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The beloved watermelon is a staple during the summer months due to its high water content and natural ability to help you stay hydrated and refreshed on those hot and muggy days. Not only that, but you can find the versatile fruit in all sorts of shapes and sizes and even taste its sweet flavor in swanky Asian fusion restaurant dishes. With its bright red fleshy inside and bright green outside, it’s only natural for people to ask themselves the question,” Is watermelon a citrus fruit?
Watermelon is not a citrus fruit. Watermelon does not contain the trademark citric acid found in all citrus fruits. They come packed with vitamins, but citrus fruits are from the Rutaceae flowering plant family. Watermelon is from the Cucurbitaceae family, which are vine-like plants. In this article, we will explore all aspects of the watermelon and highlight other similarities and differences with the citrus family of plants.
The Origin of the Watermelon
The watermelon was first discovered 5000 years ago in South Africa. Its ancestral fruits were tougher and tolerant to the continent’s dry weather. As it contained a lot of water, most of the indigenous people in the region prized it. Unlike today’s sweeter variety, it had a bitter taste, and locals ate the seeds for their nutrition properties.
The watermelon changed when it traveled to Egypt, where it became more of a delicacy. It made its way to recipes, medical books, and religious texts. The Greeks believed it had medicinal properties, and the fruit made its way to China. Over time, it developed in Europe and India as well. It wasn’t until the 20th century that watermelons became more common in the US, thanks to several breeding projects. Since then, more watermelon farms in the country have sprung up.
Key Differences Between Watermelon and Citrus Fruits
As it has been established that watermelon isn’t a citrus fruit, we need to see the differences between it and the citrus family. Here are some key features that separate it:
Higher Lycopene Content
Watermelon is a lycopene-rich fruit similar to tomatoes. Lycopene has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It contributes to many health-boosting properties, such as preventing age-related degeneration. Watermelon is a recommended fruit to help protect against eye damage and deterioration.
Some citrus plants have lycopene, but they are smaller in comparison. Oranges have the most accumulated lycopene, but it is far from the rich content in watermelons.
They Do Better in Warmer Temperatures
Watermelons love the heat, producing the best fruit during the summer. Its heat tolerance likely stems from its origins in Africa, allowing it to survive in arid environments. Due to the many varieties that exist today, some can tolerate the cold better.
Citrus fruits also need sunshine and heat, but not too much. The best environment you can put them in are those above freezing. Tests show that warm temperatures produce the best citrus fruit. They do not do well in arid conditions.
Citrus fruits do have water content, but watermelon boasts the highest amount. It consists of 92% water which is why many prefer it for its hydrating effect. Watermelons feel light to eat, but they are more filling than other fruits due to their properties. Water content is also the reason many love eating watermelons during the summer.
Citrus fruits, on the other hand, do not have as much water; however, they do have electrolyte properties that help prevent the body from dehydrating. It is one of the reasons many citrus fruits are ingredients in sports drinks. They do not have the same refreshing effect as the watermelon but make up for it with their capacity to preserve water in the body.
Helps With Muscle Soreness
Watermelons contain citrulline, a form of amino acid used to help with heart recovery and muscle soreness. Citrulline is very effective. Many companies integrate it into their health supplements. Many athletes drink citrulline drinks or have watermelon juice as a part of their diet. Studies show that it helps improve endurance and also enhances exercise performance.
Citrus fruits also help the heart, but more for reducing the risk of any heart disease. They have fibers that help improve cholesterol levels by lowering the amount of bad cholesterol like LDLs. They are also good for the brain and can prevent neurodegenerative diseases. Some of their flavonoids protect the brain cells and improve brain function.
The taste of watermelon is fresh, sweet, and fruity. Many compare it to fruits like melons and cucumber. Its subtlety helps it match well with many other ingredients. In some areas, they mix watermelon with ingredients such as cinnamon, rosemary, and chili.
While citrus has some sweetness, it often comes with a sour taste due to the citric acid. Citrus fruits have a zesty effect, and good citrus fruits have a good balance of sweetness with sourness. When that balance is off, the fruit comes off as having a weird bitter taste. You can use all parts of citrus fruits for cooking and baking.
Is Watermelon a Citrus Fruit?
Citrus fruits do have some similarities with watermelons due to their similar health properties, but they are not the same. The watermelon works best for the muscles and eyes, while citrus fruits work best with the brain. They can both hydrate though watermelon contains more water. The biggest difference between them would be their taste.
Watermelon has a subtle, sweet, and fruity taste. In comparison, citrus fruits have a combination of sweetness and sourness. It’s rare to find bitter watermelons as cultivations today focus on their sweetness. The watermelon also thrives in hot and warm conditions, having more resiliency than citrus fruits.