Monday, June 4, 2012

Should you eat cherries and waterrmelon?

Semi typical bbq spread
As summer approaches, one of the food perks is increasingly exciting fruit. Over Memorial Day weekend, I received a couple of emails from clients wondering “can I eat cherries and watermelon?”  The easy answer, if you’re at let’s say a barbeque is if you’re choosing between cherries or watermelon and this
then let’s be sensible, fruit is always the healthier pick. This seems obvious but if cherries and watermelon are mentally categorized as “all sugar” things get confusing.  If we’re comparing “apples to apples” or in this case cherries to apples, how do we judge a fruit and which are best to eat?

When you’re at a market or farm stand, if everything isn’t organic you want to choose wisely.  Many of your berries are on the dirty dozen list. Cherries are higher pesticide and really should be purchased organic. Watermelon on the other hand is a member of the “Clean 15” a low pesticide fruit. If organic isn’t an option, watermelon is one of your best choices. If you're unconvinced about organic, plug a few favorite fruits into this site; they list pesticides and type (carcinogen, endocrine disrupter the appetizing list goes on) it's eye opening to say the least. 
Score 1 for watermelon.

Another gauge for fruits is ORAC a measure of antioxidants. While cherries don’t have an ORAC score as high as blueberries or blackberries, they have a commendable 3747. Watermelon comes in at 140. These scores are per 100 grams of food so the water content of watermelon works against it here.
Cherries a winer here.

Calories, Fiber, Sugar
All fruit is fairly low in calories. Watermelon and strawberries are some of the lowest with cherries and grapes almost double in calories. Fiber all stars include raspberries and blackberries with 8 grams per cup. Cherries have 3 and watermelon only 1 gram. For me, this is a drawback of these fruits. Fiber helps promote satiety and regularity. I advise clients to keep lower fiber fruits for snacks; at breakfast higher fiber choices are preferable to start your day. Another great measure for foods is Glycemic Load (different from glycemic index as it takes into account commonly consumed portions). Most non-dried fruits are low GL (less than 10). Grapes, bananas and cherries are higher and watermelon, apples and strawberries are less than 5 or very low.
Watermelon lower in calories and Glycemic Load.
Cherries have slightly more fiber.

Bragging Rights
With Father’s day approaching, if you’re stumped on what to get for dad (or your husband, father in law, grandfather etc.), you may want to consider watermelon . Watermelon contains more lycopene than tomatoes making it my #1 prostate health food. Cherries have their own reasons to brag. Cherries and more potently cherry juice is on par with aspirin as a pain reliever. It’s useful for pain from both gout and exercise and has been tested in studies with athletes. Cherries also have notable melatonin content.

So, are watermelon and cherries good to eat? They are, they’re both healthy. If you’re actively trying to lose weight I would choose watermelon over cherries. And just for a reminder with all the delicious summer fruit, in the name of knowledge is power it is possible to overfruit.
Are you a cherry and watermelon eater or are you "sugary fruit"phobic? What are your favorite fruits and approximately how much fruit do you have a day?  Any fruits you limit? For extra credit who said “knowledge is power”?
“Googling is cheating”
 Lauren Slayton
 nutritionist, googler and hypocrite
Our contribution to baseball snack this weekend (watermelon). The next day someone brings doughnuts to game with some silly "Bloomberg says these are ok" disclaimer/joke, not funny.


  1. fullbellysistersJune 4, 2012 at 3:31 AM

    I'm much more of a veggie person than a fruit person - fruit can be so inconsistent! But when you get to that point in the summertime when cherries are (1) really delicious and (2) affordable, I totally eat them. I love watermelon, too - especially with some paper-thin red onions and crumbled feta, or in a slushie with lime juice and chia seeds - combining it makes it more filling/satisfying :-)

  2. A very good point about eating fruits in combination with other foods. I don't always like sweet in my savory but the addition of protein (seeds/nuts) can make a difference. 

  3. fullbellysistersJune 4, 2012 at 3:57 AM

    I don't always like sweet in my savory but I almost always like savory in my sweet ;-)

  4. Gina (Candid RD)June 4, 2012 at 4:11 AM

    Interestingly, watermelon and cherries are on my no no list (too many fodmaps).  I agree, fruit is almost always the better choice at a BBQ, because it typically takes the place of a high calorie and sugar dessert. I also agree that some fruits are better than others, but I typically tell people to eat what they like (because most of the people I see don't eat ANY fruits or veggies!).  Remember the blog post I Wrote about the stupid Weight Watchers points? Ugh, all the fruit you lame!

