WISE NOTES FOR CONSUMERS

Watermelon: Tasty, nutritious

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, July 17, 2013

It’s summertime, so of course it’s also watermelon time. Other than a great taste, what are some nutritional benefits to watermelon? Information compiled by Ohio State Extension Food, Nutrition and Wellness Department has interesting facts about one of the summer’s most popular fruits.

Watermelon is more than 90 percent water. Still, two cups of diced watermelon is a great source of vitamin C, a good source of vitamin A, as well as being fat free and cholesterol free; all for a mere 85 calories. Watermelon is also a good source of lycopene, which protects against prostate cancer and possibly other cancers. It also protects cells from damage associated with heart disease.

Part of the challenge with watermelon is choosing one that’s ripe. That’s not always easy to figure out. Here are some suggestions:

Examine the rind and find the spot where the melon had been resting on the ground – it should be yellow-white. If it’s white or pale green, it was picked too early.

Scratch the surface of the rind with your thumbnail. If the outer layer slips back with little resistance showing the green-white under the rind, the watermelon is ripe. If all you get is a darker depressed line, the melon isn’t ripe.

When purchasing cut watermelon, look for more red flesh and less white rind to find riper melons. White seeds usually indicate the melon was picked too early – unless you’re looking at a seedless watermelon.

If you think your watermelon isn’t quite ripe yet, keep it at room temperature for a few days. It will continue to ripen if it’s not too mature. But only whole, uncut watermelon should be left unrefrigerated. Once it’s cut, watermelon needs to be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

Before cutting into watermelon (or any melon), be sure to thoroughly rinse it under clean, running water. You may even want to scrub it with a soft-bristled brush while rinsing. This will help remove any contaminants on the rind that could spread to the fruit inside when you slice through it.

Watermelon is wonderful eaten alone or added to fruit salads, cool drinks, desserts or even salsas. I hope you’ll try the tasty recipe that follows.

SOUTH-OF-THE-BORDER WATERMELON SALSA

Number of servings: 4

  • 2 c. seedless watermelon, chopped
  • 3/4 c. sweet onion, chopped
  • 3/4 c. black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 c. jalapeno pepper, chopped and seeded
  • 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • pinch of salt

In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour to blend flavors. Stir before serving. Serve with chips.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories 90, total fat 1 g (1% DV), saturated fat 0 g (0% DV), cholesterol 0 mg (0% DV), sodium 440 mg (18% DV), total carbohydrate 19 g (6% DV), dietary fiber 4 g (16% DV), sugars 10 g, protein 4 g, vitamin A 15%, vitamin C 15%, calcium 4%, iron 8%

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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