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Watermelon contains more lycopene then tomatoes

Published 11:31am Friday, March 30, 2012

A few weeks ago we learned about the tomato. This week, I’d  like to share some information with you, on my favorite fruit…watermelon.
Watermelon is thought to have originated in Southern Africa. It was later  grown in Egypt, China and Europe and later introduced to native Americans in the 16th century. Watermelon is cultivated in Russia, and commercially grown in Turkey, China, Iran and 44 of our United States.
In Japan, farmers actually found a way to grow square watermelon, by placing young watermelons in glass boxes and letting the fruit assume the box’s shape. A friend once asked me, “Isn’t watermelon just sugar water?”
Actually, not at all. Remember in an earlier column we learned  tomatoes contain the powerful cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene, and that processed tomato  products like tomato juice and sauces contain more lycopene than fresh tomatoes? Guess what? Watermelon contains more lycopene than either. That’s right. Watermelon has more lycopene than even tomatoes.
You see, lycopene is what gives watermelon it’s red color, just like the tomato. In addition to fighting cancers, lycopene shows promise in fighting risk for cardiovascular disease. In fact, this fruit has earned the American Heart Association’s “heart check” seal of approval. Watermelon is rich in Vitamins A and C, which are also antioxidants that help keep arteries strong, and help reduce inflammation in arthritis and asthma.
Watermelon contains potassium, a mineral important for proper function of all cells in our bodies. B vitamins in watermelon help provide energy. Watermelon is great for those trying to shed a few pounds, because it’s virtually calorie free and fat free. One cup only has 46 calories. It also has a 92 percent water content. It’s been proven that foods with high water content help reduce fat levels.
Watermelon also contains calcium, iron and fiber. When storing watermelon, don’t use the refrigerator. The fruit will contain more lycopene if you store it at room temperature for a few days.
Well, we’ve learned lots about the watermelon. One more thing…it tastes great. Mark Twain had the right idea when he penned: “When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat.”
Diet or exercise question? Email me at dwcrocker77@gmail.com. Or visit fitness4yourlife.org. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and personal trainer for 26 years.
He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, USC-Spartanburg baseball team, Converse college equestrian team ,lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular quest of the Pam Stone radio show.

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