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Nutrition Facts

Ah summer, with its freedom, relaxation, and, of course, food. And when I say food, let me be more specific: ice cream, BBQ, and watermelon. Watermelons have been a staple of my summer for as long as I can remember. Yet when my mom bought a yellow watermelon last summer, I was beyond confused. Aren’t watermelons supposed to be red or pink? Ah summer, with its freedom, relaxation, and, of course, food. And when I say food, let me be more specific: ice cream, BBQ, and watermelon. Watermelons have been a staple of my summer for as long as I can remember. Yet when my mom bought a yellow watermelon last summer, I was beyond confused. Aren’t watermelons supposed to be red or pink? Over 50 varieties of watermelons exist! They can be seedless watermelons (oblong and large), picnic watermelons (oval and also on the larger side), and icebox watermelons (round and on the smaller side). You will probably only find red or pink watermelons at the supermarket this summer. There are, however, watermelons with yellow, orange, and white insides. Yellow, orange, and white watermelons differ from your everyday pink and red watermelons due to one trait: they do not posses lycopene. Lycopene is a red carotene and carotenoid pigment and phytochemical found also in tomatoes and papayas. It acts as an antioxidant, preventing damage from free radicals—harmful molecules that can factor into the development of cancer and blood vessel disease. Yellow, orange, and white watermelons have less nutritional benefit due to their lack of lycopene, but they are often sweeter-tasting than watermelons with pink and red insides. Watermelons originated in northeastern Africa, where they had green, orange, white, and yellow interiors. As Egyptians began cultivating watermelons, they bred out the bitter taste, green color, and tough exterior. Through the centuries, farmers have used selective breeding to alter the watermelon into the sweet, refreshing, and red summer snack it is today. And yet the original orange, white, and yellow watermelons still exist. Trader Joe’s stores and Wilson Farms in Lexington both carry yellow watermelons throughout the summer if you want to try one. I highly recommend it—the yellow watermelon my mom brought home was delicious!

– Emily McKinley

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