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Watermelon: The Fresh Juicy Fruit With Numerous Health Benefits
Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise promotes health and may substantially reduce the risk of certain fatal diseases associated with old age. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains has always been of incredible health benefit. Watermelon, scientifically known as Citrullus lanatus, has a great potential as a basic food source and contributes to a healthy nutritional diet.
Watermelons were primarily grown on lighter soils in regions with warmer climates. Watermelons were a warm season crops consumed as dessert fruits and the rinds were used for making pickles and preserves. However, with increased market acceptance, better edible quality and long distance shipping adaptability, the growth of watermelons has increased worldwide. Certain breeds of watermelons have been developed to be more specific to regions of the world. The breeding has resulted in improved quality, which involves maximum sugar content, excellent flavor, and firm flesh with deep red color pigment due to the presence of lycopene.
The sweet, juicy watermelon is actually packed with some of the most important antioxidants in nature. It reduces the risk of fatal diseases like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and arthritis. Watermelon is rich in the B vitamins necessary for energy production. Watermelon is a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of vitamin B1, magnesium, and potassium. Watermelon has a high nutrient density due to the higher water content and lower calorie content than many other fruits. A rich source of vitamins A and C, watermelon also contains lycopene. Lycopene is a red pigment that occurs naturally in certain plant and algal tissues. In addition to giving watermelon and tomatoes their color it is an excellent anti-oxidant that can help prevent heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Up until a few decades ago, watermelon was largely a seasonal fruit that appeared in the market for a few months and then disappeared by the end of summer. Considering the current information regarding the health benefits of watermelon there has been a huge increase in the per capita watermelon consumption. The increase in imports during the winter and early spring is helping satisfy the consumer demand for year-round supplies of watermelon.
Selective plant breeding programs are being employed in order to improve the overall nutritional qualities of watermelon. Commercial companies are employing trained scientists to research and develop long-term solutions that lead to a better product quality in terms of higher sugar content and consequently increases acceptance among the consumers.
In terms of acreage, production, and per capita consumption watermelon is the leading U.S. melon crop. A recent survey indicates that the middle-income groups are the leading consumers of watermelon. The bulk of watermelon purchase has been from retail outlets and it is categorized as a home food. Among the top three melons, the honeydew variety is the most prevalent. Cantaloupe use is similar to watermelon with 16 percent purchased as food away from home.
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