Monday, July 21, 2008

FastGirls Feature Food: Watermelon

A summertime favorite, watermelon is cold sweet and alkalizing. It only has half as much sugar as an apple yet tastes sweeter because it’s mostly (92%) water. Watermelon is a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and silicon. It also contains the pigment lycopene, which is being investigated as a cancer preventative, and glutathione, which guards against cataract formation. The inner pale green rind of watermelon contains chlorophyll and can be eaten along with the pink meat. The fruits black seeds contain curcurbocitrin, which dilates the capillaries and are a traditional remedy for strengthening the kidneys.

Watermelon has anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anticoagulant, diuretic and laxative properties. It lubricates the intestines, has an affinity for the bladder, kidney, stomach and heart and is considered a rejuvenating tonic for the blood. Watermelon can help lift the spirits from depression and has been used in treatments for halitosis, hangover, mouth sores, sore throat and urethral pain. It is a digestive aid and makes an ideal food for a cleanse.

When on the vine, the melon develops a white spot where it touches the ground; when this white spot turns yellow or cream colored, it indicates ripeness. A ripe melon will also be heavy for it’s size, have a sweet fragrance and have skin that can be scraped off easily with a fingernail. It will also make a dull, hollow sound when thumped. Watermelon is best enjoyed on its own but it can be added to fruit salad, juiced or you can freeze the puree for cool watermelon sorbet. For an invigorating watermelon tonic that will help build the blood and strengthen the glands try juicing the seeds, rind and pink meat all together.

And for the men we love...

Watermelon may be a natural Viagra, says a researcher. That’s because the popular summer fruit is richer than experts believed in an amino acid called citrulline, which relaxes and dilates blood vessels much like Viagra and other drugs meant to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).

“We have known that watermelon has citrulline,” says Bhimu Patil, PHD, director of the Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center at Texas A&M University, College Station. Until recently, he tells WebMD, scientists thought most of the citrulline was in the watermelon rind. “Watermelon has more citrulline in the edible part than previously believed,” he says.

How could watermelon be a natural Viagra? The amino acid citrulline is converted into the amino acid arginine, Patil says. “This is a precursor for nitric oxide, and the nitric oxide will help in blood vessel dilation.”

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