During the summer, you probably stock up on sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and cover-ups to protect your skin from the sun. But did you know another way to battle the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays can be found right in the produce aisle of your supermarket?
As it turns out, watermelon, as well as ruby red grapefruit and tomatoes, are all rich in lycopene. This powerful antioxidant found in reddish-colored fruits tends to act as a natural sunscreen. It actually protects skin cells from the sun’s burning rays which can lead to premature aging and even skin cancer, and replenishes them. In addition, lycopene helps your skin act as a natural filter, allowing enough sunlight through for your body to produce vitamin D.
Besides helping to prevent sunburns, lycopene can also help prevent wrinkles. It strengthens the elasticity of skin tissues while keeping them from losing their tension.
To increase lycopene absorption from food, serve it with a bit of oil such as salad dressing or olive oil. Best picks for lycopene include cooked tomato products such as tomato soup, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce and canned tomato sauce and watermelon, ruby red grapefruit and guava.
As the name implies, watermelon is 92% water but it is also filled with other good nutrients. It is an excellent source of vitamin A which helps keep eyes healthy.
Watermelon contains four B-vitamins that help produce energy needed for the exercise enthusiast. It provides over half the daily need for vitamin C and is the leading source of lycopene, an antioxidant important for preventing heart disease and cancer.
It is easy to pick a perfect melon. Once a watermelon is harvested from the vine, it will no longer ripen or sweeten. Keep these three tips in mind to pick a sweet-tasting melon.
- LOOK – Choose a melon with an even shape and free from bruises, cuts or dents.
- LIFT – Melons are mostly water, so pick a heavy one.
- TURN IT OVER - The underside of the watermelon should have a yellow belly from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.
Whole watermelon can be stored at room temperature for up to one week. Before cutting or slicing, wash the watermelon rind with running water to help remove any bacteria that may be on the surface. Watermelon that has been cut should be loosely wrapped, refrigerated and eaten within a few days.
Try some creative ways to enjoy the many benefits of watermelon this summer by making a watermelon cake, watermelon slice popsicles or a watermelon keg. Visit www.watermelon.org for these recipes and more.
Source: The National Watermelon Promotion Board, www.watermelon.org
Frosted Watermelon Shapes
Serves 25 (2 shapes each).
All you need:
- 1 medium seedless watermelon
- 1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow cream
- 3 oz Hy-Vee reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
- 50 blueberries, optional
All you do:
- Using a cookie cutter, cut shapes out of 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch-thick slices of watermelon. Place watermelon shapes on a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer, mix marshmallow cream and cream cheese until smooth.
- Spread about 1 teaspoom of cream cheese mixture over each star to frost. Top each with a blueberry, if desired.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 40 calories, 0.5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 25mg sodium, 8g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 6g sugar, 0g protein.
Daily Values: 2% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 0% calcium, 0% iron.
Source: Hy-Vee dietitians
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.