You'll lose your rind over these Israeli watermelons and their many health benefits and uses!
It’s watermelon season in Israel and we can’t help but swoon over this simple yet magical fruit. Mosey round the Tel Aviv beaches in the summertime and you’re bound to see families munching on fresh watermelon - kids grabbing onto the rinds with both hands and biting right into the cherry-red fruit, the juice dripping slowly down their wrists. Fresh, cold watermelon topped with salty Bulgarian cheese is on the dessert menu in many Tel Aviv beachside restaurants. The food market vendors compete over who has the sweetest watermelons.
Grown in the Arava region and lower Galilee, watermelon is an Israeli summer staple. Israelis love watermelons - In fact in the summer of 2018, the average Israeli consumed 20kg of watermelon! Israeli farmers and scientists are even creating watermelons in various colors that are claimed to taste “as sweet as pineapple”.
There are countless reasons why this fruit is so special, so we’ve racked up some food-for-thought around watermelons - their health benefits and many uses. Read on for something fresh that you may not have known about watermelons.
BENEFIT #1: WATERMELONS HYDRATE OUR BODIES
A huge health benefit of watermelons is that they are a great source of water. Watermelons are 92% water - 92%! That’s like drinking a glass of water. Even as “water” is in the name, it’s mind-blowing to think how much watermelons hydrate our bodies.
Water is one of the most important elements that our body needs and is used to protect our joints, carry nutrients and oxygen to cells, and aid in digestion. Every time you bite into a watermelon you’re giving your body a boost. If you’re an athlete, consider eating watermelon post-workout as some research states that watermelon could hydrate you more effectively than water or sports drinks.
BENEFIT #2: WATERMELONS REGULATE BODY TEMPERATURE
Chill out! Watermelon season is during the summer. How convenient that along with hydrating you, watermelons cool down body temperature! Keeping our body temperature stable is one of the most important (and least talked about) factors we have to maintain our health and optimal body function. Eating watermelon slows down our digestive system and takes less energy from the body.
BENEFIT #3: WATERMELONS ARE RICH IN NUTRIENTS
Along with fiber which is great for gut health, nutrients in watermelons can also be beneficial for your exterior. Vitamins A & C in watermelons help keep skin smooth, and the water hydrates dry and dull skin. To give your skin a boost, try this quick and easy homemade face mask recipe: Mix 1 tablespoon of watermelon juice with equal parts Greek yogurt. Rub on your face and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
Let’s not forget the color - the bright cherry red in watermelons comes from a nutrient called lycopene that is rich in antioxidants. Watermelons have about 40% more lycopene than tomatoes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are great for heart health and may even prevent cancer or diabetes.
Watermelons also make a much healthier dessert alternative - for an easy sorbet recipe: puree some watermelon in your food processor, add a tablespoon of lemon or lime, and diced up mint leaves. Pop them in the freezer in an ice tray until it freezes. It’s the perfect little snack or can even be added to a glass of water for a refreshing twist.
WHAT ELSE DO WE LOVE ABOUT WATERMELONS IN ISRAEL?
SEEDING THE BENEFITS
In Israel, traditionally Malali Watermelons are largely used for their seeds. However there are some types like the Maxima ™ that are engineered to be seedless. If you happen to have a watermelon with seeds, don’t throw them away. Save watermelon seeds and pop them in the oven with a little salt for a snack rich in nutrients. Watermelon seeds contain iron, proteins, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids that are good for your hair and skin.
A major health benefit from watermelons actually comes from the rind, which is widely forgotten about. According to MindBodyGreen, eating watermelon rinds is encouraged as they contain magnesium, potassium and amino acids. As we strive to be sustainable at Sol Food TLV by minimizing food waste, we fully support using ALL of the fruit. So - don't lose the rind! Use the white rind for pickling, adding it to a cold tomato gazpacho, or making a hot Asian soup with shiitake mushrooms.
Now that we know all of the health benefits of a watermelon, we can thoroughly enjoy them.
The next time you’re at the market, head over to get a cool hydrating-filled watermelon, and think of all the good you’re doing for your body! Something sweet, juicy, which offers lots of health and skin benefits? Now that’s what feeds our soul.
BONUS Recipe - Israeli Watermelon Summer Salad
Ingredients for salad
Half a watermelon, diced into small squares
1-2 handfuls mint leaves (finely chopped)
1-2 handfuls basil leaves (finely chopped)
2-3 cucumbers, thinly sliced
Crumbled feta cheese or Israeli Tzfatit cheese (optional)
Mix all ingredients for salad together.
Ingredients for dressing
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon (if you like it more sour, use another 1/2)
2 tsp sumac
salt and pepper to taste
Mix the dressing ingredients together, and add to the salad. Toss together and enjoy!
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