Watermelon: A Very Healthy Treat

By Skip Richter

Like we needed another reason to grow watermelons, right? As if sweet, juicy delicious summer flavor is not enough, watermelons are actually good for your health. Known to be a good source of vitamins A, B-6, C, and thiamin, watermelons are now found to be high in lycopene. This plant nutrient, which imparts red color to fruits and vegetables, is a powerful antioxidant linked to reduced incidence of certain types of cancer and reduced risk of heart attack. Tomatoes have recently been touted as a high-lycopene vegetable, but watermelons contain about 40 percent more.

Recent research at the South Central Agricultural Research Center in Lane, Oklahoma, and the Phytonutrients Lab in Beltsville, Maryland, has focused on the lycopene content of watermelons and how well our bodies take it up and put it to use. Scientists have discovered a wide variation in lycopene content between watermelon varieties, with seedless melons tending to have more. In a special clinical trial, participants who drank watermelon juice increased their bodies' levels of lycopene. A California company is already producing and selling a watermelon juice product on the West Coast.

Now if they could only find some healthful nutrients in homemade ice cream ...

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