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Watermelon: The super fruit

Have you ever wondered why so many people crave for watermelon and why it is a favourite fruit for many? It is because watermelon is a super nutritious fruit in every sense of the word.
Watermelon, botanically known as citrullus lanatus, is a native of Africa, originating in the Southern African region. It is a popular fruit in Nigeria. Watermelon grows well in temperate regions, which explains why it grows very well in Northern Nigeria states, such as Plateau, where the climate is less hot. However, watermelon can be cultivated in any part of Nigeria if adequate soil moisture is maintained. It is said that watermelon grew wildly in the African forest over 1000 years ago, from where it was transported to Asia and America, and other parts of the world. Watermelon has been selected and produced as a hybrid, which has resulted in the bigger and sweeter variety that is popular today.
The outer rind of watermelon fruit is green, hard and thick and slightly sour in taste, while the interior is red or pink, succulent and sweet, but not sugary in taste, and contains many seeds. Watermelon is most nutritious when it is fully ripe. For this reason, very ripe watermelon is best if one wants to get its full medicinal values.
Watermelon is known to be very high in Beta-carotene and lycopene when it is very ripe. The rind is also said to be edible, preferably after boiling. A lot of people have asked me if it safe to blend the rind and seeds of watermelon and drink. The answer is yes. There is no harm in blending both the seeds and the rinds of the ripe watermelon fruit. Note however, that apart from the fibre and roughage, there is little nutrients in the rinds. The ripe interior is the most nutritious and beneficial part of the fruit.

Watermelon is rich in vitamins A, B6, C, calcium, magnesium, protein, potassium, niacin and thiamine. However, lycopene, which is also present in tomato, is the most well-known phytonutrient present in watermelon. Watermelon is made up of 92 per cent water, has little or no fat, is low in sodium and also low in calories.  Fruits like watermelon allow the human body to function optimally because of the high contents of antioxidants. Antioxidants are good protection against cancer, arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure, while Amino Acids boost the body’s immune system, thereby protecting against all forms of diseases. Lycopene, which is also present in tomatoes, grapefruits and guava, is beneficial for a healthy heart, strong bone, and helps to prevent prostate cancer.
To really maximise your lycopene intake, let your watermelon fully ripen. The redder your watermelon gets, the higher the concentration of lycopene becomes. Beta-carotene and phenolic antioxidant content also increase as the watermelon ripens. Watermelon seeds are also very nutritious, especially if they are sprouted and shelled. They are high in protein, magnesium, vitamin B and good fats. But do not substitute the seeds or the rinds for the fruit itself. Other benefits of watermelon are:

Treats kidney disorders
Watermelons contain a lot of potassium, which is very helpful in cleaning out the toxic depositions in the kidney. Moreover, they are helpful in reducing the concentration of uric acid in the blood, thereby reducing the chances of kidney damage and the formation of renal calculi in that organ. In addition to this, being high in water content, watermelons induce frequent urinating, which is again helpful for cleaning of the kidneys. Also, the antioxidants present in watermelon ensure good health of the kidneys for a long time and reduce signs of premature aging like wrinkles and age spots on the skin.
Prevents heat stroke
Watermelon is effective in reducing both your body temperature and blood pressure. Many people in tropical regions eat this fruit every day in the afternoon during summer to protect themselves from heat stroke. The high amount of water in watermelon also stimulates a release of excess liquid in

Regulates blood pressure
The amount of potassium and magnesium present in watermelons is very beneficial in terms of lowering blood pressure. Potassium is considered a vasodilator, meaning that it releases the tension on blood vessels and arteries, thereby stimulating blood flow and reducing the stress on the cardiovascular system. The carotenoids present in these fruits also prevent hardening of artery walls and veins, thereby helping to reduce blood pressure and the chances of blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, and atherosclerosis.

Prevents cancer
Watermelons have gained a lot of attention in recent years, primarily because of their impressive level of lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient compound that is increasingly being linked to cancer prevention. Lycopene has been shown to significantly reduce the risks of prostate, breast, colon, lung, and endometrial cancer. All in all, between the antioxidant potential of vitamin C and the impact of lycopene, watermelon is a great anti-cancer fruit!

Controls diabetes
Diabetics, who are supposed to have a low energy and low sugar diet, often complain about starving since they don’t get to eat their staple diets, which gives them the feeling of being half-fed. Watermelons can be a good supplement for them. In spite of being sweet in taste, a thick wedge will give them very few calories, since 99 per cent of its total weight is composed of water and roughage. Moreover, the vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and magnesium, help in proper functioning of insulin in the body, thus lowering the blood sugar level. Arginine, another component found in watermelons, is very effective at enhancing the impact of insulin on blood sugar. Diabetics can also have curries, steaks, and salads made from watermelon rinds, which are even lower in sugar.

 

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Online Editor: Aderonke Bello
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