Organic watermelon is a nutritional best bet, with more than 1,200 varieties available for savvy snacking. Farmers in 44 states grow these juicy members of the Cucurbitaceae plant family, with Georgia, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona leading the pack.
Here are 10 reasons to head to the summer produce aisle.
1. Get your vitamins—naturally
A 2-cup serving of watermelon is an excellent source of vitamins A and C:
- Vitamin A is critical for optimal eye health. A 2-cup serving of watermelon contains 25% of your daily requirement.
- Vitamin C helps bolster the immune system. A 2-cup serving of watermelon contains 30% of your daily requirement.
2. Potassium is your BFF
Potassium helps maintain water balance. If your potassium level is low, you may experience muscle cramps.
A 2-cup serving of watermelon provides 270 mg potassium: 8% of your daily requirement. A watermelon is also more than 90% water, so a few cups will help you stay hydrated.
3. Watermelon is heart-healthy
Watermelon contains amino acids that help maintain healthy arteries and blood flow.
“With its naturally sweet taste, watermelon can be a wonderful way to get more fruit into a sensible low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol diet,” says Maureen Storey, PhD, former director of the Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy at the University of Maryland.
4. It helps protect you against cancer
Red-fleshed watermelon contains high concentrations of lycopene, an antioxidant that helps reduce cancer risk. A 1.5-cup serving contains 14 to 15 mg lycopene, according to plant physiologist Penelope Perkins-Veazie, PhD, a professor at the Plants for Human Health Institute at North Carolina State University. The redder the watermelon, the more lycopene it offers.
5. Pour me a drink
As with our story on making lemon-flavored ice cubes, you can create watermelon ice cubes (above) by pureeing the melon’s flesh and freezing it in ice cube trays.
6. Watermelon is kid-friendly
Few children will turn down a slice of juicy watermelon, so make it a part of their regular fruit and veggie intake. Be creative in the kitchen. Let your kids use a melon baller to form watermelon spheres.
7. Baby, you can drive my car
Place cubes of melon in travel containers for hydration and a nutritional boost during long car trips. Bring napkins!
8. Watermelon shines at organic picnics
Labor Day is almost here. Make an Americana Basket (above) for backyard barbecues and potlucks.
9. Get thee to a farmers’ market
Not sure where your local farmers’ market is located? Local Harvest will solve this problem in a jiff.
10. Grow your own
Kits like Ecosource’s Organic Grow Your Own Seedling Starter Kits are great gift items, and they make the job easy. More advanced gardeners can pick up a copy of Amy Goldman’s Melons for the Passionate Grower.
Follow me on Twitter: @BarbGoesOrganic