Name the fruit or vegetable with the highest lycopene content.
If you answered watermelon, go to the head of the class or give yourself a pat on the back for stating the obvious.
Two cups of watermelon contain 18 mg of lycopene. Compare that with 1 medium sized tomato with 4 mg and you do the math.
Why all the hype about lycopene ?
Preliminary research with processed tomatoes and tomato products shows that lycopene may provide a preventative effect against certain types of cancer, including esophageal and prostate, as well as against heart disease and stroke.
Cooked tomato products, red grapefruit, and watermelon are all great choices. But if you want the biggest lycopene hit for your nutritional buck that tastes like summer itself, pick watermelon.
Wait, there’s more….
Watermelon is also an excellent source of citrulline, an important amino acid. The human body uses citrulline to make another important amino acid – arginine – which plays a key role in cell division, wound healing and the removal of ammonia. Watermelon has an abundant source of readily usable citrulline stores.
It’s also a source of potassium, a mineral which is necessary for the water balance found in each and every cell. And if all of that isn’t good enough – it also contains Vitamin A, B6, and C. An outstanding score card for one cup of yummy thirst quenching fruit.
How do you choose a good watermelon?
Look for a firm watermelon that is free from bruises and dents.
Pick it up and feel it’s weight. A really juicy watermelon will be heavy for it’s size. Some people knock on them, listening for a certain thudding noise. The problem is most people don’t actually know what they are supposed to be hearing.
Lifting it to feel how heavy it is, is a much better method. I’ve lost count on how many times people have asked me mid lift how I pick a good watermelon.
Turn it over to see if there is a creamy yellow spot on the underside. This will indicate that it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun, which is a very good thing if you’re a watermelon.
Bring your perfect watermelon home and store it on the counter for up to 3 days. Pop it into the fridge for a cooling off time the day before you’re going to serve it.
We eat so much watermelon in the summer that I bring one home from the store, wash it well, cut off the rind, and then cut the watermelon into chunks, storing it in a container in the fridge. I find that if it’s cut up and ready to go, my family will eat it. Sort of like that famous line from the movie Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come.” Mine is “If you cut it, they will eat it.” Okay, not as poetic, but it works.
To watch Dina and I on Breakfast TV in Toronto carving watermelons last year, check this out.
For everything you ever wanted to know about watermelon including how to carve one go to www.watermelon.org
Bonus: here’s my favourite Watermelon Salad