As I was eating a watermelon this morning, I thought, “Too many people only appreciate you little watermelon for your pink flesh. If only they knew who you really are and what you have to offer. Well dab-nabit, I need to let them know what they are missing!” So here goes 🙂
Watermelon is actually a close cousin to the squash family (think cucumber and zucchini) and similar to the squash family, not only is the inside flesh edible, but so are the seeds and the rind. I know what you are thinking right now and yes, you were wasting perfectly edible and nutritious food when you would stock pile the watermelon seeds in your cheek like a chipmunk waiting to spit them at one of your annoying siblings. And although your garden soil loved the fresh watermelon rinds, your body probably would have loved them too. In fact, watermelon seeds and rind are the most nutritionally dense parts of the whole fruit.
So, cue the awkward question: “Is watermelon a vegetable then?” No. Ahhh… sigh of relief. “But you said it was a cousin to the squash family, and those are all vegetables?” Well, guess what? Santa ain’t real and cucumbers and zucchinis are actually fruits! But that’s a post for another day… back to watermelon.
Although it is great fun shooting these black bullets at others, next time try eating a few first. Watermelon seeds are a great addition to the diet, especially those of us who choose not to eat animal products, as they are packed with protein. Just 1/8 of a cup boasts around 10 grams of readily available plant protein. Watermelon seeds also contain a myriad of micro nutrients. They are packed with B-vitamins as well as iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese. Watermelon seeds also contain healthy fats and some fiber. And if you really want to get fancy – and unlock even more nutrition – try sprouting the seeds first before you eat them.
Yeah it doesn’t taste as good as the colorful sweet middle, but what it may lack in taste, it makes up for in nutrition. That juicy white stuff contains concentrated amounts of citrulline, a nonessential amino acid that is later converted to first, another amino acid called arginine and second, to nitric oxide. Why do you care? Because nitric oxide helps relax blood vessels and maintain their elasticity, all which contributes to healthy blood flow and a happy heart. Some studies have even shown citulline to help boost libido and may help some men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction(1). If you are a guy and reading this, you probably are now on your way to the supermarket to pick up some watermelon 😉 The rind also contains the vitamins A, B’s, and C, along with the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. So keep digging down past the pink stuff and enjoy some of the white meat! For those really adventurous, I dare you to eat the green stuff too (try and get organic watermelon if you plan on making a habit out of it).
Yes, the flesh is pretty good too nutritionally speaking. Among many of the same vitamins and minerals mentioned in the rind and seed, the pink flesh is extremely high in lycopene, even beating out the famous tomato in lycopene concentration. Why do you care? Because lycopene is a powerful carotenoid antioxidant, even stronger than beta-carotene. Some studies show that the higher the level of lycopene in the blood, the less likely a stroke is to occur (2,3). Also, lycopene is an anti-inflammatory and has displayed anti-cancer effects.
Soooo… who’s up for some watermelon, seeds and all???