Thursday, September 13, 2007

Would You Eat A Reduced-Sugar, Low-Carb Watermelon?

These watermelons may look normal, but they have about half the sugar

Leave it to modern-day technology in research labs to come up with some creative ways to make the foods we eat even healthier. We saw an attempt earlier this year at this concept when scientists figured out a way to produce natural low-fat milk straight from the cow (although that wasn't very healthy, IMHO!). But now there's something low-carbers and diabetics alike should cheer: a low-sugar watermelon (my low-carb blogging friend Robin from "Limenade And Watermelon" will be thrilled)!

Yep, have you heard about this yet? This Science News story details what researchers have come up with as the perfect replacement for this higher-sugar member of the melon family. You'll recall I addressed this in Episode 2 of my "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb on YouTube" video when my wife asked if watermelon was appropriate for someone on low-carb.

While it's not too terribly high in carbs, watermelon is a little higher than you would prefer for those in the early stages of the Atkins low-carb diet where you restrict your intake to around 20g daily. At about 11g net carbs for a cup of watermelon, that usually makes this fruit off limits for people trying to lose weight the low-carb way.

But now a research geneticist named Angela R. Davis from the USDA's Lane, Oklahoma-based Agricultural Research Service gives hope that this plump, juicy summertime favorite can be back on the menu again for those of us leading a lower-sugar, low-carb lifestyle! They have been working on this for years and wanted it to be perfect before releasing the technology to seed companies to replicate the results for consumer production.

Early experiments resulted in white and even yellow flesh for the watermelon--not exactly the most appetizing way to eat watermelon (kinda like the green ketchup from Heinz was for me a few years back--EWWWW!).

"The project took a lot longer than we expected," Davis remarked. "Because there's a correlation between color and sugar content."

Finally they found a way to make the flesh turn pink while virtually cutting the sugar in half! So, instead of 11g net carbs for a cup of watermelon, how about 5g instead? WOO HOO! The lighter the red in the watermelon, the lower the sugar content. And thus is born a low-carb, reduced-sugar watermelon thanks to science.

Details about these new genetically altered low-sugar watermelons will be published in the journal HortScience before the end of the year.

I bet you're wondering how they taste (yeah, me too!). Well, Davis says that will be the primary issue for people who switch from regular watermelon to this one. But for those of us who already eschew sugar in our diet to manage our weight and/or diabetes, it'll probably taste pretty good. I liken it to switching from regular soda to diet soda. The transition takes some getting used to, but it happens.

Just as the soda companies use artificial sweeteners to replace the sugar in their products, so too will those sweeteners come in handy for people choosing to eat this lower-sugar watermelon. I, of course, would recommend either Splenda or stevia if you feel like you need to use a sweetener at all.

Davis said they ran taste tests among teenagers and adults with diabetes and the low-sugar, artificially-sweetened (with Splenda!) watermelons actually BEAT the regular watermelon among those surveyed. WOW! There may be hope for us yet with those kind of results!

"Overall, there was a significant preference for the artificially sweetened watermelons compared with the conventional watermelons," the researchers concluded.

What's so healthy about eating watermelon, you ask? In a word--LYCOPENE! Yes, you can find this awesome nutrient in tomatoes (which gives it that rich, red color!) and it is a powerful antioxidant responsible for destroying free radicals which can wreak havoc on your health. You'll be pleased to know that these reduced-sugar watermelons retain their high lycopene content!

"A low-sugar watermelon is a palatable fruit choice to individuals who must restrict sugar or total carbohydrate intake--with the added benefits of lycopene," the researchers added.

These new reduced-sugar watermelons will look like a typical 10-12 pound watermelon when they do become available in stores--no specific date as of yet. We'll let you know when they're available and will try to blog about how they taste when we get our hands on them. I would think an ice-cold low-sugar watermelon should be ready for consumption by the time the dog days of summer hit in 2008. I can't wait!

You can e-mail Angela Davis to thank her for her research into making watermelons lower in sugar for those of us on carb-restricted diets for weight and diabetes control at

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Blogger jpatti said...

