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Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 13th WHMonth KITCHEN HERBOLOGY: WATERMELON

TO CELEBRATE WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH (WHM), during the month of March ~ in addition to my weekly postings ~ I will be making DAILY postings of time tested herbal and medicinal foods used from a Medicine Woman's bag.  I hope you enjoyed the first week of Women's History Month "Healers Remedies" and have made some of them a part of your home medicine bag. Starting this second week we will be focusing on "Kitchen Herbology' featuring healing foods and spices from the kitchen.

Fell free to share what you learn here with your family and friends ~ and to post comments on your personal experiences with the herbs, foods and remedies ~ so we all can expand the tools in our Medicine Bags!

What's New and Beneficial About Watermelon

  • Alongside of tomatoes, watermelon has moved up to the front of the line in recent research studies on high-lycopene foods. Lycopene is a carotenoid phytonutrient that's especially important for our cardiovascular health, and an increasing number of scientists now believe that lycopene is important for bone health as well. Among whole, fresh fruits that are commonly eaten in the U.S., watermelon now accounts for more U.S. intake of lycopene (by weight of fruit eaten) than any other fruit. Pink grapefruit and guava are two other important fruit sources of lycopene, although in the U.S., these fruits are more often consumed in the form of juice.
  • Health scientists are becoming more and more interested in the citrulline content of watermelon. Citrulline is an amino acid that is commonly converted by our kidneys and other organ systems into arginine (another amino acid). The flesh of a watermelon contains about 250 millligrams of citrulline per cup. When our body absorbs this citrulline, one of the steps it can take is conversion of citrulline into arginine. Particularly if a person's body is not making enough arginine, higher levels of arginine can help improve blood flow and other aspects of our cardiovascular health. There's also some preliminary evidence from animal studies that greater conversion of citrulline into arginine may help prevent excess accumulation of fat in fat cells due to blocked activity of an enzyme called tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase, or TNAP.
  • If you've gotten used to thinking about the juicy red flesh at the center of a watermelon as its only nutrient-rich area—and far more nutrient-rich than the more lightly-colored flesh that is farther out near the watermelon rind—it is time to change your thinking. In a recent study, food scientists compared the nutrient content of flesh from different parts of a watermelon: flesh from the center, the stem end, the blossom end (opposite from the stem), and the periphery (the part nearest to the rind). What they've discovered were impressive concentrations of phenolic antioxidants, flavonoids, lycopene, and vitamin C in all of these different areas. The exact distribution of nutrients was also highly dependent on the variety of watermelon. But there was no area in any of the watermelon varieties that came out badly in terms of nutrients, and in many of the watermelon varieties, the flesh's outer periphery contained impressive concentrations of most nutrients.
  • Recent studies have confirmed the nutritional importance of allowing a watermelon to fully ripen. For example, research has shown that the biggest jump in lycopene content occurs at the time when a watermelon's flesh turns from white-pink to pink. Yet when that flesh continues to ripen, resulting in a color change from pink to red, the lycopene content becomes even more concentrated. Prior to ripening, when the flesh of a watermelon is primarily white in color, its beta-carotene content is near zero. Even when allowed to ripen to the white-pink stage, a watermelon still contains very little of its eventual beta-carotene content. But as it moves from white-pink to pink to red, the beta-carotene content of a watermelon steadily increases. Like lycopene and beta-carotene, total phenolic antioxidants in a watermelon also increase consistently during ripening, all the way up until the appearance of fully red flesh. The bottom line: eating a fully ripe watermelon can really pay off in terms of nutrient benefits. Please see our section called "How to Select and Store" to learn about determining a watermelon's ripeness before you purchase it.
When we think of health benefits of watermelon, we tend to ignore the health benefits of watermelon seeds. Benefits of watermelon seeds are quite different from benefits of watermelon sweet, juicy pulp. Further our cartoon characters have promoted spitting of beneficial watermelon seeds (Read bullet speed and Watermelon seed spitting). Considering the nutrient packed in watermelon seeds and health benefits of watermelon seeds, you might need to rethink spitting or discarding watermelon seeds

Nutrition Value of Watermelon seeds

Watermelon seeds are packed with nutrients including fatty acids, essential proteins and lots of minerals. Around 100 gram of watermelon seeds provide around 600 calories same as having 10 loaves of bread. Around 400 calories come from fats in watermelon seeds. Fat content in 100 gram of watermelon seeds is around 80% of daily dietary requirement of fats. Around one third of watermelon seeds is proteins, mainly highly essential proteins like lysine.

Benefits of watermelon seeds for men

Arginine is essential amino acids present in Watermelon seed, which is believed to improve sexual health in men. A2013 study, suggests that Arginine promotes production of nitric oxide in body and is helpful in treating acute arteriogenic Erectile dysfunction. Consumption of watermelon and watermelon seeds is believed to increase sperm production and sustain erection. Often touted as Red Viagra.

