The healthy gift of watermelon
(NC) – We may see watermelon as a sweet treat for kids on a hot day but in some European and Asian cultures it’s customary to gift this versatile cucurbit (cucumber, melon, pumpkin, gourd family) to a gracious host or ill friend.
It seems there is more to this custom than just a simple snack. In addition to acting as an ideal hydrator – it’s 92 per cent water – watermelon is great as a quick source of energy and is packed with nutrients including the antioxidant lycopene, thiamin, vitamins A, C and B6, panothenic acid, magnesium and potassium. Perfect for summer sports, cut cubes of watermelon and serve as a refreshing ‘pick me up’ during rest breaks.
Recent studies on the health benefits of watermelon are even more encouraging. Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service in Lane, Oklahoma have confirmed that watermelon is an excellent source of the amino acid citrulline. Citrulline is used by the human body to create arginine – another important amino acid – which plays a key role in cell division, wound healing and the removal of ammonia. Watermelon is one of the few foods that contain such high levels of citrulline, which is not only abundant but also readily usable by the body. A low-calorie food that’s naturally sweet, watermelon is the ideal healthy treat.
Healthful qualities aside, the possibilities for enjoying watermelon are endless. They can be used in a variety of sweet or savoury recipes or simply eaten out of hand. More about the benefits of watermelon plus recipes, kids craft ideas and carving suggestions can be found online at www.watermelon.org. These delightfully tasty ‘mountains’ make the perfect summer afternoon activity for children of all ages. They are fun to make and even more fun to eat.