[NAFEX] Watermelons Are Healthier When Served Warm

Naomi dragon-star at cableone.net
Mon Jul 31 13:50:01 EDT 2006

The question is are you more likely to more lycopene from a big cold hunk of
watermelon which you sit down and eat with enjoyment?  or a small chunk of
warm watermelon that you spit out? Since the level is only 20% higher on the
warm melon this means that you would have to eat 12 ounces of cold melon to
equal the benefit contained in 10 ounces of 68 degree melon.  
How likely am I to eat 10 ounces of room temp watermelon ?..Not very.
Can I pack away a good bit more than 12 ounces of lovely cold watermelon and
am I likely too on a warm summer day if I have it available?...Oh Yeah!
I have another experiment in mind for the Oklahomans.  It could even be a
fund raiser.  They should have a watermelon stand at their state Fair maybe.
Offer Cold and Warm melon.. see which they sell more of...Drop the price of
the less good seller and see at what level people will by the less favored
temperature melon in equal amounts with the favored temperature melon.
(Notice my nice neutral language..no predictions LOL)
Nutrients are not much good if people will not eat the food.


From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Brungardt, Sam
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 9:12 AM
To: North American Fruit Explorers
Subject: [NAFEX] Watermelons Are Healthier When Served Warm

Watermelons Are Healthier When Served Warm 
07.31.06, 12:00 AM ET 
MONDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- For many Americans, nothing is better on
a hot day than biting into an ice-cold slice of watermelon. 

But scientists now say the juicy summer fruit is most nutritious when stored
and served at room temperature. 
Reporting in the Aug. 9 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food
Chemistry, the researchers based their premise on a tally that compared the
levels of key antioxidants in whole watermelons that were either
refrigerated or stored at room temperature for two weeks. 

"What we found was very surprising," said study author Penelope
Perkins-Veazie, a plant physiologist at the South Central Agricultural
Research Laboratory with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Lane,

"The amount of lycopene in watermelons went up about an average of 20
percent when we left them out uncut at room temperature, while beta carotene
actually doubled," she said. 

Perkins-Veazie noted that, like tomatoes, the red flesh of watermelons owes
its coloring to an abundance of lycopene, an organic pigment from the
carotenoid family that ranges in shade from pale yellow to deep red. 

Beta carotene -- another carotenoid -- is also a nutritional feature of
watermelons, although at far lower levels. 
Antioxidants gobble up cancer-causing free radical molecules that can damage
While it is known that light, temperature and moisture changes which occur
during harvesting and packaging can alter a watermelon's lycopene content by
10 percent to 20 percent, the researchers realized that little was known
about the impact storage can have once the heavy fruit is in the kitchen. 

To fill in the blanks, Perkins-Veazie and her USDA colleague Julie K.
Collins focused on three popular seeded and seedless varieties of

All were described by their Oklahoma harvesters as "fully ripe" when
acquired.  Whole, uncut samples of each of the melons were kept in a cooler
for one night at 68 degrees Fahrenheit (F) before being cut up and sampled
for color, condition and carotenoid content. 

Twenty samples of each melon variety were then weighed and stored in coolers
set at either 41, 55, or 70 degrees F. 
After two weeks, the researchers found that lycopene levels were dependent
on storage temperature. 
Compared to measurements taken at picking, carotenoid levels in melons
stored at room temperature were up between 11 percent and 40 percent,
depending on the variety. 

As visual proof of this biochemical development, the authors observed that,
after the 14 days of storage, the flesh of all three varieties of
watermelons kept at room temperature was darker than they had been when they
were freshly picked -- a sign of increased pigmentation from the lycopene

These room-temperature melons also had thinner rinds, a sign of continued
The flesh of melons stored at either of the below-room temperature levels,
by contrast, had not experienced any gains in carotenoids. 

Such melons either lost color or maintained the same color as when picked,
with no change in rind thickness. 
The researchers posited that a drop in carotenoid enzyme activity at the
colder temperatures might have halted a ripening process that continues the
build-up of beneficial antioxidants. 

"But we don't want people to think they can take cut watermelon and just
leave it out in room temperature, because that's a safety issue," cautioned

"If it's cut, you want to leave it in the fridge," she advised. "If it's
uncut, it's perfectly alright to leave it on the counter for a day or two,
and if you like cold watermelon -- which a lot of people do -- it's
perfectly alright to put it in the fridge to let it cool down a little
before eating it." 

Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University
of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, agreed that food safety
takes precedence over antioxidant concerns. 

"But you can leave certain fruits sitting out," she added. "If you're not
going to eat it right away, they don't have to be taking up space in your
fridge. In fact, there are several fruits that ripen better when left out --
peaches, bananas -- that not only end up having better nutrient quality but
also perhaps better taste." 

Connie Diekman, director of nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis,
did not think the study considered all the nutritional factors related to
the temperature issue. 

"I could not find where they looked at some of the water-soluble nutrients
in the melon which we know are very sensitive to light and air," Diekman
said. "So, I would be curious to know if there were changes to any of those
on a negative side that might have offset this positive." 

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