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Watermelon: the Elixir of Summer

Watermelon Summer Fruit
Image by Supriya Aggarwal

Watermelon can easily quench the summer thirst. The fruit is particularly popular in the hot, dry regions of north India – even though it is widely available almost all through the year in other parts of India.

Watermelon is botanically identified as Citrullus vulgaris is believed to have been a native of tropical Africa. The fruit is known in Hindi as Tharbhuj or Tarbuz. This fruit is large and can achieve a diameter of even 20 inches! The bottle green outer rind covers a fleshy portion which is soft and spongy. The pulp is most often reddish pink with large black seeds embedded towards the centre. Some varieties have a creamy white pulp but the pink fruit is preferred because it is sweeter.

In some hilly areas, a bitter variety is grown. Watermelon is valued for its medicinal properties, for it is considered a diuretic, it helps in proper excretion of urine and prevents water retention.

Watermelon is a good source of pectin. Hence the fruit can easily be made into jams, jellies and marmalades. In parts of South India and West Bengal, the rind of the watermelon is also used to make a sumptuous and healthy curry – consumed with rice – to cool the body down during the hot summer months.

The inner portion of the dark coloured watermelon seeds is parched and eaten. The seeds are considered to have a cooling effect. They contain omega-6 fats, a good source of B complex vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, iron, potassium and copper. These seeds may be added in small quantity to benefit from their vitamin and mineral content. However, large quantities will increase omega 6 fats and reduce the benefits of omega-3 fats by disrupting the omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratio.

Guidelines for consumption

  • Fruits are best eaten in the first half of the day keeping in mind their sugar content.
  • Consume the fruit instead of fruit juice.
  • Consume it early morning or as a filler in mid-morning.
  • Avoid having it with or over a meal.
  • Consumption of the fruit is strictly dependent on the fitness goal or health.

Nutritive value per 100 gm of watermelon

Moisture: 95.8 per cent
Energy: 17 kcal
Carotene: 169
Vitamin C: 26mg
Calcium: 32 mg
Phosphorus: 14 mg

Health Benefits:

  1. It is rich in antioxidants. It helps the body to function at an optimal level.
  2. Lycopene present in this fruit has anti-inflammatory properties.
  3. It helps in hydration.
  4. It contains vitamin A and C which are beneficial for skin and hair health.

 

 

 

Text by Karishma Chawla
Nutritionist, Eat Rite 24×7, Mumbai

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