Thursday


Take the heat off


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Summer has just begun and our body has already started demanding for something cool, refreshing and invigorating!

Would you believe if I say that one particular food can be the answer to all your summer blues?

Watermelon, be it the big, sloppy slices served as a breakfast or a snack or in a tall glass in the form of a rejuvenating and colourful juice; watermelon is the perfect piece to beat the heat, the best thirst quencher and certainly the best possible dessert.

A member of the Cucurbitaceae family (including cantaloupe, squash, pumpkin and cucumber), this wonder fruit is just 6 per cent sugar and 90-91 per cent water by weight — which makes it the weight watchers all-time friend. Apart from being a super cooler and a thirst-quencher, watermelon has a hoard of nutrients — a very good source of vitamin C and vitamin A, phytochemicals (the red flesh signifies their presence) and many other vitamins and minerals.

The best benefits
• Tomatoes have always been given big thumbs up for their rich lycopene content, a powerful antioxidant that fends off heart disease and some types of cancer. Watermelon is the fresh food champ when it comes to lycopene with the highest concentrations of lycopene of any fresh fruit or vegetable.

This naturally occurring disease fighting chemical gives many fruits and vegetables their red colour and is known to fight prostate cancer. Although canned tomato products are highest in lycopene, watermelon beats out all other fresh fruits and vegetables. So enjoy fresh watermelon wedge whenever you can for the maximum cancer protection.

• The presence of nutrients like potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and beta-carotene in watermelon makes it a super miraculous food in improving our cardiovascular and brain health. These important nutrients also help the kidney eliminate kidney stone forming calcium as well as assisting with the body's fluid retention. Watermelon also contains the amino acids citrulline and arginine, which can help maintain arteries, blood flow and overall cardiovascular function. Also the high content of lycopene helps fight cholesterol and potassium, a mineral that battles high blood pressure and stroke — all that adds up to first rate heart protection.

• Watermelons being a very good source of vitamin C and beta carotene, it has becomes a wonder food for improved eyesight and preventing glaucoma.

• If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, fill yourself up, and stay on a diet, slice up a watermelon. As we all know that foods with a high water content help you lose weight and watermelon is staggering 92 per cent water so it will not keep those extra pounds off but also keep your sweet cravings under control.

Pantry pointers
Picking out the perfect melon is easy. Choose one that is symmetrical and firm without bruises, cuts, or dents. If you see a yellow area, the watermelon rested on the ground while it is ripened in the sun, which means you will get a sweeter, juicier melon. Once you take your watermelon home, keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week but once you cut it, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and enjoy within a day or two. 

Monika Seth/Nutritionist and diet consultant specialising in weight loss at Al Raffah Hospital



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