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Watermelon’s Health Benefits: Who Knew?

Ah, the fruits of summer. Peaches, nectarines, cherries, watermelon.  I have such fond memories of them as a kid.  My brother and I would swing on our swing set and eat watermelon; then have a seed-spitting contest to see how far the seeds would go – the swings helped.  My father would be cutting the grass.  I love the scents of watermelon and grass.

What I didn’t know as a kid was that watermelon is really nutritious.  Check out what WebMD had to say:

 

Watermelon is Loaded with Lycopene

The cherry-red color comes from lycopene, an antioxidant. Studies show it may help curb your risk of cancer and diabetes as part of a healthy lifestyle. Watermelon has more of this nutrient than any other fruit or veggie ­– even tomatoes. Woo hoo!  I like watermelon much more than spinach or Brussles sprouts.

To load up on lycopene, choose a melon with bright red flesh rather than yellow or orange. And the riper, the better. Also, seedless melon tends to have more lycopene than those with seeds. loved the ones with the seeds as a kid; not so much now.  I gave up spitting seeds in 2nd grade.

Protects Your Joints

Watermelon has a natural pigment called beta-cryptoxanthin that may protect your joints from inflammation. Some studies show that over time, it could make you less likely to get rheumatoid arthritis. It might be too late for me; I wonder if it reverses the effects of RA.

Easy on Your Eyes

Just one serving of watermelon gives you more than 30 percent of the vitamin A you need each day. This nutrient is one of the keys to keeping your eyes healthy. Maybe the fact that I’ve been eating watermelon is why my eyes markedly improved at my eye exam last week.

Naturally Sweet Hydration

Juicy watermelon is 92 percent water, so it’s a simple way to help stay hydrated. Every cell in your body needs water. Even a small shortage can make you feel sluggish. If you get really dehydrated, it can become serious enough that you need to get fluids by IV. I say forget about all the designer waters; carry around a bag of watermelon balls!

Soothes Your Skin

Vitamins A, B6 and C in watermelon help your skin stay soft, smooth, and supple. Because it’s loaded with water, melon also makes a great face mask. Mix 1 tablespoon of watermelon juice with the same amount of Greek yogurt. Spread over your face and leave on for 10 minutes to slough off any dry, dull skin. Rinse and pat dry.   I’m trying the mask now.

Satisfies Your Sweet Tooth

A cup of ice cream will set you back around 300 calories. You can enjoy the same amount of watermelon for just 40 calories. Plus unlike many other desserts, it’s fat-free, low in cholesterol and has no sodium. In addition, the water in it will help you stay fuller longer. To make an easy sorbet, puree some watermelon in your blender, add a squeeze of lime, and pop in the freezer until it hardens.  YUM.

Easy to Digest

If you have a digestive condition like Crohn’s or colitis, the list of what not to eat during a flare can be long. You can put watermelon on your “yes” list. Its soft, fleshy fruit is easy for even an inflamed gut to digest.

Won’t Spike Your Blood Sugar

Trying to keep your blood glucose levels steady? You’re in luck. Watermelon has a glycemic index (GI) value of 80, about the same as a bowl of cornflakes. But it’s got few carbs. That means its glycemic load (how quickly it enters your bloodstream and how much glucose it can produce) is a mere five. Enjoy a slice without guilt!

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