|Perkins Veazie, Penelope|
Submitted to: Cucurbitacea
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/18/2002
Publication Date: 12/1/2002
Citation: PERKINS VEAZIE, P.M., COLLINS, J.K., PAIR, S.D., ROBERTS, W. WATERMELON: LYCOPENE CONTENT CHANGES WITH RIPENESS STAGE, GERMPLASM, AND STORAGE. CUCURBITACEA. 2002. p. 427-430.
Interpretive Summary: Lycopene imparts a red color to tomatoes, watermelon, and red grapefruit. This pigment has strong antioxidant properties, and consumption of lycopene-rich fruits has been implicated in reduced incidence of certain cancers. A study was done to determine how production practices and varieties influence the lycopene content of watermelon. Red-fleshed watermelons contained the most lycopene, and content was comparable to that of tomatoes (36 to 78 mg/kg fresh weight). Lycopene content of ripe and overripe melons was usually higher than that of unripe melons. Fresh cut (minimally processed) melons lost very little lycopene after refrigerated storage. Melons stored whole at low temperatures (5 C) for 2 weeks lost about 15% of total lycopene, while melons held at 21 C gained about 15% lycopene compared to freshly harvested fruit. These results indicate that watermelon contains substantial amounts of lycopene and that lycopene in watermelon is relatively stable.
Technical Abstract: A high dietary intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced incidence of atherosclerosis and some cancers. The processes involved in these preventative actions are largely unknown, but may be partly due to the ability of the body to rid itself of highly charged particles (radicals) formed during normal metabolism, and by inactivation of known carcinogenic substances. One of the most efficient free radical scavengers is the carotenoid lycopene. This red pigment is found in only a few of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the Western diet. In this study, red-fleshed watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) of 18 cultivars (seeded and seedless types) were found to contain large amounts of lycopene, ranging from 38 to 75 ug/g. Fully ripe cultivars contained 10 and 20% more lycopene than overripe or under ripe fruit, respectively. Storage of whole fruit for 14 days at 5 or 13 oC reduced lycopene content by 6-10%. Lycopene content of cut watermelon cubes was reduced by 7 to 10% after 7 to 10 days storage at 2 oC. These results indicate that watermelon germplasm contains considerable variability in total lycopene content, and that lycopene content can be influenced by maturity and storage.