Surprising health benefits of watermelon

By Terri Hall-Jackson, Care2

Some foods are fun to eat, and watermelon is definitely one of them. That triangular wedge of bright red, white, green with sweet juiciness forbids us to take life too seriously and shouts, "SUMMER!!!" As if that weren't enough, watermelon is packed full of nutrition, it hydrates, and it's low-fat. While many of us think of watermelon as a great snack option, when you tally up its nutritive value, you might consider making this all-star a feature player in your cuisine.

Watermelons are an excellent source of several vitamins: vitamin A, which helps maintain eye health and is an antioxidant; vitamin C, which helps strengthen immunity, heal wounds, prevent cell damage, and promote healthy teeth and gums; and vitamin B6, which helps brain function and helps convert protein to energy.

Tomatoes have been highly touted as a great source for lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight heart disease and several types of cancer -- prostate cancer in particular. Watermelon, however, has the highest concentrations of lycopene of any fresh fruit or vegetable.

If your little ones don't dig into their Swiss chard, lima beans, or spinach -- all great sources of potassium -- consider offering them a serving of watermelon instead. It is a great source of potassium, which helps muscle and nerve function, helps maintain the body's proper electrolyte and acid-base balance, and helps lower the risk of high blood pressure.

Watermelon also contains the amino acids citrulline and arginine, which can help maintain arteries, blood flow, and overall cardiovascular function.

Alone or in a fruit salad are the most common ways many of us eat watermelon. While eating the meat of the fruit is the best way to take advantage of all of its nutrients, this is one of my favorite bits of summer refreshment. I get a version of the recipe below from my local burrito truck.

The key to making aqua fresca great: Don't over-sweeten it. With just a touch of sweetness, it's heavenly.

Watermelon Agua Fresca (Fresh Water)

  • 3 cups cubed, seeded watermelon
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • juice from 2-3 limes
  • natural sweetner to taste

In a blender, puree the watermelon, then strain it through a fine sieve. In a pitcher, mix the strained juice with water. Add lime juice and natural sweetener to taste. Serve cold over ice.

More from Care2: