A juicy slice of watermelon brings thoughts of warm summer days, but if you toss the rind, you're passing up some extra nutrition. Many cultures use watermelon rind in their cuisines for its mild flavor. Watermelon rind has vitamins, minerals and fiber, plus it may provide a medical benefit.
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Watermelon is a low-calorie summer treat. One cup provides 50 calories and a source of vitamins A and C. The red flesh of watermelon is high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may protect your body from certain types of cancer and heart disease. Watermelon rind prevents the sweeter flesh from spoiling and contains additional vitamin C, fiber, potassium and a small amount of vitamin B-6. Watermelon rind contains very few calories, so it can add bulk and variety to your dishes without blowing your calorie budget.
Watermelon rinds may have additional medical benefits. Research by the Agricultural Research Service discovered that watermelon rinds contain citrulline. Citrulline creates arginine, an amino acid that makes proteins for your body and plays a role in the relaxation of your blood vessels. Some people have a natural deficiency of arginine. Watermelon rind extract is currently being studied as a possible treatment for angina and other heart and blood conditions.
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Eating the rind allows you to use all of the edible parts of a watermelon, and it reduces food waste. Due to their mild flavor, you can use watermelon rinds in a variety of dishes. Asian cultures use watermelon rinds in stir-fries, salads, soups and other dishes. Pickled watermelon rinds are a popular dish in Southern states. Watermelon rinds also are used to make preserves, relishes and candy.
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The red flesh of the watermelon spoils faster after it is detached from the rind, so plan to use the rind last. Peel the green outer skin from the white rind, then cut the rind into 1/2-inch pieces. Use the chopped rind as you would a vegetable in your dishes. Toss it into a carrot-and-raisin salad with a light dressing. Add diced rind to your favorite soup recipe, or mix it in with your favorite stir-fry vegetables. Enjoy this overlooked part of the watermelon, and make the most out of this delicious seasonal fruit.
Jennifer Dlugos is a Boston-based writer with more than 10 years of experience in the health-care and wellness industries. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter who teaches screenwriting and film production classes throughout New England. Dlugos holds a master's degree in dietetics.