When you think of cool and refreshing summer foods, a juicy slice of watermelon definitely comes to mind. But did you know that this particular fruit is a superfood?
“We think of watermelon as a fun seasonal food for barbecues and the beach, but it’s also really good for you,” she says.Cleveland Clinic Registered Dietitian Lara Whitson. “It’s low in calories, keeps you hydrated, and provides many other nutrients that can help you maintain good health.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one cup of diced watermelon is only 46 calories. It contains no fat, just 1 mg of sodium, 9 grams of sugar, 10 mg of calcium, 12 mg of vitamin C, 15 mg of magnesium, 170 mg of potassium and 139 grams of water.
The potassium in watermelon helps support nerve and muscle function, and the antioxidants like lycopene and cucurbitacin E help ward off disease. (Lycopene also gives watermelon its red color.) Watermelon is also a good source of vitamin A and is Heart-Check Certified by the American Heart Association.
All parts of the watermelon are good to eat. The seeds are packed with minerals and nutrients like magnesium, iron, healthy fats and zinc, and the watermelon rind contains less sugar and more fiber than the flesh. It also contains citrulline, an amino acid that helps the body get rid of toxic substances such as ammonia.
Here are eight things superfoods do for our health, according to experts at Cleveland Clinic, Healthline and Mayo Clinic:
1. Prevents dehydration. Since watermelon is 92 percent water, it’s a quick and easy treatment that rehydrates your body. Scientists say that if you add a little salt to watermelon after a workout, it can help restore the electrolytes you lost through sweat.
2. Helps maintain a healthy weight. Choosing watermelon as your favorite snack will keep you away from highly processed foods that are full of sugar and fat. Watermelon also makes you feel full longer; one study found that watermelon consumption was associated with lower body weight, body mass index, and waist-to-hip ratio. It also reduced the blood pressure of study participants.
3. Has disease fighting qualities. Rich in antioxidants, watermelon has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. It can help relax blood vessels and improve blood flow. The vitamin C in watermelon also keeps the immune system in top fighting shape. Research has shown that the lycopene in watermelon can reduce the risk of developing heart disease or dying prematurely from heart disease.
4. Protects eyes. The antioxidants in watermelon may also prevent or delay the development of cataracts and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness.
5. Keeps skin healthy. The vitamin C in watermelon helps your body make collagen, which is important for healthy cells. Collagen keeps skin strong and flexible, slowing down age-related damage. One study found that higher vitamin C intake from food or supplements can reduce the chances of developing wrinkles and dry skin. Vitamin A in watermelon also helps repair skin cells and prevents the skin from drying out.
6. Recover your muscles. After a strenuous workout, a watermelon snack can help your muscles recover faster. The citrulline in watermelon reduces the buildup of lactate in the body, which can lead to body aches.
7. Promotes good intestinal bacteria. The plant compounds, or polyphenols, in watermelon improve digestion and promote the growth of good gut bacteria, which support the immune system.
8. Check your blood sugar. Because it’s low in sugar, eating watermelon instead of a sugary treat can help with blood sugarspikeswhich can occur with diabetes.
Experts caution that, as with all foods, a healthy balance is important. Eating two servings of watermelon a day is safe, but avoid diets where you eat only watermelon because you won’t be getting other important nutrients.
People prone to migraines, pollen allergies, and digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome may want to limit watermelon consumption. People with diabetes should also eat watermelon in moderation because it has natural sugars. Always talk to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.
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