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Owen County Extension Service News: Do you really need a good reason to celebrate National Watermelon Day?

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By Judy Hetterman

In case you need another reason to enjoy a juicy, sweet, delicious slice of watermelon, now you have one: Aug. 3 is National Watermelon Day.
Ice-cold watermelon is a wonderful and nutritious treat on a hot summer day. It’s over 90 percent water, so it’s a great way to keep yourself and your kids hydrated after a long day at the lake, playing outside or a sports camp.
The watermelon is grown on a vine and is related to the cantaloupe, squash and pumpkin. There are many different kinds of watermelon, many of which are grown in Kentucky. They can be spherical or oblong in shape, they have thick green rinds that are often spotted or striped and they come in uniquely colored melon varieties, such as yellow-fleshed. Seedless watermelons have helped this crop become more popular in recent years.
Watermelon is an excellent, low-calorie, nutritious snack. Two cups of watermelon provide just 80 calories. Despite being mostly water, you’re still getting adequate amounts of vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as getting as much lycopene as a tomato. (Lycopene is a plant compound that gives plants their red, orange, and yellow color and acts as an antioxidant that protects cells from damage.)
For more information on using watermelon check with the Owen County Extension office or go to www.watermelon.org.
Picking a good watermelon is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
1. Look the watermelon over. You are looking for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts, or dents.
2. Lift it up. The watermelon should feel heavy for its size.
3. Turn it over. The underside of a watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.

Source: Janet Mullins, Extension Specialist for Food and Nutrition, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture.