Watermelon has the highest concentration of the powerful phytonutrient, lycopene, of any fresh fruit or vegetable. Lycopene is a well-known antioxidant that helps fight disease, especially prostate cancer. Lycopene also fights inflammation as does Cucurbitacin E, another important anti-inflammatory phytonutrient in watermelon.
Watermelon is a great source of potassium, which helps regulate muscle and nerve function, maintains the body’s electrolyte and acid-base balance, and lowers the risk of high blood pressure. It’s also a very good source of vitamin C, pantothenic acid, copper, biotin, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, magnesium, and fiber. That’s a lot of nutrition packed into this low calorie treat, at 40 calories per cup!
Watermelon also contains the amino acids citrulline and arginine, which help maintain arteries, blood flow, and overall cardiovascular function. There’s even some preliminary evidence from animal studies that greater conversion of citrulline into arginine may help prevent excess accumulation of fat in fat cells. A Purdue University and University of Kentucky study found that mice given a diet including watermelon had lower weight, cholesterol and arterial plaque than the control group. It’s only an animal study, but who knows – it might help us in our fight with fat weight, and it can’t hurt to try!
A fully ripened watermelon will feel heavy for its size. The bottom or “underbelly” of a watermelon is the spot where it was resting on the ground, and will usually be creamy yellow color rather than white or green (which indicate under-ripe watermelons). In a fully ripened watermelon, the spot opposite from the ground spot (top of the watermelon) will typically be dulled rather than shiny.
The thumping method of finding a ripe watermelon has a method to its madness. A fully ripened watermelon will have a deeper, hollower bass sound rather than a solid and shallow soprano sound.
So enjoy watermelon’s juicy and thirst-quenching crunch this summer! Take June’s Healthy Challenge and indulge in watermelon. It’s a great tasting and nutritious replacement for less healthy summer treats.