I don't really see what is wrong with regular watermelon... 11g/cup is pretty low-carb.

I wish they'd work on higher-carb fruits instead... the stuff I can't really eat much. Give me a low-carb tangerine, a low-carb apple!

9/14/2007 2:38 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Yep, I'd love to see a low-sugar banana since there are 29g carbs in them! Get that down to single digits and have it taste good with artificial sweeteners, THEN YOU HAVE SOMETHING COOL! :D

9/14/2007 8:18 AM  
Blogger Pot Kettle Black said...

Hrm. This seems backwards somehow.
You take something that's reportedly good the way it is (11g/cup is not much, and 20g Induction is about changing your palate as much as jump starting your diet). You modify it (it must be some kind of genetic mod, otherwise it wouldn't be replantable) to have less natural fructose (which is lighter on the insulin response than HFCS), and then, because we haven't changed our palate, you add artificial sweetener or stevia to it to return it to it's natural sweetness. Descartes is coming behind the horse, me thinks.

FWIW: Tomatoes are a much better source of lycopene.

FWIW #2: I dunno about others, but watermelon is so mildly flavored, I can live without. Re: mild flavor, it's probably no wonder that people prefer the GM-low sugar watermelon with artificial sweetener to plain old watermelon. It's probably got more flavor.

FWIW Final: Watermelon flesh is not always pink. There are yellow ones. I bet they are low in lycopene though.

9/14/2007 10:03 AM  
Blogger Megie said...

I can hardly wait for the new and improved,low carb melon. I'm with you on the banana too. Fruit is such a tasty and easy fill-in between meals.

9/14/2007 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somebody please get me a low sugar grape or pineapple!!

9/14/2007 2:56 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey Megie! THANKS for dropping by my blog today. :D

LOVE your new blog by the way. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!!

9/14/2007 4:25 PM  
Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

Personally I find this disgusting and outrageous.

Please people, don't applaud this crap.

Honestly, why are we allowing these people to mess with natural products?

Next it's GMO food....soon enough the real watermelon becomes extinct.

Remember humans have not shown the ability to do things like this in moderation.

Another strike against Mother Nature, and dare I say against a creation of God?

Wanna eat less carbs and sugar? Eat less of the items that contain them. Don't mess with nature.

9/15/2007 7:07 AM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

While were on the subject of hybrid why don't we look at grains and vegetables and fruits and and then realize that our addictions to these hybrid carbs is what is causing all of this enticement and desire to eat all of this sugar. We are sugar addicts feeding and refining our sugar habits like connoisseurs of liquor and tobacco and coffee and chocolate doing the same thing. All the exotics and varieties that we love to get high on. I'm in a hurry and exhausted so I can't articulate fully but this my friends is where the 'heart of the matter' lies I kid you not. We are drug addicts and carbohydrates are our drug! I am no longer addicted! I am eating three pounds of meat a day and doing great except for day after day of 16 and 18 hour days bring me to a state of exhaustion. Three weeks to go. Best to you all, Tom

9/15/2007 7:42 AM  
Blogger BamaGal said...

I have to agree with Dave. This is not a good thing. People this is not real food---it is just another food product.

If you get away from artificially sweetened things, real foods natural sweetness comes through. You'd be surprised how sweet a green bean tastes when you aren't always stuffing your body with fake foods and artificial sweeteners.

9/15/2007 12:01 PM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

Your not going to believe this but for my lunches, which are actually my full days eating that I take with me during harvest days, here is what I like a lot. I cook 1# packages of hamburger in a large patty and then freeze them. Then if I'm hungry before there even thawed all the way I eat them as I'm driving. I just knaw on the frozen chunk of hamburger and it comes off easily because it is frozen granuals of meat. This is what your not going to believe. It tastes like a frozen drumstick ice cream bar, the ones with the chocolate and nuts on the top and in a waffle cone. Yup, pure frozen hamburger tastes that good. I swear!

9/15/2007 8:57 PM  
Blogger Cutie said...

stepford watermelon???

what on earth will they think of, next?

9/15/2007 9:43 PM  

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