WATERMELON - A Summers Delight
Written by Administrator   

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus, family Cucurbitaceae) is a vine-like flowering plant thought to have originated in southern Africa, where it is found growing wild. It reaches maximum genetic diversity there, with sweet, bland and bitter forms. Watermelon is also mentioned in the Bible as a food eaten by the ancient Israelites while they were in bondage in Egypt. In the 7th century, watermelons were being cultivated in India and by the 10th century had reached China, which is today the world's single largest watermelon producer. Much research effort has been put into breeding disease-resistant varieties and into developing a seedless strain. Nowadays a large number of cultivars are available, many of them producing mature fruit within 100 days of planting the crop.

The watermelon is an annual plant with long, weak, trailing or climbing stems which are five-angled and up to 3 m (10 ft) long. Young growth is densely woolly with yellowish-brown hairs which disappear as the plant ages. The leaves are stemmed and are alternate, large and pinnately-lobed, stiff and rough when old. The plant has branching tendrils. The flowers grow singly in the leaf axils and the corolla is white or yellow inside and greenish-yellow on the outside. Wild plants have fruits up to 20 cm (8 in) in diameter while cultivated varieties may exceed 60 cm (24 in). The rind of this fruit is mid- to dark green and usually mottled or striped, and the flesh contains numerous pips and is red, orange, pink, yellow, green or white.
Watermelons are tropical or subtropical plants and need temperatures higher than about 25 °C (77 °F) to thrive.
 
 

 

Nutritional benefits
One cup of diced watermelon (152 grams) contains 43 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2 grams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrate (including 9 grams of sugar) and 1 gram of fiber. One cup of watermelon will provide 17% of vitamin A, 21% of vitamin C, 2% of iron and 1% of calcium needs for the day.
Watermelon also contains thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, lycopene and betaine. Despite being a great source of the above nutrients, watermelon is made up of 92% water.
Possible health benefits
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like watermelon decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.
Asthma prevention: The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients. One of these nutrients is vitamin C, found in many fruits and vegetables including watermelon.
Blood pressure: A study published by the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon extract supplementation reduced ankle blood pressure, brachial blood pressure and carotid wave reflection in obese middle-aged adults with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension and that watermelon extract improved arterial function. Diets rich in lycopene may help protect against heart disease.
Cancer: As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C as well as other antioxidants, watermelon can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. Lycopene intake has been linked with a decreased risk of prostate cancer in several studies.
Digestion and regularity: Watermelon, because of its water and fiber content, helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
Hydration: Made up of 92% water and full of important electrolytes, watermelon is a great snack to have on hand during the hot summer months to prevent dehydration.
Inflammation: Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in watermelon that aids our bodies in sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.
Muscle soreness: Watermelon and watermelon juice have been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time following exercise in athletes. Researchers believe this is likely due to the amino acid L-citrulline contained in watermelon.
Skin: Watermelon is also great for your skin because it contains vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production that keeps hair moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.
Adequate intake of vitamin C (one cup of watermelon provides 21% of daily needs) is also needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair. Watermelon also contributes to overall hydration, which is vital for having healthy looking skin and hair.
How to incorporate more watermelon into your diet:
Always look for a watermelon that is firm, heavy and symmetrical without soft spots or bruising. Place diced watermelon and a few ice cubes in a blender for a cold refreshing treat that's perfect for rehydrating after exercise or a day in the sun.
Potential health risks
It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.
 
Dr Chander Shekhar Sharma & Dr Amrita Sharma
Associate professor (deptt. Kayachikitsa)
Dayanand Ayurvedic college,
Jalandhar. Mob.:9417785411