The Watermelon Wonder
By CLEMENT OGUNBIYI
One of the myths children are often told is that when they eat watermelon seeds (or seed from any other fruit), such fruits would grow in their stomach. However, recent researches have shown that the entire watermelon can be consumed, including flesh, seeds and rind. The seeds have in fact been found to have nutritional values.
The watermelon is a fruit with widespread appeal. As with most fruits, its seeds are almost always discarded and not eaten. But that is now a thing of the past in some parts of the world. In Asia and Middle Eastern countries, watermelon seeds are collected and roasted so they can be served as a snack. In Nigeria, watermelon seeds are used in certain soups. Watermelon seeds have their own nutritional makeup, including proteins, fats, iron and other nutrients. Watermelon seeds are also a source of calories. For instance, in one cup (108g) of watermelon seeds, there are about 602 calories. Contrasted with one cup of cooked brown rice, which contains only 216 calories, watermelon seeds are relatively high in the number of calories per gram or per cup.
Watermelon seeds are also composed of about 35 per cent protein and are a good source of protein on a per-gram basis. In one cup of watermelon seeds, there are 31g of protein. The protein in watermelon seeds is of reasonably high quality. Out of the nine essential amino acids, watermelon seed protein ranks highly in all but one – lysine.
In fact, watermelon seeds are a good source of several vitamins and minerals. Per one cup, watermelon seeds contain a significant amount of the following vitamins: Thiamin (14 per cent of recommended daily value), riboflavin (nine per cent), niacin (19 per cent) and foliate (16 per cent). Regarding minerals, watermelon seeds provide calcium (six per cent), iron (44 per cent), magnesium (139 per cent), phosphorus (82 per cent), potassium (20 per cent), zinc (74 per cent), copper (37 per cent) and manganese (87 per cent).
Because of their size and hard outer coating, watermelon seeds, if not chewed or otherwise broken down before swallowing, can easily pass through a person’s digestive tract undigested. If this happens, none of the seeds and none of its nutrients are absorbed into the body. Therefore, watermelon seeds should be chewed before swallowing if its nutritional content is desired.