One of the joys of summer is the luscious fruits. The biggest of these in many ways is watermelon. One of Nature’s sweetest, watermelon packs a nutritious wallop as big as its size implies. When juiced, there’s very little pulp (great mixed in plain whole yogurt or kefir!) and mostly liquid—hence the name. The juice therefore is jam-packed with vitamins and phytonutrients!
The big deal about watermelon.
L-citrulline is an amino acid, that is found in large quantities in the largest of melons. Move over, Viagra—L-citrulline has been found effective in reducing erectile dysfunction—without pharmaceutical side effects. (1) This amino acid is used by athletes for promoting rapid muscle recovery after exertion.
Unsurprisingly, watermelon is well-known to protect against prostate cancer.
The redder, the better
What’s special about watermelon is its concentration of lycopene, the pigment that makes it red. Only a few fruits contain this potent antioxidant, along with tomato, papaya, persimmon, and pink guava.
Lycopene is a carotenoid—like the antioxidant in carrots—but unlike carrots, it doesn’t turn into vitamin A in the body but acts on its own.
Watermelon happens to contain a bunch of vitamin A, too—for healthy eyes and skin. Its ratio of lycopene to carotene (1:12) compounds the antioxidant capacity. (2)
Lycopene has been found to have protective effects against cancer, diabetes, macular diseases, and cardiovascular disease. It also specifically protects skin cells from oxidative stress, preventing DNA damage.
The lycopene in watermelon is highly bioavailable, meaning that the body can readily use it to do what antioxidants do: reduce inflammation, enable the body to rid itself of toxins, and promote cell health. (3)
It’s therefore known as a “functional food”; the number of studies involving watermelon have increased in the last decade to discover all its possibilities.
“Water” is its first name.
Hydrating and delicious, watermelon is a bountiful source of electrolytes—minerals like potassium that support cells’ generation of energy and general maintenance and controlling blood pressure. (4)
Other ripe facts about watermelon:
High vitamin B6 content – this particular nutrient is critical for brain health; a British study found a direct correlation between low B6 levels and the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Low caloric/high fiber content – the double whammy for those trying to lose those few extra pounds for their bikinis.
The seeds of watermelons are rich in protein. They can be eaten raw or toasted for a handy snack. Additionally, the seeds are a natural diuretic, supporting liver function and treating urinary tract infection.
In many parts of the world, watermelon is used to treat diarrhea, kidney stones, alcohol poisoning, hypertension, and bed wetting. (5)
Find instructions here on how to carve a watermelon with minimal mess…you want to drink all that yummy juiciness.