Wonderful Watermelon: Summer's Favorite Food

Summer is a time for enjoying the great outdoors, finding new adventures, and enjoying light and refreshing summer foods. When temperatures rise, what's better than a cool and refreshing treat? Composed of more than 90% water, watermelon is the perfect fruit for keeping cool and staying hydrated. Celebrate Watermelon Day on August 3rd and impress your friends with these fun facts about a favorite summer treat.

  • Watermelon belongs to the botanical family Curcurbitaceae and is the most consumed melon in the United States
  • The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
  • Watermelons grow in more than 96 countries around the world.
  • China is the number one producer of watermelon worldwide
  • 44 states in the United States produce watermelon each year
  • Watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene, a naturally occurring compound that is thought to decrease risk of developing heart disease and certain forms of cancer
  • Watermelon is also a great source of fiber, potassium and vitamins B6, A and C
  • Watermelon is a low calorie food. A two cup serving of watermelon is only about 80 calories!
  • Evert part of the watermelon including the rind and seeds is edible
  • Watermelon typically weight between 5 and 50 pounds. The Guinness World Record holder for heaviest watermelon is Chris Kent of Sieverville, TN with a watermelon weighing 350.5 lbs!

Ready to indulge? Here's how :

1. Look for a firm, symmetrical melon free of cuts, dents and bruises

2. Lift it - it should be heavy for its size

3. Check for a rich yellow spot on the underside. This is where the melon sat and ripened .

4. Bacteria can be transferred from the outside of a melon to the inside once it's cut. Avoid spreading bacteria by washing your hands and the surface of the melon before cracking it open.

This summer, try a new way to prepare and serve this delicious fruit. Click the link for some interesting recipes and ideas to get you started http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/watermelon-recipes#cooking-wi...

Written by Angela Stancil, MS, RD, LDN