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updated: 8/2/2011 2:49 PM

Watermelon full of lycopene

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  • Watermelon



Q. How nutritious is watermelon compared to other fruits?

A. Each cup of watermelon (about half a large slice) offers about 13 milligrams of vitamin C (14-17 percent of currently recommended daily intake).

This is not as high as cantaloupe or honeydew melon, or other high-C fruits such as kiwi, strawberries and oranges, but as one of seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, it makes an important contribution.

Watermelon is also an outstanding source of lycopene, an antioxidant phytochemical linked with lower risk of prostate. Lycopene is the carotenoid that gives tomatoes, watermelon, guava, and red and pink grapefruit their characteristic color.

Finally, watermelon also offers a weight-control bonus. A one-cup serving can satisfy a sweet tooth with just 49 calories, making it one of the fruits least concentrated in sugar and calories.

Q. Are there tricks to make it easier to start eating smaller portions at home where there is plenty of food?

A. Yes. Experiment with some of these ways people have learned to eat more appropriate portions and see what might work best for you.

If you control how much food is prepared and find that there is always more than is really needed, try cutting back on the amount you fix, especially on the foods you are trying to limit. If you don't want extras to take for lunch or freeze for a future meal, you'll save money and face less temptation.

If you currently put serving bowls on the table, consider keeping food off the table so you have to get up to get any second portions. Simply not having a bowl of food right in front of your eyes and the need to make an extra effort to get more is often enough to help you reconsider.

Try starting off with portions about 10 to 25 percent smaller than usual. Studies suggest that we are often satisfied with less than we think we need. Some people find it easier to take smaller portions if they use a slightly smaller plate. Others find that if they fill their plates with a large portion of vegetables or salad, it makes it easier to take smaller portions of everything else.

Allow for the possibility of going back for seconds if you are really hungry, but if you wait just a few minutes in between, you may be surprised at how often that perceived need for more passes quickly away.

Many people also note that when they eat more slowly and focus on really tasting their food, they are satisfied with smaller amounts.

• Provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Learn more about the group and it's New American Plate Program at