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Thursday, October 1, 2015

WATERMELON - AMAZING FRUITS


WATERMELON (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus) under family Cucurbitaceae is a vine-like (scrambler and trailer) flowering plant that originally native to Southern Africa. It is a large, sprawling annual plant with coarse, hairy pinnately-lobed leaves and white to yellow flowers. It is grown for its edible fruit and known as 'a watermelon' which is a special kind of berry referred to by botanists as 'a pepo'. The fruit has a smooth hard rind and usually green with dark green stripes or yellow spots. It was juicy, sweet interior flesh, usually deep red to pink, but sometimes orange, yellow, or white, with many seeds. The plant has been cultivated in Egypt since at least the 2nd millennium BC and by the 10th century AD had reached India and China. It later spread into southern Europe and on into the New World. In Malaysia about 800 - 1,200 hectare CHE of melon grown annually for domestic and export market. Much research effort has been put into breeding disease-resistant varieties and into developing a seedless strain. This article in "Anim Agriculture Technology" I published the watermelon fruits as an amazing fruits.

A large number of cultivars are available in local markets and many of them producing mature fruit within 100 days of planting the crop. The fruit is rich in vitamins A and C and can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways. A watermelon contains about 6% sugar and 91% water. As with many other fruits, it is a good source of vitamin C and is low in fat and sodium. The amino-acid citrulline is produced in watermelon rind. Watermelon pulp contains carotenoids, including lycopene. Watermelon rinds are also edible, but most people avoid eating them due to their unappealing flavor. They are used for making pickles, and sometimes used as a vegetable. The seeds have a nutty flavour and can be dried and roasted, or ground into flour. In China, the seeds are esteemed and eaten like almonds are in the west, being consumed with other seeds at Chinese New Year celebrations. The rind is stir-fried, stewed or more oftenpickled and pickled watermelon rind is also sometimes eaten in the Southern US. Watermelon juice can be made into wine, on its own or blended with other fruits. An alcoholic treat called a "hard watermelon" is made by pouring liquor into a hole in the rind of a whole fruit, and then eating the alcohol-permeated flesh.


Watermelon was originated from southern African countries and from where it spread to all over the tropical and subtropical regions. The plant bears many yellow coloured flowers that may require honeybees for pollination. Externally, the fruit features smooth, deep green or yellow colour thick exterior rind with light-green or gray coloured vertical stripes all over its outer surface. Internally, the flesh is juicy, pink, red, or yellow with numerous small black seeds embedded in the middle third of the flesh. Watermelon has a neutral flavor, and its taste somewhat described as plain-sweet water (light sugar syrup). Its flesh is crunchy unlike soft, creamy texture of muskmelons. Varieties of watermelon-fruits are cultivated world over, featuring variation in their size, shape, and color of the flesh (red, orange, and yellow).

Health benefits of watermelon as many people know that is juicy and sweey. Watermelon are rich in electrolytes and water content, melons are nature’s gift to beat tropical summer thirst. Watermelons are very low in calories (just 30 calories per 100 g) and fats yet very rich source of numerous health promoting phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants that are essential for optimum health. Watermelon is an excellent source of Vitamin-A, which is a powerful natural anti-oxidant. 100 g fresh fruit provides 569 mg or 19% of daily-required levels of this vitamin. It is one of essential vitamin for vision and immunity. Vitamin-A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin-A is known to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. It is also rich in anti-oxidant flavonoids like lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidants are found to offer protection against colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers. Phyto-chemicals present in watermelon like lycopene and carotenoids have the ability to help protect cells and other structures in the body from oxygen-free radicals.

Watermelon is an excellent source of carotenoid pigment, lycopene and indeed, superior to raw redtomato. 100 g of fresh melon provides 4532 µg lycopene, whereas this value only 2573 µg for tomatoes. Studies suggest that lycopene offer certain protection to skin from harmful UV rays. Watermelon fruit is a good source of potassium; Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure; It thus offers protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases. Furthermore, it contains a good amount of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), vitamin-C, and manganese. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Total measured antioxidant strength (ORAC value) of watermelon is 142 µmol TE/100 g. Thanks.

By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Precint 11, Putrajaya,

WP, Malaysia.
(12 Rejab 1436H)

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