Is there anything more Chinese then snacking on watermelon seeds? If you have not noticed all the small piles of seed casings around, on the sidewalks or on benches in the parks, in the ash trays of tea houses and coffee shops then you have not been very observant of Chinese culture.
Eating watermelon seeds seems to be one of those simple habits that have endured over many years , at least over 100 years to be sure. In an article from a journal called the Metropolitan in 1854, the author, writing on the importance of watermelon to the Chinese, notes”Accordingly the Chinese use them at all times and in all places. If friends meet to drink tea, or rice wine, a plate of water-melon seeds is a necessary accompaniment. They eat them while travelling, while going through the streets on business: …” such a scene could be recounted all over Shanghai today.
A simple habit it may be but eating watermelon seeds is also a healthy eating habit to adopt.
Watermelon seeds are a remarkable source of protein. In 1 ounce ( 28 gm) of seeds there is 8 gm of protein, as much as a chicken egg or 30 gm of tofu. The seed , inside the hard husk the seed is thin and has a sweet , nutty taste. These mini seeds are rich sources of magnesium and phosphorus both important minerals for bone health, cell maintenance and repair, and the production of energy. Magnesium is essential for a healthy nervous system and plays a role in regulating blood glucose levels.
From the viewpoint of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the seeds are used to improve kidney function by promoting urination. The seeds are also thought to have a vasodilation effect on the cardiovascular system which can lower high blood pressure. Along with munching a handful at a time, the dried seeds can be boiled and consumed as a tea.
If you haven’t tried eating watermelon seeds , nutrition month just may be the time to branch out and pick up a Chinese habit. It has got to be easier than stinky tofu!
Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!