It’s finally summer!  On a hot summer day, one of the most common go-to treats is watermelon. Loved by most due to its sweet taste, watermelon is the perfect choice when the temperatures soar high as it provides a good amount of water in each bite.  The great news is that watermelon is made up of much more than just water and sugar.  It is actually a dense food that contains a high amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with a low amount of calories.

Watermelon is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family and is related to cantaloupes, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, and gourds that all grow on vines.  Watermelons can be oblong or spherical in shape and feature a thick, green rind that is often spotted or striped.  Watermelons vary in size and there are many different varieties of watermelon worldwide.  The most common color of watermelon is deep red-pink, however, it may also display an orange, yellow, or white flesh interior.

The history of watermelon is generally believed to have originated in Africa thousands of years ago.  It traveled over time from Africa to Asia, Europe and North America.  It was not until Europeans began to colonize in North America that watermelons arrived in the United States.

As mentioned earlier, watermelon is a reliable fruit source of many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is a very good supplier of vitamin C and other nutrients including pantothenic acid, zinc, copper, biotin, potassium, beta-carotene, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, fatty acids, amino acids and much more!  Recent studies have confirmed the importance of allowing a watermelon to fully ripen to reap the most nutrients out of it.

Specific research has shown that the biggest jump in lycopene content occurs at the time when a watermelon’s flesh turns from white-pink to pink and then from pink to red.  Lycopene is a carotenoid phytonutrient that’s especially important for prostate, bone and cardiovascular health.  Alongside tomatoes, watermelon has moved up to the front line in studies on high-lycopene foods. Many studies have suggested that increasing the consumption of watermelon decreases the chances of being overweight and can prevent body fat accumulation, diabetes, inflammation, muscle soreness and improve cardiovascular benefits. Healthy skin and hair, increased energy and asthma are other perks of this wonder fruit.  Because of its water and fiber content, watermelon helps to prevent constipation and aids in regularity for a healthy digestive tract.

Overall, watermelon is a great snack to have on hand during the hot summer months to prevent dehydration and kids love it! Enjoy your summer!