Mineral and Vitamin content of watermelon seeds

Watermelon seeds are good source of vitamin B like Thiamin, niacin, folate. Watermelon seeds are rich in minerals like magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, Zinc, Iron, potassium and Copper. 100 grams of watermelon seeds provides around 139%, 87%, 82%, 74%, 44%, 20% and 37% of daily dietary values of these minerals respectively. Watermelon seeds are also good source of dietary fibers which are essential for healthy bowel movements and digestion.

Eating and Uses of watermelon seeds

Globally watermelon is widely consumed, but in most places watermelon seeds are discarded. In Asian and Middle Eastern countries, watermelon seeds are collected, dried and roasted for eating. Watermelon seeds are also used in making soups or other beneficial products like watermelon seed oil, watermelon seed tea and watermelon seed extract are made.
When we were kids, my Mom used to cook the watermelon seeds: she would lay them out on a napkin, salt them, let them dry and then fry them.  THEY WERE DELICIOUS, AND IT WAS FUN TO PARTICIPATE AND WATCH.
Cooking Watermelon Seeds: We all read how nutritious watermelon seeds are. We can just roast them and eat them as snack. These roasted watermelon seeds can also be used to garnish salads. Oil obtained from watermelon seed is used as moisturizer for skin. Watermelon seed oil finds its place in some of skin care products and cosmetics. Sometimes watermelon seed extract is used instead. Watermelon seed extract is considered as home remedy for stomach and urinary tract related disorders. Tea from ground watermelon seed is also consumed in some parts of glob. It is because of health benefits of watermelon seed tea, it is considered to improve health of kidney. Research is ongoing to confirm this health benefit of watermelon seed tea.

How to make roasted watermelon seeds

Collecting watermelon seed from watermelon we eat is first process. Dark coloured watermelon seeds should be preferred. These collected seeds shall be washed well, removing any pulpy matter. These washed seeds should be dried. You can dry them under sun if you want. These dried seeds should be fried with some oil. Keep stirring the seeds till they look completely roasted. Add some salted water to this pan, and keep heating the seeds till the water is evaporated and seeds are completely dried. Avoid overheating the seeds as you do not want the nutrients especially vitamins to be removed and enjoy completely the health benefits of watermelon seeds.
These salted, tasty watermelon seeds can be stored and enjoyed as munching snack. Roasted and salted watermelon seeds remains as one of the traditional Egyptian snacks. These seeds can also be ground into cereal and used to make bread or used in stews and soups. (read more: 1)

Health benefits of Watermelon seeds

Flickr user - diwineanddine -Health benefits of watermelon seeds
Essential Amino Acids – Amongst all the amino acids body requires, there are some known as essential amino acids which body cannot produce. These include arginine, lysine and others. Watermelon seeds supply some of these essential amino acids including tryptophan, glutamic acids. Lysine plays important role in calcium absorption and formation of collgen and connective tissues in body. Arginine helps in improvement of body metabolism, cardio vascular system and sexual health.
Watermelon seeds are rich in magnesium and 100 grams of watermelon seeds provide around 139% of daily dietary requirement of magnesium. Magnesium is responsible for normal heart functioning, promoting normal blood pressure, supporting energy metabolism and protein synthesis. It has beneficial effect in treating cardiovascular diseases, hypertension. Magnesium regulates carbohydrate metabolism and thereby checks blood sugar and controls diabetes.
Watermelon seeds are equivalent to multivitamin B complex supplements we consume. Some of the vitamin B present in watermelon seeds include niacin, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, panthothenic acid. About 100 gm of watermelon seed provide 19% daily value of niacin, which is essential in maintaining the nervous system, digestive system and skin health.
Water melon seed is considered demulcent. Lipids in watermelon seed helps form protective layer mucus membrane and thus reduces inflammation. Watermelon seed is believed to promote production of urine. It thus because of its diuretic action helps excretion of water from body and aids detoxification. It is employed in treatment of urinary passages and treat bed wetting.  An emulsion created by scrubbing and shaking watermelon seeds with water is traditionally used in treating catarrhal infections, disorders of the bowels, urinary passage and fever.
It is also believed to act as body tonic and aids in reduction of blood pressure. It is good vermifuge; Fatty acid extracted from seed as well as its extracts are reported to paralyze tapeworms and round warms. Tar is extracted from seeds which finds medicinal used in treatment of scabies and skin tanning.
Watermelon Seed Oil is also known as Ootanga Oil and Kalahari Oil. African people have understood benefits of watermelon seeds and been using highly nutritive oil from watermelon seeds. Read more about benefits of watermelon seed oil.
The information goes on and on - to read more, please go here:
  http://www.valuefood.info/food/natural-food/nutrition-health-benefits-fruits/health-benefits-of-watermelon-seeds/