Most people discard the rind of the juicy watermelon, but don’t be so hasty – the watermelon rind has many benefits. Whether you eat the rind or use it topically, this often-wasted food can do good things for your body. Finding a use for it also helps cut down on the amount of garbage you produce, so it’s good for the environment as well.
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The rind may not be as juicy as the flesh of a watermelon, but you can eat it. A 1-inch cube of watermelon rind contains 1.8 calories. The majority of the calories come from carbohydrates, with 0.32 g per serving. While you will not derive a tremendous amount of macronutrients from eating watermelon rind, this food does contain some vitamins. One serving provides 2 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C and 1 percent of the vitamin B-6 your body requires every day. This makes watermelon rind good for your skin and immunity, as well as the health of your nervous system.
Considered primarily a Southern food, pickles made from watermelon rind offer a tart taste and stretch your food dollars. Homemade pickles made from watermelon rind offer an inexpensive alternative to purchased pickles. Because watermelon rind is often thrown out and not used, finding ways to use it for food, such as pickles, relishes or jam, extends the functionality of this fruit. You can cut the rind into spears and chunks, as well as shred it for recipes. The crunch and texture mimic pickles made from cucumbers, and you get the most use out of the fruit.
Watermelon rind contains a compound known as citrulline, according to a study published in the June 2005 issue of the “Journal of Chromatography.” Citrulline might serve up a range of medicinal benefits. Evidence in the March 2011 edition of the “Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture” suggests that the citrulline in watermelon rinds gives it antioxidant effects that protect you from free-radical damage. Additionally, citrulline converts to arginine, an amino acid vital to the heart, circulatory system and immune system, says researchers from Texas A&M’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center. These researchers speculate that watermelon rind might relax blood vessels and have a role in treating erectile dysfunction.
Sautee chopped watermelon rinds in olive oil -- season them with salt and pepper for added flavor, or get creative by using a mixture of red chili flakes, paprika and cilantro. Use watermelon rinds, along with carrots, potatoes and parsnips, to add bulk and nutritional value to stews, or juice watermelon rinds for a nutrient-packed beverage.