Posted by: Scott Stewart, LAc., Dipl.
A refreshing wayt to cool off with on a hot summer’s day!
Why is watermelon enjoyed so much in the summertime? The nature of watermelon is cold, so it clears internal heat and summertime heat. Since watermelon is made up of approximately 92% water it’s able to replenish our lost body fluids and moisten tissues. It’s also sweet in nature which tonifies the spleen and calms the spirit.
Nutritionally, watermelon is full of surprises! Given its high water content you wouldn’t expect it to have so many health benefits, but it contains high amounts of calcium, vitamin A, and also has good amounts of potassium and magnesium. It turns out that it’s also high in lycopene, which you probably have heard of in association with tomatoes. Lycopene is a carotenoid found naturally in fruits and vegetables; it gives them their red color. One of the benefits of lycopene is that helps prevent a lot of diseases like heart disease and various types of cancer. Watermelon also has high concentrations of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds like flavonoids, triterpenoids, and carotenoids. You’ll also find lots of citrulline, an amino acid which after its conversion into arginine (another amino acid), can be beneficial to cardiovascular health and aid in decreasing the production of fat if at least 3 – 6 cups of watermelon are consumed each day. On the fat note, since watermelon is a diuretic it's great for weight loss.
In Chinese medicine, the cooling effects of watermelon can help in conditions where fluids have been dried up and cause symptoms of intense thirst, mouth sores, dry mouth or lips, and constipation. It can also be indicated when fire ascends to the heart and head causing restlessness, disturbed sleep / insomnia, emotional symptoms, red eyes, headache, or hypertension.
When choosing your watermelon, keep in mind that the more mature and pinkish – red the flesh is, the higher the nutrient content. Look for a smooth rind that is slightly dull on top, and a creamy yellow spot on the bottom. This next point is debatable, but most would agree that if you tap on the outside you should hear a hollow "base" sound which indicates maturity.
Another health tip to consider is that the rind of the watermelon contains high concentrations of nutrients too. You can boil the rind and make a tea, or juice it. The rind isn’t as strong as the flesh for clearing heat, but has a stronger diuretic effect. It’s good for painful urination due to summer – heat.
I will leave you with a refreshing way to enjoy your watermelon, try it with freshly squeezed lime over the flesh, and if you dare, sprinkle a little chili powder on there to spice things up a little. Have a GREAT summer!!!