Few things instantly evoke such powerful memories of summer and can put an smile on your face quite as quick as the thought of capping off a backyard barbecue with a big tray of freshly sliced, ripe and juicy watermelon. I mean, seriously, just think about it for a moment… you can almost taste it, can’t you? It’s pretty safe to say that most people love this flavorful fruit, but few realize that watermelons are actually jam-packed with tons of health benefits, making them a truly perfect summertime snack.
Watermelons owe their gorgeous red color to the powerful antioxidant lycopene, just like tomatoes. In recent years, lycopene has being recognized by the scientific community as an especially important nutrient for cardiovascular health. The consumption of lycopene-rich foods, like watermelon, have been connected to an improvement in blood flow by acting as a vasodilator and have shown some ability to potentially lower LDL, aka bad cholesterol, making lycopene doubly good for your heart.
Another benefit of lycopene-rich foods is that they improve bone health by reducing oxidative stress, which can lead to bone problems, among other health issues. Recent studies have shown that lycopene may provide an alternative natural treatment for the prevention and management of osteoporosis, especially in post-menopausal women.
Watermelon is also a great source of citrulline, a nonessential alpha-amino acid that has been shown to enhance the utilization of essential amino acids during exercise and increase blood flow. Consider including watermelon in your pre and post workout routines as it can reduce recovery time after exercise and help further increase growth hormone levels after resistance training.
Your body naturally converts the citrulline found in watermelon into arginine in the kidneys. There is some preliminary evidence from animal studies that shows that the conversion of citrulline into arginine may help prevent excess accumulation of fat in fat cells, which is always a good thing.
As its name would suggest, watermelon is full of water… shocking! But in addition to that water, this fruit is also a good source of electrolytes which help you to stay hydrated and replace the minerals that are lost when you sweat.
Watermelon is a natural diuretic which helps increase the flow of urine, but does not put undue strain on your body, unlike coffee or alcohol. Regular consumption of watermelon helps to ease strain on the kidneys while your body eliminates excess fluids.
Watermelons contain several phenolic compounds that are beneficial in reducing inflammation in the body and have been proposed as an alternative natural approach to prevent or treat chronic inflammatory diseases.
Watermelon is a good source of potassium, which is absolutely essential for our bodies to function properly. Among other things, low potassium levels can lead to mental fogginess and confusion because, without adequate levels of this extremely important mineral, the electrical signals that drive the brain are interrupted.
Watermelon is also a delicious way to get your daily dose of vitamin C, with one serving containing about 16% of your day’s requirement. Vitamin C is regarded as one of the safest and most effective nutrients around and has been shown to improve immunity and overall health.
As the flesh of a watermelon ripens and turns from white to pink to red, it doesn’t just get more sweet and delicious but also more nutritious as the density of its antioxidants gradually increases, so be sure to wait until your watermelon is fully ripe before you enjoy your perfect anytime treat.
Tell us your favorite ways to enjoy a delicious and healthy watermelon in the comments below.
Featured photo credit: Watermelon / Harsha K R via flic.kr
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