Watermelon: Refreshing and Versatile?>

Watermelon: Refreshing and Versatile

by Berkeley Wellness

Watermelon is so thoroughly associated with America and backyard barbecues that most people would be surprised to discover that this is a global fruit. Watermelon, a member of the gourd family, is thought to have originated in Africa. In ancient Egypt, watermelons were depicted in hieroglyphics, and sometimes placed in the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife. Today, China is the top watermelon producer in the world.

Because the flesh of this fruit is over 90 percent water, the watermelon was a valuable and portable source of nourishment and water for explorers, desert nomads, and dwellers living in arid regions where natural water was scarce or contaminated. Over the years, watermelons spread from the Mediterranean to China, and eventually through much of the world via trade routes, finally landing in America with the slave trade.

Types of Watermelons

Learn about the three main types of watermelon you'll find in stores, and what each is best for.

Watermelon: Nutrition

Watermelons—like many fruits—are a good source of vitamin C and are low in sodium. Ounce for ounce, this all-American favorite also contains nearly twice the amount of lycopene, a red-colored carotenoid, as raw tomatoes. Many studies have looked at whether there is a correlation between lycopene consumption and general good health. Researchers have also examined whether eating lycopene is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancers (notably prostate cancer). So far no credible evidence supports any of these hypothesized health benefits.

For a full listing of nutrients, see Watermelon in the National Nutrient Database.

How to Choose the Best Watermelon

Learn what to look for—and look out for—when shopping for watermelon.

How to store fresh watermelon

An uncut watermelon can, if necessary, be stored at room temperature for up to a week. In summer, when room temperatures can be quite warm, the fruit should be refrigerated or kept on ice. It takes 8 to 12 hours to chill a whole watermelon thoroughly. Cut watermelon should be wrapped and refrigerated.

How to use watermelon

To cut a watermelon into wedges for eating, halve the watermelon lengthwise, then halve each piece lengthwise again to give you four quarters. Cut each quarter-piece crosswise into wedge-shaped slices.

For salads, cut the watermelon in half lengthwise and use a melon baller to scoop out the flesh.

6 Ways to Serve Watermelon

Watermelon is more versatile than you might think, integrating nicely into drinks, salads, and even soups. Here are six delicious serving ideas.

News Republic