If there was one fruit to completely sum up the season of summer it would have to be the watermelon. Juicy, sweet, and oh-so-refreshing, not only does its appearance in the grocery store signal that summer is finally near, but it also has lots of amazing health benefits that are very seasonally appropriate.
Read on to learn 8 reasons why you'll want to incorporate this luscious fruit into your diet all summer long.
1. Combat oxidative stress and free radicals with Lycopene
Watermelon is one of the best suppliers of bioavailable, cancer-fighting lycopene. This powerful carotenoid acts as an antioxidant and is responsible for giving the fruit its signature bright pink coloration. Summer is a great time to ingest plenty of antioxidant-rich foods as we spend more time outside under the sun. UV damage is one of the major causes of premature aging in the skin – and antioxidants like lycopene help strengthen and protect the skin from the inside out.
2. Speaking of antioxidants – don't forget Vitamin C!
Turns out citrus and berries aren't the only sources of Vitamin C – watermelon is a great source too! Per the USDA, one average watermelon wedge has about 23 mg of vitamin C or about 30 percent of your recommended daily intake. Not only does Vitamin C help support the immune system, but it is also critical for healthy collagen formation – the protein responsible for promoting youthful elasticity in the skin.
3. Eat your way to better hydration
While hydration is important all year round, it becomes especially critical during the summer as we tend to lose more water through sweat. Drinking more water and electrolyte-rich beverages like coconut water is, of course, very important, but we can also help our bodies stay hydrated by eating plenty of watermelon - as the name suggests, it's 92% water. Simply eating a few slices is a great way to boost hydration, or try blending or juicing watermelon with some fresh lime juice. So refreshing!
4. No Appetite? No problem.
The sweltering summer heat can do a number on one's appetite, which can be a problem if you want to stay energized and avoid a blood sugar crash. Watermelon is a great option if you're looking for an easy-to-digest, energizing snack that will hit the spot even in 90-degree weather. It's also a great pre-workout option – hydrating and rich in potassium which helps support healthy muscle function and electrolyte balance. It also won't weigh you down or make you feel sluggish if working out in the heat.
5. Prevent that post-workout crash
Not only does watermelon make an energizing pre-workout snack, but it can also help us recover from an intense summer sweat sesh. While carbs tend to get a bad rap in many fitness circles, our muscles need to replenish glycogen stores as part of their recovery process, making carbs a very necessary part of the post-workout equation. Watermelon also contains muscle-relaxing magnesium as well as the amino acid L-citrulline, a nutrient which is involved in the muscle recovery process.
6. Nourish your heart
Not only is lycopene an amazing antioxidant for the skin — but research also shows that the phytonutrient also helps keep our arteries flexible and clear of artery-clogging plaque, and may even help lower overall blood pressure. It's also a good source of an amino acid called citrulline which has been shown to help keep the blood moving freely through the body. Considering that heart disease is the cause of 610,000 deaths per year in the US (that's 1 in 4 deaths!), it’s never a bad idea to load up on heart-healthy foods no matter who you are what your health history is.
7. Do it for your gut
Gut health is paramount in our overall health. It's connected to everything from how well our immune system functions (80% of our immunity is in the gut) to our mood and brain chemistry (90% of the body's serotonin is made in the gut – not the brain!) While there are lots of factors that influence gut-health, what we eat has to be at the top of the list. Watermelon is a wonderful food to help cleanse and flush out the GI system. It is quick and easy to digest, and may, therefore, be an excellent option for people with impaired digestion. If you deal with bloating or indigestion after eating watermelon it may have more to do with food combining than the melon itself. Try eating watermelon for breakfast on an empty stomach, as a mono-meal (by itself) or prior to other foods for the best digestion.
8. Healthy sweet tooth satisfaction
Most of us understand why we should be limiting our intake of sugar these days, however, it certainly doesn't mean we shouldn't enjoy nature's sweet treats! While watermelon tastes like it may be high in sugar, it actually only contains about 8-10 grams of sugar and only 30 calories per 1 cup serving. Plus it offers a rich supply of fiber to help slow down the sugar's absorption and minimize blood sugar highs and lows. When you compare the sugar in watermelon to some of summer's other classic treats – like ice cream and popsicles– it is actually much lower in sugar and vastly healthier.
When you think of berries, what comes to mind? Strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries? Most likely not watermelon, right?! After all, watermelon doesn't look, taste, or even act anything like those aforementioned fruits. But it turns out, watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is what botanists classify as a "pepo": “an indehiscent fleshy one-celled many-seeded berry (such as a pumpkin, squash, melon, or cucumber) that has a hard rind and is the characteristic fruit of the gourd family” - as defined by Merriam Webster. Yep, berry. Mind = blown.