Watermelon is a classic summer food. This gorgeous pink fruit (originally native to West Africa) is packed with refreshing flavor and a wide range of nutrients. Here are a few ways putting some watermelon on your plate this season can benefit your health.
It’s Packed with Water
As if the name weren’t a giveaway enough, watermelon is a great thirst quencher—it’s about 92% water. This makes it an awesome way to help you stay hydrated this summer.
It’s delicious eaten as is, but have fun experimenting by blending up a watermelon slushie with ice and lime juice or making it into a cold soup. Because of the high water content, it’s also fairly low in calories—one cup will only set you back about 50 calories but still fill you up.
It’s a Great Source of Lycopene
Tomatoes tend to get all the attention here, but watermelons are also a rich source of antioxidant lycopene. This naturally occurring compound is actually what gives certain fruits and vegetables that bright red color. Antioxidants are important for fighting damage to cells by free radical compounds, and while supplements exist, incorporating antioxidant-rich foods into the diet is a more delicious way to boost your intake and also provides the added benefits of other good stuff in those foods. Though there is currently insufficient evidence to establish a recommended dosage, lycopene has been studied for its potential role in heart health, cancer prevention, eye health, asthma management, and skin health—perhaps helping minimize summer sun damage?
It’s High in Vitamin C
A one-cup serving of watermelon provides 20% of your daily vitamin C needs. This water-soluble vitamin is important for proper immune system function—important for helping ward off those summer colds. It’s also noted for its benefit to skin health, as vitamin C’s antioxidant properties fight cell damage from free radicals that contribute to the formation of wrinkles.
Another bonus: vitamin C enhances iron absorption, so if you’re on a vegetarian diet or have increased needs, watermelon (or other vitamin C-rich food in your meal) helps your body get the most out of the iron sources in the meal. Try a black bean-and-watermelon salad or serve watermelon wedges alongside veggie burgers.
It’s High in Vitamin A
Vitamin A is important for numerous body processes. It’s especially important to eye health. Like vitamin C, it’s also an antioxidant. One cup of watermelon provides about 17% of your daily needs. Vitamin A is found in many fruits and vegetables, so if you’re dealing with a picky eater who shuns most produce, watermelon is a great option to keep in the rotation to help them meet their needs.
It’s a Good Source of Potassium
Potassium is a mineral that’s key to almost all body processes. It’s absolutely essential to proper muscle and nerve function. In the summertime when a lot of us want to look good in a swimsuit, potassium-rich foods are important to include regularly, as potassium helps counteract bloating because it offsets the effect of sodium, which promotes water retention.
A one-cup serving of watermelon provides 170 mg.
Enjoying watermelon as part of your regular diet this summer can help you look great, feel great, and have fun!
Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian, health coach, and writer with a passion for helping others experience a happier, calmer life and a balanced relationship with food. For those in need of some healthy-eating inspiration, Jess created five day's worth of delicious make-ahead lunches to make it even easier to eat well on a busy day. For more information on Jess, check out her website and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Main Photo Credit & Fourth Photo Credit: 5 second Studio/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: pilipphoto/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Boiarkina Marina/shutterstock.com