The Diet Detective: Favorite Fruits

Watermelon

Why: Low in calories, not too expensive and it's 92 percent water--which quenches your thirst and fills you up on a hot summer day.

Health Perks: Watermelon has 7.5 to 10 milligrams of the antioxidant lycopene (believed to guard against heart disease and some cancers) per cup. That's about 40 percent more than is found in raw tomatoes (cooked tomatoes have more). It's a good source of vitamins A and C, it and also contains potassium, vitamin B6 and thiamin. Plus, it has citrulline, an amino acid that may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stimulate the immune system and accelerate the healing of wounds.

Nutrition: Serving size: 1 cup, diced (152g), calories 46, total fat 0.2g, cholesterol 0mg, sodium 2mg, total carbohydrate 11.5g, dietary fiber 0.6g, sugars 9.4g, protein 0.9g.

Seek Out: Firm, juicy, red flesh without white streaks and a rind free of cracks, bruises or mold. The seeds should be dark brown or black. According to James Parker, associate global produce coordinator for Whole Foods Market, "Look for melons that have a uniform shape (not small on one end and larger on the other). Ripe fruit will have a slight give on the end opposite to the stem and a slight yellowing of the rind on the lightest part of the outside."

If you can't cut a plug and peek inside (the best way to see if it's ripe), Peter Romano, the produce director at New York City's famed Fairway Market, says you can tap the melon in the middle with your palm: If it's ripe, you should hear a hollow sound.

Avoid: Pale flesh, white streaks and whitish seeds (if you can peek inside). The rind should be free of bruises, soft spots or mold. "And make sure there are no splits, veins, hollow pockets, dark red streaks or blood-red (as opposed to fire-engine-red) color," says Romano.

Storage: According to chef Aliza Green, author of Field Guide to Produce (Quirk Books, 2004), ripe watermelon will keep best (for about five days) if cut up, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated.

Interesting: Watermelon is also a vegetable--a relative of the pumpkin and squash family.

Peaches

Why: They are sweet, don't raise blood sugar levels and are very low in calories.

Health Perks: One peach delivers 10 percent of the vitamin C you need and two grams of fiber. And peaches have a low glycemic load.

Nutrition: Serving size: one medium (2 2/3" diameter), calories 58, total fat 0.4g, total carbohydrate 14.3g, dietary fiber 2.2g, sugars 12.6g, protein 1.4g.

Seek Out: According to Green, "Make sure that the stem end is yellow or cream-colored. Also, look for a well-defined crease and a pleasingly sweet fragrance. They should be soft to the touch."

Avoid: "Make sure that the peach doesn't have 'green shoulders' around the stem, suggesting premature picking. A deep, red-brown color, softening of the fruit or shriveling of the skin at the stem indicates it's over-ripe," advises Green. Never squeeze peaches: They bruise.

Storage: Don't store in the refrigerator or in sunlight. One of the better ways to ripen peaches is to place them in a brown paper bag, fold the top and leave them for a day or so.

Interesting: Peaches are originally from China, where they are considered a symbol of longevity.

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