Despite the popular belief that watermelon is only water and sugar, they are actually considered a nutrient dense super-food providing high amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Watermelon contains significant levels of vitamins A, B-6, C, antioxidants, amino acids, a modest amount of potassium, and lots of the phytonutrient lycopene. Lycopene, a known cancer-fighting agent, is a naturally occurring compound in fruits and vegetables that triggers healthy, life-affirming reactions in the human body. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable. It also gives watermelon, tomatoes, red grapefruit and guava their color.
Citrulline is another phytonutrient in watermelon. The amino acid citrulline converts to the amino acid arginine, which promotes blood flow and improved circulation. Here are some of the many benefits of incorporating watermelon into your regular diet.
Digestion & Regularity: Watermelon, because of its water, fiber and magnesium content, helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
Hydration: Made up of 92% water and full of important electrolytes, watermelon is a great snack to have on hand during the hot summer months to help prevent dehydration.
Inflammation: Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in watermelon that aids our bodies in sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. Choline also helps maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.
Muscle Recovery: Watermelon and watermelon juice have been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time following exercise in athletes. Researchers believe this is likely do to the amino acid L-citrulline contained in watermelon.
Skin Health: Watermelon is also great for your skin because it contains vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production that keeps hair moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair. Adequate intake of vitamin C (one cup of watermelon provides 21% of daily needs) is also needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair. Watermelon also contributes to overall hydration, which is vital for having healthy looking skin and hair.
Anti-Cancer: As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C as well as other antioxidants, watermelon can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. Lycopene intake has been linked with a decreased risk of prostate cancer in several studies.
Blood Pressure: Diets rich in lycopene may help protect against heart disease. A study published by the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon extract supplementation reduced ankle blood, brachial blood pressure and carotid wave reflection in obese middle-aged adults with pre-hypertension or stage-1 hypertension and that watermelon extract improved arterial function.
Watermelon also contains pantothenic acid, folate, magnesium, and trace minerals such as copper, selenium and zinc among other nutrients that are vital to healthy biochemical reactions, neuromuscular activity, and other bodily functions. So have fun in the sun, and remember to eat lots of watermelon.
Sources: BHIA.org; LiveScience.com; MedicalNewsToday.com