Watermelon: more than just a fruit

During the hot summer months, chilled watermelon is one of the most refreshing fruits you can think of.  Here in Malta, families and friends organise beach BBQs throughout summer.  They make the most of the balmy summer evenings with picnic coolers full of food – meat, fish, salads, beer, wine, nuts etc. – and head to their favourite beach (which is only a short distance away).

If the evening is hot and sticky they go for a dip before they light up … the smell of smoked food fills the air.  They eat and drink … and as the last cinders die out between the charcoal, out comes the watermelon from the cooler.  It is cut up in slices and everyone helps themselves.  They’re stuffed, but no BBQ is complete without the sweet, refreshing taste of a ripe watermelon.

Fruit or Veg?

Watermelon is generally thought of as a fruit.  But, according to some interesting facts I came across, watermelon is also a vegetable. It is related to cucumbers, pumpkin and squash.  Did you know you can eat the seeds and the rind of the watermelon?  I have never tried it myself, but studies show that if you blitz the rind with lime juice, you end up with a very refreshing treat full of the amino-acid Citrulline which, is very good for your heart and to maintain your immune system.

In Southern United States, the rind is stir-fried, stewed or pickled and in the Vietnamese culture, the seeds of the watermelon are used in the New Year.

Do you know where the watermelon came from?

GeoffreyNdung’u - watermelon in fields

It was the Moors who introduced the watermelon to Europe.  The fruit is a native of South Africa where it grows wild.  In the second millennium BC, it was grown around the Nile Valley and seeds of the watermelon were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Today, China is the biggest producer of watermelons.

There are more than 1200 varieties of watermelon.  The size of a fruit ranges from under one kilogram to over 90.  The flesh and the rind vary in colour.  The flesh of the watermelon comes in red, orange, yellow or white and the rind comes in yellow, dark green stripped and other colours.

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Is watermelon good for you?

Watermelon is 91% water but it is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and lycopene – a carotenoid antioxidant which decreases the risk of strokes and has potential anti-cancer activity.

Watermelon has a number of health benefits, which makes it good for you, but as always, eat it in moderation.  Go easy cause watermelon contains plenty of sugar (fructose).

How can you use watermelon?

Watermelon can be used both as dessert and as a salad ingredient.

It goes very well with herbs such as mint and basil and it also works well with certain types of cheeses.  Try this three melon and mozzarella salad or this Asian burger with minted watermelon.

For a refreshing drink, try this watermelon-lime cooler or watermelon jelly.  And for the little ones … how about watermelon lime ginger pops?

Keep cool this summer with one of nature’s gifts – a thirsty-quenching, refreshing watermelon.

If you would like to find out more about the health benefits of watermelons, go to 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Watermelon by Dr Mercola or for interesting facts check out Watermelon on Wiki.


My thanks go to:

  • Mercola.com
  • Wikipedia
  • Google images