  5. School house rocky, a chip off the block. It's you're favorite schoolhouse--schoolhouse rock! (sing it in your head as you read it)
    I have the DVD with every schoolhouse rock on it. I show a few to my students every year.
    Last summer, I lived off fruit during my first trimester. Everything else made me nauseous. Watermelon, cherries and raspberries were some of the main ones (all organic). I love all the fresh berries in summer, but I'll balance things out better this summer. ;)

  6. Thanks for all the fruit comparisons. It's a nice refresher and I can't wait to check out that pesticide website!

    As for me, I am NOT a fruit-phobic and quite frankly I get ANNOYED when people say fruit is too high in sugar. Fruit is a wonderful source of nutrition, no matter what the natural sugar content. With all the crap we consume in this world, I think fruit is one of the last things we really need to worry about. I DO agree you can over fruit but MOST of my clients under fruit so promote I do!! If they eat 5 pieces a day in place of their usual chips, cookies, etc...I'm a happy dietitian. Persoinally I usually have 2-3 fruits a day. No harm, no foul.

  7. I wouldn't hesitate to eat either one, though, it's true, watermelon will fill you up a lot quicker than cherries.  I probably average 2-3 servings of fruits per day, and I love them all, especially since I try to eat only fruit that it is in season.  I do get pretty excited about summer fruits, especially nectarine, cherries, and raspberries. Yum!  Thanks for sharing the website/app-I wasn't familiar with that one.

  8. a fellow savory girl or should I say savory sister? Ha.

  9. Fodmap, another good criteria to judge. Yes, mentioned ww in my overfruiting, why do we always need something unlimited?

  10. I recall you have a "fruity" family. Are the trees/fruit you guys have sprayed?

  11. Agree that we need perspective but also depends on population you are targeting. My clients, for the most part, don't come in eating tons of crap. For them, limiting (not cutting out) fruit is sometimes helpful. 

  12. fullbellysistersJune 4, 2012 at 6:36 AM

    for sure :-)

  13. I actually have to remind myself to eat fruit every day (but I never have to remind myself to eat all sorts of veggies, which I love.) I usually eat one piece/serving, sometimes two. I do love watermelon and often have some around in the summer. I also love cherries but don't eat that many (mainly because it gets very pricy quickly).

    Thanks for the comparison of the different fruits in this post. It was really helpful!

  14. Fresh fruit is one of my favorite parts of summer.  I'm sure I overdo it, but I'd rather overdo fruit than the other stuff I'm liable to binge on instead.  Those watermelon skewers look divine!

  15. I once didn't like fruit at all, now I eat it every day. As a matter of fact, for the first time in my life I had the thought, "Well then what the heck am I supposed to eat?" when I read this post. That was discouraging. And since I read it before my feet hit the floor, it wasn't a good beginning! I think I'm past it now. I don't think I overfruit, but don't count, so I suppose it is entirely possible.  

  16. Eat fruit, of course eat fruit but depending on your goals, pick accordingly and then don't have 10 pieces of fruit a day. I'm here to encourage and inform, I feel terrible (see now it's contagious).

  17. you too can skewer, I like that tern much better than kebob btw. And Marie, any great graduation speeches? I always count on your for pointing them out.

  18. I love when we can use price to our advantage, see Caron, Andrea wasn't upset she found it helpful. 

  19. OH, gosh, my post sounds whiny and I didn't mean it that way. I just had this awful feeling that I was substituting all the sugary crap for sugary fruit and telling myself it was ok because there was fiber involved and that I'd have to eat raw spinach forever. Obviously waking up in a dramatic mood isn't prime. Don't feel terrible! 

  20. I'll give you the prenatal excuse. The question was who said the quote originally...

  21. I would love to read Gina's post about Weight Watcher's and how they treat fruit (non) points.  So interesting to me!  I recently decided to try Weight Watchers and stopped after a month for many reasons, but the fruit thing I thought was ridiculous!  This was a great post, Lauren!

  22. It depends on how much weight you need to lose/unlimited fruit isn't effective for everyone. 

  23. I eat fruit maybe once a day...usually in a smoothie in the morning. It's easy and fast when I'm trying to get to work!

    I'd take cherries over watermelon any day.

    And I'm a hypocrite in so many different ways I've lost count!

  24. Nope! Organic gardening at our house :-)