The juicy, sweet, and refreshing taste of watermelon is a summertime favorite. But why is the inside of a watermelon red?
The answer lies in the watermelon’s genetics. Watermelons are a type of fruit known as a pepo, which is a berry with a thick rind and fleshy center. The red color of the watermelon’s flesh is due to a pigment called lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid, which is a type of pigment found in many fruits and vegetables.
What is Lycopene?
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that is responsible for the red color of many fruits and vegetables. It is found in tomatoes, pink grapefruits, guavas, and of course, watermelons. Lycopene is a fat-soluble pigment, meaning it is absorbed better when eaten with a source of fat, such as olive oil or avocado.
Health Benefits of Lycopene
Lycopene has been linked to a number of health benefits, including reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease, and age-related macular degeneration. It is also thought to help protect the skin from sun damage and reduce inflammation.
How Does Lycopene Get Into Watermelons?
Lycopene is produced by plants in response to sunlight. When a watermelon is exposed to sunlight, the plant produces lycopene to protect itself from the sun’s rays. This is why watermelons are typically red on the inside.
How to Get the Most Lycopene From Watermelons
To get the most lycopene from watermelons, it is best to eat them when they are ripe. Ripe watermelons will have a deep red color and a sweet smell. It is also important to eat watermelons with a source of fat, such as olive oil or avocado, as this will help the body absorb the lycopene more effectively.
Watermelons are a delicious and refreshing summertime treat. But they are also a great source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to a number of health benefits. To get the most lycopene from watermelons, it is best to eat them when they are ripe and with a source of fat. So the next time you enjoy a slice of watermelon, you can feel good knowing that you are getting a healthy dose of lycopene.
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