By Angela Stancil, MS, RD, LDN
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 percent 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.Summer is a time for enjoying the great outdoors, finding new adventures, and enjoying light and refreshing summer foods.
- 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!
- Every 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 Seiverville, Tenn., with a watermelon weighing 350.5 lbs!
Ready to indulge? Here’s how:
- Look for a firm, symmetrical melon free of cuts, dents and bruises.
- Lift it – it should be heavy for its size.
- Check for a rich yellow spot on the underside. This is where the melon sat and ripened.
- 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. Check our the American Heart Association’s recipe library for several watermelon-friendly recipes here.