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Eating Well With Whole Foods: Watermelon

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

Originating in Africa, the watermelon was first cultivated in Egypt and was held in such high regard that it was placed in tombs of Egyptian kings. The dog days of summer are the perfect time to enjoy thirst-quenching, crunchy, and refreshing watermelon. Watermelon is sweetest and at its best in August. A member of the Cucurbitaceae family, the watermelon is related to the cantaloupe, squash and pumpkin. Although most commonly possessing a deep red-pink flesh, watermelon also comes in white, orange, and yellow varieties. Russia, China, Turkey, Iran and the United States are the leading commercial producers of watermelon. Watermelon range in size from a few pounds to nearly 100 pounds!

Made up of approximately 92% water, this popular summer thirst-quencher may also help squelch the inflammation that contributes to conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and arthritis. Watermelon is chock full of nutrients and powerful antioxidants including lycopene, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B1, potassium, and magnesium. The phytonutrient lycopene helps neutralize the damage of free radicals on the body, and has been found to be protective against a growing list of cancers including prostate, breast, lung, endometrial, and colorectal. And, the dynamic duo of vitamin C and beta-carotene also assists in ridding the body of harmful molecules. These nutrients have been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease and colon cancer, and alleviate the symptoms of arthritis and asthma. Watermelon also helps promote energy production because of its rich concentration of B vitamins. Due in part to its high water content and low calorie content – one cup contains less than 50 calories – watermelon packs a more nutritious punch ounce per ounce than many other fruits.

When buying watermelons select ones that are heavy for their size with a smooth surface that is not overly dull or shiny. Look for a distinct creamy-yellow colored area of the rind, which denotes the underbelly that was resting on the ground during harvesting. Avoid ones that are absent of this distinct marking because it signifies that the watermelon was harvested prematurely. For optimal nutritious benefits, store watermelon at room temperature, which increases its antioxidant levels. Once cut, however, place in the refrigerator and cover with plastic to preserve its freshness, taste, and succulence. Whether enjoyed straight as is, tossed into salads, or blended with ice, organic honey, lime and mint as a cooling tonic, watermelon is a delectable nutritious and refreshing summer treat.


Summer Salad

½ seedless watermelon, chopped into about 8 cups

4 cucumbers, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks

8.5 tablespoons of lime juice


sea salt (if desired)

Place chopped watermelon into a large bowl. Add cucumber chunks.

Drizzle in lime juice. Sprinkle pepper on top. Add salt (if desired). Toss. Add more pepper and salt to taste. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com,  or you can email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com,  or call her at (212) 799-4169 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.

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