It’s watermelon season! The mostly gigantic fruit are popping up in gardens, farmer’s markets and grocery stores. And, that’s a good thing. Not only do these fruit quench thirst from the scorching hot days of August, they are packed with nutrition to boost your health. Here are 11 reasons to love watermelon:
1. Watermelon is one of the top sources of the nutrient lycopene, which gives foods like watermelon, tomatoes, guava, rosehips, strawberries and pink grapefruit their pinkish-reddish hue. A growing body of research links lycopene consumption to a reduced risk of prostate and breast cancer.
2. Watermelon may stimulate more than your taste buds. According to researchers at Texas A& M University, watermelon may have similar effects as Viagra. The scientists credit a variety of ingredients that collectively stimulate blood vessels and may increase libido.
3. Lycopene found in watermelon has also been linked to a reduce risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
4. Watermelon contains a nutrient known as citrulline, which in its conversion to the amino acid arginine, helps to prevent fat accumulation in the cells. It also boosts watermelon’s heart-healing properties.
5. During this conversion to arginine, the body’s stores of nitric oxide increase. Nitric oxide helps to relax blood vessels and increases blood flow, which further increases watermelon’s ability to mitigate angina, high blood pressure and heart disease.
6. This delightful fruit also contains compounds known as flavonoids, carotenoids and triterpenoids—all of which have potent antioxidant capabilities, meaning that they destroy harmful free radicals in our bodies before they can accelerate aging and disease.
7. Watermelon is high in glutathione, which is an important nutrient needed to maintain liver health.
8. This thirst-quenching food is also high in beta carotene, which is needed for healthy skin, as well as immune-boosting vitamin C.
9. Watermelon’s ability to boost our arginine levels also enables it to remove ammoniaand other toxic compounds from our bodies.
10. As its name would suggest, watermelon contains 92 percent water, making it an excellent and refreshing choice to prevent dehydration and rehydrate your cells.
11. Due to its many antioxidants and other nutrients, watermelon has anti-inflammatory effects on the body, which is important when you consider that dozens of serious chronic health conditions ranging from arthritis to cancer have been linked to inflammation in the body.
While all watermelons are nutritious, choose the reddish-pink flesh varieties as they offer the greatest amounts of flavonoids and lycopene. While lycopene content is fairly stable for the first two days after cutting watermelon, it begins to dwindle after that. The same is true of many of the other nutrients in watermelon which tend to deteriorate the longer they are stored. So, choose freshly-harvested watermelons as much as possible and eat them soon after you cut into them. Watermelon is delicious blended with ice for a thirst-quenching summer beverage.