For me watermelon is the quintessential summer fruit. Served cold it is the perfect snack for hot, humid summer days. I’ve heard some people say to avoid watermelon… so I decided to investigate!
Watermelon is technically a vegetable, and part of the cucumber and squash family, but let’s not tell the kids that! It grows from a vine-like flowering plant originally from southern Africa. Today’s varieties have been bred to be larger and sweeter, with smaller seeds and thinner rind: much more pleasant to eat than the watermelon from when I was a kid.
According to nutritiondata.self.com a serving of 154g is:
Low glycaemic: containing only calories: only 45 calories per serving, a good snack alternative to candy or ice cream.
Low fat: watermelon contains very little fat, cholesterol or protein, in fact 89% of the calories come from carbs. 1 serving contains 4% of your daily allowance of carbohydrate and 2% dietary fibre.
Packed with nutrients: watermelon contains 18% of your daily allowance of vitamin A (natural antioxidant) and 21% of your vitamin D (great for brain and bone health) and small amounts essential minerals such as potassium and copper. It is also rich in antioxidants including lycopene, betacaroten and lutein. Making it a great food to boost the health of every cell in your body, to reduce inflammation, boost your immune system and reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.
Rich in water: duh, I know! Watermelon’s main ingredient is water and the good thing about water in food is that it is more easily absorbed into your body than drinking plain water.
Fun ways to eat watermelon
Smoothies: watermelon makes a great base for home-made smoothies. Blend with a handful of spinach, blueberries, pinch of cinnamon and some romaine lettuce for a nutritious refreshing drink. If that’s too hard core for you, add a banana to sweeten and thicken.
Brighten up your water: many kids and adults complain about drinking plain, old water, even on a hot day. In the morning fill a large jug with water and ice, add a handful of watermelon chunks and a few mint leaves and pop in the fridge. The watermelon infuses the water throughout the day, with a faintly sweet taste. When you’re feeling thirsty, you have a refreshing drink to hand to stop you reaching for the sodas.
Watermelon lemonade: play around with blended watermelon, raspberries, sugar, water and lemon-juice to create a mix that the whole family loves. Sure it’s got sugar in it, but it’s still way more healthy than the processed, chemical filled packets you can buy in the store.
Popsicles: turn the lemonade mix into a popsicle, the kids will not have a clue they are eating fruit.
Lastly: just chop it up into triangle shapes and pop it on a plate. I’m always amazed at BBQ’s on a hot summers day, how the watermelon disappears before the brownies: your body is pretty good at telling you what you need. It also makes a great alternative to oranges for a snack during a game of soccer or football and contains no toxic chemicals, unlike many sports drinks on the market.
So my conclusion is that for most people watermelon is an excellent choice: it is rich in naturally occurring water, sugars and antioxidants. It is extremely versatile and can be eaten as it comes or as an ingredient in sweet and savory dishes. For those who should avoid too much sugar like people with diabetes, it should be eaten under advisement. As with most foods it should be eaten in moderation: We once held a party and a friend’s son with autism, on a sugar free diet, sneaked into the kitchen and ate a whole watermelon. He was on a sugar high for several days!
One last quick addition to this article: if you buy a whole watermelon, make sure to wash the outside thoroughly before you slice, to avoid contamination from the skin reaching the “fruit” inside.
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As always, I’d love to hear your comments and feedback.