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All about “Watermelon”

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Nutritional value of watermelon

  Raw watermelon, 125 ml (½ cup) diced / 80 g
Calories 24
Protein 0.5 g
Carbohydrates 6.1 g
Lipids 0.1 g
Dietary fiber 0.3 g
Glycemic load  : Low
Antioxidant power: Low

Sources  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2010.

Watermelon health profile

  The watermelon or watermelon , has a taste refreshing thirst-quenching. Red or pink , white or yellow , its flesh is an important source of lycopene , an antioxidant that is said to protect against several diseases. The seeds of watermelon are edible and provide the vitamin C .

The benefits of watermelon

  • Cancer. According to the results of a study, a large consumption of watermelon is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer 12 .
  • Hypertension. A pilot study has shown that the consumption of powdered watermelon supplements improved arterial function in individuals with hypertension 22 .

Several prospective and epidemiological studies have shown that a high consumption of fruits and vegetables decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease 20 , certain cancers 21 and other chronic diseases , 2,19 . The presence of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables may play a role in these protective effects.

What does watermelon contain?

The main antioxidant compounds in watermelon are carotenoids , especially lycopene, and to a lesser extent beta-carotene 4 . The consumption of foods rich in carotenoids, which give the fruit the vivid color, is linked to a lower risk of suffering from certain cancers 5 . Carotenoids are best absorbed in the body when a small amount of lipids (fat) is consumed at the same time 6 . A piece of cheese or a few nuts make a great accompaniment to watermelon.

Lycopene . Lycopene is the main carotenoid in watermelon. Among other things, it has a cholesterol lowering effect , it prevents inflammation and it prevents the formation of certain types of cancer cells , 23,24 . High levels of lycopene in the blood have also been associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease 9 and prostate cancer 10 .

Lycopene from cut watermelon: best before …
If you want to cut your watermelon in advance, you should preferably consume it within 4 days . According to one study, the lycopene content of a chopped watermelon decreases from 6% to 11% after 7 days in the refrigerator 18 . On the other hand, this loss of lycopene is minor during the first 4 days.

Although current data is not sufficient to define a daily lycopene intake to consume, epidemiological studies indicate that consuming more than 6 mg of lycopene per day may have beneficial effects 13 . A 125 ml (1/2 cup) serving of watermelon contains approximately 3.5 mg of lycopene, which is approximately the same amount as a medium tomato, which is known to be an important source of lycopene 14 . The lycopene content of watermelons of different cultivars varies widely, reaching up to 8 mg of lycopene per 125 ml serving 15. In addition, lycopene from watermelon is well absorbed in the body, since it increases the concentration of lycopene in the blood, just as much as tomato juice 16 . Note that unlike other carotenoids, lycopene does not have the ability to transform into vitamin A in the body 7 . More studies will be needed in order to know more precisely the bioavailability of lycopene in watermelon to prevent certain diseases.

Citrulline and Arginine
Watermelon is one of the foods richest in citrulline, an amino acid. In the human body, citrulline is converted to arginine (an essential amino acid), which plays a role on the cardiovascular and immune systems, which would have beneficial effects on the health of blood vessels 26 . The watermelon flesh orange or yellow usually contain more than flesh red 25 . According to a study, the daily consumption of watermelon juice could increase the levels of arginine in the blood plasma in humans 27 .

Main vitamins and minerals

  Vitamin C Watermelon is a source of vitamin C.


Note. The classification of nutrient sources is based on serving size. Thus, consumed in greater quantity , watermelon becomes a source of several important nutrients. For example, 250 ml (1 cup) of watermelon – which equals 2 servings, according to Canada’s Food Guide – are a source of magnesium , copper , vitamin A, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B6 ( pyridoxine).


Oral allergy syndrome
Watermelon is one of the foods that can be implicated in oral allergy syndrome . This syndrome is an allergic reaction to certain proteins in a range of fruits, vegetables and nuts. It affects some people with allergies to environmental pollens and is almost always preceded by hay fever . So, when some people with ragweed allergies consume watermelon raw (cooking usually breaks down allergenic proteins), an immunological reaction may occur. These people suffer from itching and burning sensations in the mouth, lips and throat. The symptomsmay appear and then disappear, usually within a few minutes of consuming or touching the offending food. In the absence of other symptoms, this reaction is not serious and the consumption of watermelon should not be avoided systematically. However, it is recommended to consult an allergist to determine the cause of the reactions to plant foods. The latter will be able to assess whether special precautions should be taken.

In humans, the citrulline in watermelon is converted to arginine, an essential amino acid. Hyperargininaemia (excess argine) is a rare genetic disorder caused by a deficiency in a liver enzyme called arginase. It can lead to neurological damage 29 . It is recommended that people with the condition restrict their arginine intake and therefore limit the consumption of watermelon 28 .

Recipe ideas

The surprising grilled watermelon
  • Watermelon is best enjoyed cold on a hot day … without adding any seasoning.
  • An original fruit salad . Divide a watermelon in half by cutting it into serrated lines. Take the flesh with a Parisian spoon. Put the small balls thus formed with other fresh fruit in the empty rind, which thus acts as a bowl.
  • Cut it into slices, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with a drizzle of olive oil and serve with goat cheese broken up into thin slices.
with watermelon
  • Healthy sorbet , ice cream or granita . Cut the watermelon into cubes and freeze them for at least 1 hour. Take them out of the freezer, let them soften for a few minutes, then put them in a blender with unsweetened concentrated grape juice and 1 or 2 tbsp. of lime juice. Serve in cups with a mint or lemon balm leaf.
  • Pass it in a blender with yogurt, a little sugar, cardamom powder and a pinch of salt. Serve in a glass with a slice of lemon and lime and, if desired, a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • In jams .
  • Slice it up and grill or BBQ for 10 to 15 seconds before serving.
  • In fried donuts , like in China.
  • The bark can be candied .

