The healthy gift of watermelon:
Nothing says you care like the gift of a small watermelon. At least that’s the custom in China where the offer of this red-fleshed cucurbit (melon, pumpkin, gourd family) is considered a fine way to please a gracious host or ill friend. It seems there is more to this Chinese custom than just great taste. Watermelon’s nutrition profile is sending this kid-friendly delight to “super-food” status. In addition to being a perfect hydrator (after all, it’s 92% water), watermelon is packed with nutrients including the antioxidant lycopene, vitamin C, thiamin and vitamin B6, vitamin A, pantothenic acid, magnesium and potassium.
Recent studies on the health benefits of watermelon are even more encouraging. Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service in Oklahoma, have confirmed that watermelon is an excellent source of the amino acid citrulline. The human body uses cirtrulline to make another important amino acid â€“ arginine â€“ which plays a key role in cell division and wound healing.
Choosing the perfect melon is easy, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board. First, choose one that is symmetrical and firm, without bruises, cuts or dents. Next, pick it up. You’re looking for one that is heavy for its size. Finally, turn it over. If you see a yellow area, the watermelon rested on the ground while it ripened in the sun, which means you’ll get a sweeter, juicer melon. Contrary to popular belief, don’t thump your melon â€“ slap it. If it sounds hollow, it’s ripe.