Nothing says summer like a watermelon treat, but unlike many unhealthy
options, this one is guilt-free and loaded with beneficial nutrients.
For a long time, watermelon has been taken for granted as a sweet, tasty
summertime fruit, made of sugar and water, and nothing more. Over the
past years, nutritionists, medical professionals, scientists, and
researchers have taken an interest to find out more about watermelon’s
health benefits. As it turns out, watermelon is incredibly healthy!
With more than 60 percent of adults overweight or obese, over 97 million
Americans are at risk to a host of chronic diseases. If you are trying
to control your weight, watermelon is perfect because it has only 80
calories, no fat at all, and is full of satisfying flavor and important
nutrients. A healthy food, 2 cups of watermelon chunks contain 25
percent of your daily vitamin A and 30 percent of your daily vitamin C.
Watermelon also contains B6 (6 percent) as well as potassium (8
percent), phosphorus (4 percent) and magnesium (8 percent).
Nutritionists have long appreciated the health benefits watermelon
provides. Watermelon not only boosts your “health esteem,” but it
contains higher levels of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or
vegetable (15 to 20 mg per 2-cup serving) and is part of a healthy diet.
Lycopene is a pigment that gives tomatoes, watermelon, and pink
grapefruit their red color.
Here is a quick breakdown of what watermelon’s many nutrients can do for you:
- Vitamin A found in watermelon is important for
optimal eye health and boosts immunity by enhancing the
infection-fighting actions of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
- Vitamin B-6 found in watermelon helps the immune system produce antibodies. Antibodies are needed to fight many diseases.
- Vitamin B-6 helps maintain normal nerve function and form red
blood cells. The body uses it to help break down proteins. The more
protein you eat, the more vitamin B-6 you need.
- Vitamin C in watermelon can help to bolster the
immune system’s defenses against infections and viruses and can protect
a body from harmful free radicals that can accelerate aging and
conditions such as cataracts.
- Potassium is a mineral necessary for water
balance and found inside of every human cell. People with low potassium
levels can experience muscle cramps. A 2-cup serving of watermelon
provides 8 percent of a person’s daily potassium need.
- Lycopene in watermelon is a carotenoid.
Researchers report that carotenoids (fat-soluble plant compounds that
give plants red, orange and yellow pigments) may act as antioxidants
that protect cells from oxygen-related damage that can result from
regular cell functions.
It is rare that such a healthful, low-calorie food is a popular treat
for children and adults alike. Watermelon is so good all by itself,
people rarely use it for anything other than eating by the slice or
cube. It turns out there are many uses for watermelon, and it can be
made a part of any meal — from breakfast to dinner, and from entree to
dessert. Watermelon can be used in relishes, salads, drinks, and soups.
It can even be grilled! Take a look at a few recipes to stir your
For more recipes, activities, and information on how to incorporate watermelon into your diet, please visit www.watermelon.org.
Photo credit: Jon Wightman/Thinkstock
Recipe photo courtesy of watermelon.org
Watermelon Waldorf Salad
2 cups cubed watermelon (about ½-inch cubes)
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup seedless
red grape halves
Dash of salt
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
Stir together watermelon, celery, and grapes in bowl. Just before
serving, stir salt into yogurt for dressing. You may want to add a
little water to lighten the thickness. Pour mixture over fruit and stir
until coated. Sprinkle with almonds.
Pick a Good Watermelon
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
- Look the watermelon over. You are looking for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts, or dents.
- Lift it up. The watermelon should be heavy for it’s size. Watermelon is 92% water, most of the weight is water.
- Turn it over. The underside of the watermelon should have a
creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the