Watermelon is one of the most popular fruits in the warmer months, and today just happens to be National Watermelon Day! If you ever wanted to learn more about the deliciously juicy fruit, keep on reading!

Did You Know…

Before the present-day watermelon came to be, its predecessor was extremely bitter with hard, green flesh. It originated in Africa, though the exact location is not known, and remnants and paintings of it have been found all over the continent.

Because the first watermelon was so bitter and difficult to eat, scientists wondered why earlier humans had even developed it at all. The answer lies in its name: water. Because of its heavy water content, watermelons could remain edible for weeks or even months when kept in a cool, shaded area.

Watermelons were brought on long voyages as a safe source of water, which spread them throughout the world. The first trait they worked on changing was the taste, and throughout the next 5,000 years, the watermelon developed into the sweet, red treat that we have today.

Health Benefits

Because watermelons are rich in fiber and water, they help promote bowel regularity and improve digestion overall. Eating a watermelon is a great (and tasty) way to help prevent dehydration, which is more of a risk during the summer season. Along with its water content, this melon is rich in other important electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium, providing adequate hydration when we need it most.

The fiber content also supports healthy blood sugar levels, and it will not contribute to a blood sugar high or crash later in the day. It also contains choline, an important nutrient that aids our bodies in sleep and muscle movement.

Watermelons are also great sources of vitamins A (17% RDA per cup) and C (21% RDA per cup), which aid in healthy skin and hair. Vitamin A promotes sebum production needed for smooth skin and soft, shiny hair, and vitamin C is necessary in the production of collagen, which provides a strong structure to skin and hair.

Finding the Perfect Melon

There are actually five types of watermelon: seeded, seedless, mini, yellow, and orange, and each color contains different antioxidants crucial to a healthy body.

To find a ripe watermelon, look for one without bruising or soft spots, and lift it up. It should feel heavy for its size no matter how big it is; the heavier it is, the juicier it will be. When watermelons are grown, they rest on the ground and develop a light splotch from lack of sunlight. When this splotch is creamy yellow, the fruit is ripe. Finally, tap the fruit and listen to the sound. A ripe melon will sound hollow and empty, while an unripe melon will sound dull.

Adding Watermelon to Your Diet

Watermelon is an easy improvement to your current diet, and every part of the melon is useful. Freeze it on a popsicle stick for a healthy frozen treat, or blend it into a smoothie with coconut water and ice to rehydrate the body and replenish electrolytes.

A simple salad is easy to make with spinach, watermelon chunks, feta cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette, which provides the body with calcium, fat, and protein. Though they are an uncommon choice, the seeds of the melon will roast in the oven just like pumpkin seeds. With salt and pepper to taste, they are a delicious and filling snack to replace unhealthy choices.

Slice the rind of the watermelon into small pieces, and use them in a stir fry with vegetables and a protein source for an easy and healthy summer meal. If you are feeling creative, carve the rind into fun shapes and designs for a perfect party centerpiece.

With its long history, numerous health benefits, and many simple recipes, the watermelon is a perfect food to celebrate. Though National Watermelon Day is not as well-known as other holidays, it is a great excuse to incorporate more of the nutritious fruit into your daily life. Improve your hydration, support your collagen, and manage your blood sugar by eating more watermelon this summer.

Sources:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/150821-watermelon-fruit-history-agriculture/

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266886.php

http://www.thekitchn.com/the-best-way-to-pick-a-watermelon-172375

http://www.watermelon.org/Recipes/Watermelon-Rind-Stir-Fry