Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.meijerhealthyliving.com -

July is national watermelon month.

On average, we eat about 16 pounds of watermelon per person every year, making watermelon the most popular melon in the U.S.

Watermelon is refreshing and affordable with an average cost of just $0.14 per 1 cup serving during the peak summer months.

Whole watermelons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature usually beyond this they’ll lose flavor and texture.

Wash melon prior to slicing under cool running water to prevent the watermelon flesh from possible contamination from any bacteria from soil that might be lurking on the rind. Cut melon (slices, spears, cubes or cut into fun shapes) will keep well in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Selecting a Ripe Watermelon

• Look for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents.

• Lift it up; the watermelon should be heavy for its size.

• Turn it over, the underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. This ground spot should not be white or sunny bright yellow, but the color of butter,

Watermelon contains a wide variety of nutrient benefits:

• It is an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant nutrient which aids in the maintenance of normal connective tissues, promotes wound healing and supports immune health.

• Watermelon is also an excellent source of vitamin A, important for optimal eye health and to support immune health.

• Watermelon is also considered a good source of two energizing B-vitamins, B6 (pyridoxine) and B1 (thiamin), which play a role in metabolism and nervous system function.

• Watermelon also provides a source of the mineral potassium, which is necessary for water balance and healthy blood pressure.

• Most notably, watermelon is considered the “lycopene leader” among fresh produce; lycopene is an antioxidant which provides the rich red color to watermelon and has been studied for a potential role in reducing risk of heart disease, various cancers and protection to skin from harmful UV rays (a form of edible sunscreen!).

• One cup of watermelon has approximately 40 calories, and has the most nutrition per calorie of common foods. A perfect food if you are trying to control your weight.

• Watermelon is considered a great thirst-quencher as it is over 90 percent water.

Where do Seedless Watermelons Come From?

According to the National Watermelon Promotion seedless watermelons were invented over 50 years ago, and they have few or no seeds. Seedless melons are free of mature seeds, the black ones. Oftentimes, the white seed coats where a seed did not mature are assumed to be seeds. But this isn’t the case! They are perfectly safe to swallow while eating, and don’t worry - no seeds will grow in your stomach.

The seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid, the result of crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds.

This is similar to the mule, produced by crossing a horse with a donkey. This process does not involve genetic modification.

Content adapted from Watermelon.org

Watermelon Recipes:

For fun and simple watermelon carving instructions, visitwww.watermelon.organd click on the “cravings and entertaining” link.

Mediterranean Watermelon Salad