Why You Should Be Eating Watermelon + Quick and Easy Slush Recipe
7 minute read
With summer right around the corner, people start dreaming of fresh watermelons. Although many fruits come into season over the summer, the watermelon is the most popular, and it’s a staple at summer parties and barbecues.
Not only are watermelons delicious, but they are also nutritious and full of health benefits. So slice one up or better yet try making a new quick and easy 3-ingredient slush to keep you cool.
The Health Benefits of Watermelon
Besides tasting great and making you feel refreshed on a hot day, there are a number of reasons why you should be eating watermelon every season.
Drinking water is not the only way to ensure your body gets the water it needs every day. Watermelon has one of the highest water contents of all fruits, with 92% of it being water. This makes it great for keeping you hydrated, and the high fiber content helps you feel full for longer. You get great food volume without the pesky calories.
Beneficial Plant Compounds
Watermelon contains numerous beneficial vitamins and minerals to boost your health. It also has several important antioxidant compounds that work to protect you from free radical damage such as vitamin C.
Watermelon is also full of carotenoids that your body converts to vitamin A, which is needed for immune system support as well as healthy vision. You can also find cucurbitacin E in watermelon, which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that protects your cells and tissues from oxidative and inflammatory damage.
Inflammation is beneficial when controlled, but often it can become chronic and is linked to many serious diseases. Chronic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s, and some forms of cancer.
The vitamin C and lycopene in watermelon are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that work to reduce this inflammation. Studies have found that lycopene, in particular, is effective at reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, thus protecting you from neurodegenerative diseases.
With heart disease being the number one killer in this country, it is important to promote heart health wherever possible. You can protect your heart with certain lifestyle changes like quitting smoking and getting regular exercise, but adding watermelon can help too.
Lycopene is a compound in watermelon that lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Watermelon also contains citrulline, which is an amino acid that increases nitric oxide levels, which also lowers blood pressure.
Lycopene’s activity against inflammation can also protect your eyes. Macular degeneration is a common problem in aging eyes, but the lycopene in watermelon can help protect against this. In studies where individuals already showed signs of degeneration, lycopene slowed the progress of the condition and prevented vision from getting worse.
Better Skin and Hair
Two vitamins that are abundant in watermelon are great for your skin and hair: vitamins A and vitamin C.
Vitamin C helps your body to produce collagen, which is essential for supple skin and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Collagen also helps to strengthen hair follicles.
Vitamin A is required in the creation and repair of skin cells, s without it your skin will appear dry and flaky. The lycopene and beta-carotene in watermelon also help to protect your skin from sun damage.
The high water and fiber content of watermelons make them an ideal food for optimal digestion. Water and fiber both help to keep digestion flowing smoothly and prevent constipation. The more water-rich foods you eat that also contain fiber will help you to achieve regular bowel movements and a healthier gut.
Soothe Achy Muscles
The citrulline in watermelon is available as a supplement and has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and aches. The watermelon juice, however, enhances the absorption of the citrulline making it better to eat the fruit rather than take a supplement.
Blended watermelon drinks (like the slush below) have been found to reduce muscle soreness and improve heart rate recovery after exercise, making it a better and less sugary option for athletes. Citrulline has also been found to improve overall athletic performance and endurance.
While there is no definitive way to prevent cancer, watermelons contain compounds that may be able to lower your risk for developing the disease. Lycopene in watermelons has been linked to reduced risk for certain digestive-related cancers. Considering that the fiber in watermelon helps to promote digestive health, this could be an overall great way to ward of bowel cancers.
Lycopene also seems to have the ability to lower insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which is a protein involved in cell division. High levels of IGF are linked to increased risk of cancers, so keeping these numbers low is a necessity. In addition to lycopene, cucurbitacin E has been shown to inhibit tumor growth in studies.
Just in case you’d like all the benefits of watermelon but get bored of slicing it up all the time, you can try this easy to make slush instead. You get all the same nutrients and health benefits in this easy to drink slush.
These are also great for afternoon snacks to perk you up, and they make a great recovery drink for post-workout recovery times.
1 seedless watermelon (to yield approx. 5 cups), diced
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup ice
Optional: raw honey, as needed for additional sweetness
Combine watermelon, lime juice, and ice in a blender until smooth and serve immediately.
The Bottom Line
Summer is a time for fun, but you also need to beat that heat. There is no better way to stay cool than to eat (or drink) watermelon on those hot summer afternoons.
You feel refreshed, your taste buds are delighted, and your body is nourished with a host of beneficial and health-boosting compounds. Watermelon may be more popular in the summer, but once you know all that it can do for your health, you will want to buy it all year round.