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Wild About Watermelon

One way to get through the cold and dark of winter, or the rainy days of spring, is with an eye on the sunny, warmer days of summer. Bring some summertime foods to your here-and-now by adding watermelon to your plate. Watermelon not only evokes sweet summertime memories; it’s actually loaded with nutrition.

Watermelon is rich in vitamins and other nutrients, including vitamins A, B6, C, and potassium, and has a myriad health benefits. Here are more reasons why watermelon can be a healthy addition to your diet.

1.     Rich in Antioxidant All-Star Lycopene. Tomatoes are often lauded for their lycopene content, but as it turns out, watermelon is the top contender of any fruit or vegetable. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that gives red fruits and veggies their color, and has also been shown to lower cancer risk, prevent heart disease, support eye health, and protect cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Lycopene may even help lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as prevent oxidative damage brought on by high cholesterol levels. On average, watermelon contains 40 percent more lycopene than raw tomatoes.

2.     A Hydration Powerhouse. Hydration isn’t just a concern during the summertime heat; staying hydrated is a year-round concern, and it can be easy to forget just how drying the winter months can be. Given its name, it should come as no surprise that watermelon is more than 90 percent water, making it a helpful way to meet your water intake for the day. Whether you’re sweating after a workout or from high temperatures, you can refresh yourself and restore electrolytes by sprinkling a little salt on a slice or two of watermelon.

3.     Supports Healthy Digestion. Not only does watermelon’s water and fiber content help keep food moving through the digestive tract, it contains polyphenols that feed that “good” bacteria in your gut. However, it should be noted that watermelon is a high FODMAP food that may be difficult for some people with IBS to digest, and will instead cause bloating issues. FODMAP intolerance varies by individual and by food, so consider trying a small portion to see how it affects you.  

4.     Keeps Your Skin Glowing. While hydration is also key to healthy skin, watermelon does so much more than that. Vitamin C is key for collagen production and vitamin B6 has been linked to breakout prevention. Vitamin A, which you might know better in your skin care as retinol, repairs skin cells. You can even make a simple facemask by mixing a tablespoon of watermelon juice with a tablespoon of Greek yogurt. Leave on for 10 to 20 minutes, wash off, and admire your refreshed complexion!

5.     May Have Anticancer Properties. In addition to being rich in lycopene, watermelon also contains a plant compound called cucurbitacin E, which may inhibit tumor growth by promoting the autophagy of cancer cells, aka, the process by which your body removes damaged cells. Additionally, lycopene is thought to lower blood levels of insulin-like growth factor, a hormone that promotes cancer cell division and propagation.   

6.     Eases Achy Muscles. Watermelon is rich in so many beneficial nutrients, but here’s another you might not be aware of: citrulline. Citrulline is a compound that helps produce nitric oxide which aids circulation, improves muscle function, and lowers blood pressure. Nitric oxide also helps clear ammonia from your body, thereby lowering lactic acid build up. 

7.     Supports Eye Health. In addition to its vitamin A content, which supports corneal health, the antioxidants found in watermelon may also prevent or delay cataract development as well as lower your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. 

8.     A Truly Waste-Free Food. It may come as a surprise that you can—and probably should—eat watermelon rind and seeds. The rind is higher in fiber and lower in sugar than the flesh, which further slows sugar absorption when eaten together. And like the flesh, it also contains citrulline which is good for blood pressure and muscle fatigue. While you might have been warned off swallowing the seeds as a kid, they’re actually quite nutritious. They won’t sprout in your belly but they will give you a healthy dose of magnesium, folate, and mono-and polyunsaturated fats.

Can’t bring yourself to eat the seeds, plant them in your garden for yet another nutritious watermelon at the end of the season.

Delicious Watermelon Recipes

While simply adding some cut watermelon to your plate is a perfectly acceptable way to enjoy its nutritious benefits, you can also get creative with it.

·       For fun and yummy dessert, freeze two cups of cubed watermelon overnight. Once frozen, add the cubes and the juice of half a lime to a food processor, then blend until you reach a sorbet consistency.

·       Another great way to use frozen watermelon is in a smoothie. Combine frozen watermelon, vanilla Greek yogurt, and a little liquid (water, nut milk, coconut water, etc.) to a blender for a creamy watermelon smoothie.

·       How about one of my all-time favorite recipes – Watermelon Lime Gazpacho. Super easy to make and just the yummiest summertime soup. Click the green title link for the recipe.

·       Curious about eating the rind? Try turning it into pickles! Check out this recipe from the National Watermelon Promotion Board: Watermelon Rind Pickles

·       Don’t forget the seeds, either. While you can simply eat them raw, you can also roast them for a truly unique and nutrient-rich snack.

If you’re curious about the hidden benefits found in other everyday foods, or are curious how you can make your diet more deliciously diverse, click the link to contact me. I’m here to help you make the best decisions for your plate—and your overall health.


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