[Market-farming] Studies Yield Low-Sugar Watermelons, Probe "Minis'" Nutrition
crublee at libby.org
Thu Dec 2 09:44:52 EST 2004
Studies Yield Low-Sugar Watermelons, Probe "Minis'" Nutrition
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
December 2, 2004
Luis Pons, (301) 504-1628, lpons at ars.usda.gov
What's new with watermelon? Try low-sugar and "mini" varieties. Both were
the focus of recent Agricultural Research Service studies in Lane, Okla.
At the ARS South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory at Lane, plant
geneticist Angela Davis has developed watermelons that would be welcome news
to people looking to lower their sugar intake. Meanwhile, plant physiologist
Penelope Perkins-Veazie expanded previous work confirming watermelon's high
lycopene content, finding that mini-watermelons--a recent addition to the
marketplace--are rich in the health-promoting compound.
According to Davis, decades of breeding practices have increased
watermelon's sugar content to up to 14 percent, making it off limits to
people looking to curb sugar intake. She said her low-sugar melons are just
like regular watermelons--crisp and refreshing.
Davis' study found that pigments such as lycopene, which are considered key
for watermelon consumer acceptance--the redder, the better--can occur
without high sugar content.
Meanwhile, Perkins-Veazie investigated the nutritional aspects of
mini-watermelons, which are about six inches in diameter and have been
commercially available for about two years.
She tested 15 lines and found them chock-full of lycopene and
beta-carotene.. Lycopene has been linked to reduced incidence of certain
cancer types and lower heart-attack risk. Beta-carotene is converted in the
body to vitamin A, which promotes clear vision, bone growth and healthy
Average lycopene concentrations in mini-melons ranged from 6,700 to 9,600
micrograms per 100 grams of melon. Several varieties scored higher lycopene
levels than previously reported for conventional watermelons, which ranged
from 3,700 to 6,900 micrograms per 100 grams.
Perkins-Veazie's latest studies were simplified by a technique she, Davis
and Lane biochemist Wayne Fish developed that allows for rapid determination
of watermelon's lycopene content.
Mini-melons are the result of conventional plant breeding, according to
Read more about this research in the December 2004 issue of Agricultural
Research magazine, available online at:
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research
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