Choice and conservation

To access other recipes, you can go to the CuisineAZ.com cooking recipes site, which offers the following recipes, among others: watermelon jam, watermelon-based recipes , watermelon soup

To choose

Choosing a perfectly ripe watermelon is not easy . The watermelon should be heavy for its size, and its skin shiny . Part of the rind should be yellow, indicating that the fruit is ripe.

In the West, the fruit is often sold in sections , which allows the consumer to see the flesh and assess the quality of the fruit before purchasing it.

To preserve

The whole watermelon does not like the cold. It is best to keep it cool , but out of the refrigerator, ideally at temperatures around 15 ° C to 20 ° C. At room temperature, it will keep for 1 week to 10 days if not overripe.

Freezer . Cut the watermelon into slices or cubes, or scoop out small balls with a Parisian spoon and place in a freezer bag. You can also extract the juice and freeze it.

The little story of watermelon

Common names: watermelon, watermelon.

Scientific name: Citrullus lanatus , formerly C. vulgaris . Family  : cucurbits.

In 1949, the first varieties of seedless watermelon were released in the United States. It was a revolution in the history of this fruit and a clear advantage! In fact, unlike the seeds of melon, which are concentrated in the central cavity, those of watermelon are dispersed throughout the flesh. Removing them one by one is rather tedious.

The term ”  watermelon  ” appeared in the French language in 1512. Before reaching its current form, the word has undergone a long evolution, from the Arabic al-Bâtikha , through Hindi and Portuguese.

In Quebec, the term “ watermelon ” is used more   , probably under the influence of the English watermelon .

Like melon, watermelon comes from Central Africa, where there are still wild varieties . In ancient times it was cultivated in the Middle East, India and what is now Russia. Since time immemorial, it has been appreciated in hot countries where it plays a leading role when water is scarce or when it is polluted. It is thanks to its resistant rind that watermelon can grow in areas where other foods high in water (tomatoes, strawberries, celery) cannot survive.

In Egypt, more than 5,000 years ago, peasants were required to offer watermelon to thirsty travelers. We are hardly surprised when we know that it is composed of 92% water . In fact, some varieties are only cultivated for the purpose of quenching thirst. Since there are bitter and sweet types, it is customary to poke a hole in the fruit and taste it before tasting it.

With seeds
In several countries, we select the watermelons so that they produce a maximum of large seeds . In Africa, these are considered a food in themselves since they are extremely rich in protein, carbohydrates and lipids. Elsewhere, we get an edible oil. In India, it is made into a flour for bread. In Asia, they are eaten roasted and salted.

Known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, watermelon was preferred over melon. It will be introduced in Spain by the Moors in VIII th  and IX th  century. It will take longer to reach the rest of Europe, possibly because the varieties of the time absolutely needed warm temperatures to grow. The botanists of the XVI E  and XVII E  centuries will describe many varieties giving fruits with red, pink, orange, yellow and white flesh, and of round or oblong shape. In short, all the types that we know today.

It will be introduced into America by the Spaniards on the one hand, and black slaves on the other. From north to south, the Indians will quickly adopt, including the Hurons of eastern Canada, which from the XVI th  century, reserve a place in their gardens.

Grown in all warm regions of the globe, watermelon is also found in family gardens in colder countries. We surround it with a thousand cares for the pleasure of tasting, if only one of its fruits, ripe and full of sunshine. In commerce, it is generally classified into three categories according to its weight: small (from 1.5 to 3 kg), medium (from 3 to 8 kg) and large (from 8 to 11 kg).

Organic gardening

You will be successful growing watermelon if you stick to some basic principles.

  • In temperate climates, choose early varieties so the fruit has time to ripen before freezing. Midget and Icebox types are well suited for northern regions.
  • Choose the warmest and sunniest corner of the garden. The optimum temperatures for growing her are 24 ° C to 26 ° C.
  • Form ridges 20 cm to 40 cm high and 2 m apart. Ideally, you will have trained them the previous fall.
  • Make sure the soil is warmed up well before planting. Put a sheet of black plastic a few days in advance to warm it up further.
  • If the garden is exposed to the wind, protect the square with artificial windbreaks .
  • The  ideal pH is between 6 and 6.8, but watermelon can tolerate a pH below 6.
  • Dig a good hole in the mound and fill with compost or a good decomposed manure. If necessary, add a natural potassium fertilizer.

It is possible to sow in the ground, but many prefer to start their plants indoors, 3 or 4 weeks before planting. Sow in individual containers. Watermelon, like all plants of the Cucurbitaceae family , hates having its roots disturbed. Transplant with the utmost delicacy.

Keep the young plants warm by protecting them with a tunnel made of plastic or agrotextile fabric. Do not remove it until the temperature remains above 15 ºC.

Be sure to irrigate regularly, but not excessively until the moment of fruit formation. At this time, it will be necessary to increase the water supply. Interrupt irrigation a few days before harvest.

Unlike melon, watermelon does not require pruning.

The striped leaf beetle is the most feared pest in temperate climates. Protect the plants with an agro textile fabric until flowering. Thereafter, in case of severe infestation, treat with rotenone.

Ecology and environment

During the last century, ozone concentrations have increased sharply in Europe, particularly in the countries of the South, where watermelon is cultivated on a large scale. However, since 1976, numerous Spanish studies carried out in the region of the Ebro Delta, in Catalonia, have revealed the damage that ozone causes to watermelons 30 . Plant responses to this air pollutant can be acute (leaf damage) or chronic (decreased growth and yield).

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