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Food

Watermelon: The Master of Heatwaves

Each plant on earth has an important role, where or not he put it to use. That is why it is we must balance economic development and the sustainable use of our planet’s resources. Climate change reminds us of this each day. For sure, temperatures around the globe are not normal. In recent weeks, people in many places are debating which is the worst nightmare: the unbearable heat or COVID’s mutations?

Both COVID and heatwaves are prompting us to take protective measures. COVID can be addressed with vaccines, and heatwaves and our thirst can be can assuaged by the watermelon!

A ‘One in a million’ plant, it evolved to offer us its valuable assistance in the too-hot-to-handle summer days. The classic summer fruit offers more than a refreshing snack, however.

Watermelon in Greek is ‘hydropepon’ (hydro=water), but unfortunately today, ‘karpouzi’ from Turkish word ‘karpuz’ is widely used in Greek language. Maybe the most interesting ‘power’ of watermelon is its ability to reduce the effect of heat when you consume it, according to Chinese traditional medicine. It fortifies your cells with water and has an almost immediate effect on our bodies when they are exhausted from heat, and since ancient times, it is a well-known diuretic.

It has been cultivated for around 5,000 years, in ancient Egypt and Greece.

Even though 92% of watermelon is water, it contains great amount of vitamins A and C and B6, as well as antioxidants. Also, it has b-cryptoxanthin, a natural pigment which protects the joints from inflammation. This is why it is good for rheumatoid arthritis. It also contains citruline, a substance which lowers the blood pressure and helps for heart attacks. Lycopene, an antioxidant that is found in tomatoes and watermelon, protect the cells from sunburn damage and reduces risk of cancer and diabetes. Its fiber helps with constipation and improves bowel function. There is also some evidence that it helps the brain and nervous system, and muscle soreness after intense athletic activity. There are recent studies which support that it improves metabolism and helps with obesity.

What about ‘karpouzi with feta’? The famous Greek cheese makes a perfect match with the famous fruit. The sweet and savory combination creates the ideal ‘contrast’ in your palate, a gourmet treat! Also, feta provides you with protein and calcium, which watermelon lacks. Together, are make a perfect match for a full meal during a hot lunchtime or at night after hours in the sun and heat.

Small pleasures often are hidden treasures, and we frequently take them for granted. Tradition and modern food science, however, are teaching us and changing our nutritional attitudes as a species, and global respect for nature should be part of our culture in order to survive.

* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

By Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.

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