about 50 kinds are popular. Forty-four states grow watermelons. Leading the country in production are Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas.
The item is so appropriately named because it is made up of about 92 percent water. That's why they are so refreshing. The ones that most people buy are those that are red inside, but they also come in pink, white, and yellow varieties.
Sizes of Watermelons
Watermelons come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are quite large. County fairs award prizes for the biggest ones.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Chris Kent from Sevierville, Tennessee raised the world's biggest watermelon weighing in at 350.5 pounds. It was verified on October 4, 2013.
People who eat a lot of watermelons say watermelons with seeds are much sweeter than the seedless ones.
How Are Watermelons Eaten?
Even though watermelons are more plentiful during the summer, they are actually eaten all year long.
Watermelons can be eaten many different ways.
- Eaten plain by the slice
- Cooked on the grill
- Mixed into a salsa
- Part of a fruit salad
- Blended into a cocktail
Just one watermelon can feed up to three dozen people.
Different Uses for Watermelon
A watermelon is an excellent budget item. Just one can feed up to three dozen people. The cost is about 17 cents per serving.
There are many creative ways to use watermelons.
- Use the watermelon as a basket for serving salads or desserts.
- Use the watermelon as a centerpiece.
- Use a watermelon as a punch container.
- Put some color and flavor in fruit and gelatin salads by using watermelon balls.
- Cut watermelon into cubes and top with cottage cheese.
- Make a delicious salad with watermelon balls, chopped celery, and pecans whipped into softened cream cheese or whipped heavy cream.
- Freeze the juice from watermelons to make cool pops.
- Combine fresh melon and ham to serve as an appetizer.
- Eat a slice of watermelon for breakfast.
- Use watermelon rind to make pickles or preserves.
- Stir fry the rind.
- Slice the rind to use as coleslaw.
Health Benefits of Watermelons
Besides being good, watermelons are actually good for you to eat because of the health benefits.
- Source of Vitamin A
- Source Vitamin B6
- Source of Vitamin C
- Source of potassium
- Very low in sodium
- Contains only a small amount of fat
- Contains no cholesterol of dietary significance
- Has a high concentration of lycopene, an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of some diseases
- Has 82 percent of the total dietary fiber
- Has 92 percent water and 8 percent natural sugar
How to Pick a Good Watermelon
Even though you can't see what's inside of a watermelon before you purchase it, there are ways to pick a good one.
- Examine the watermelon. See if it is firm, symmetrical and free from cuts, bruises, holes, and dents.
- Discover how heavy it is by lifting it up. It should be heavy for its size because it is made up of 92 percent water.
- Check the underside of the watermelon. You should see a creamy yellow spot where it sat on the ground and ripened from the sun.
A watermelon is an all-American favorite, especially during the summer. Egyptians think so much of the food that they often placed a watermelon in the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife.