Watermelons are typical summer fruit – juicy, sweet and refreshing. They can be round, oblong or spherical in shape and feature thick green rinds that are often spotted or striped, with juicy flesh inside. The flesh may contain seeds, usually dark brown, black or white in colour, but seedless varieties are also available. The seeds are rich in fat and protein, and are widely eaten as a snack, added to other dishes, or used as an oilseed. Watermelons range in size from a few pounds up to ninety pounds.
Watermelons are about 90% water, and a one cup of this fruit is about 50 calories. Apart from the water and sugar, watermelons are actually packed with some of the most important antioxidants in nature.
Watermelons are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, notably through its concentration of beta-carotene. It also provides significant amounts of vitamin B6 and vitamin B1, as well as the minerals potassium and magnesium and is cholesterol free.
Watermelon is also a very concentrated source of the carotenoid – lycopene. In fact, watermelon is the lycopene leader in fresh produce, having higher concentrations of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable. Fresh watermelon contains higher levels of lycopene than fresh tomatoes. Lycopene is well known for being abundant in tomatoes and particularly well absorbed from cooked tomato products containing a little fat such as olive oil, lycopene is also present in high amounts in watermelon and mangoes. Lycopene has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. In contrast to many other food phytonutrients, and has been found to be protective against a growing list of cancers such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancers.