No summer picnic or BBQ would be complete without the fresh and delicious goodness of watermelons. From toddlers to grandparents, this particular melon has always been a crowd favorite, and with good reason. They’re a little bit messy, which is part of the fun, and they’re definitely scrumptious, yummy, and refreshing on a warm day.
But did you know that watermelons are packed with health benefits? In fact, the entire watermelon—seeds, rind, and flesh—all contain a wealth of goodness for our bodies.
Here’s a look at some of the top reasons for eating plenty of watermelon this year, but don’t tell the kids. We don’t want to spoil their fun!
Carotenoids, which are antioxidants, are necessary for achieving overall good health. Antioxidants combat and remove free-radicals in our bodies, which cause harm at the cellular level. Fortunately, watermelons are chock full of a wide range of beneficial carotenoids, including lycopene and beta-carotene.
Many health studies report that diets high in fruits and vegetables that contain beta-carotene and lycopene generally result in good heart health. Lycopene is the pigment that gives the watermelon flesh its red coloring, and is a key component in protecting against a variety of cancers including prostate, breast, oral, and lung.
Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to the seemingly endless supply of carotenoids, watermelons are a great source of certain vitamins and minerals that help protect our eyes against macular degeneration, which causes us to lose the center of our field of vision.
If you’ve ever felt like you’re a little more energized after eating watermelon, there’s a good reason. It’s loaded with B vitamins, which naturally produce energy. Watermelon also contains usable doses of magnesium and potassium.
Magnesium helps keep a wide range of bodily systems healthy and functioning properly. This includes keeping muscle and nerves functioning, keeping a steady heart rhythm, strengthening bones, and assisting our immune systems. A diet rich in potassium helps maintain a healthy blood pressure, and is particularly beneficial to people who are sensitive to sodium intake.
Don’t Forget about the Seeds
How many of us heard that old chestnut when we were kids that eating watermelon seeds would cause one to grow in our bellies? This was just a way for our parents to get us not to eat them, but the fact is watermelon seeds are another great source of nutrients for our bodies.
The seeds are particularly high in protein, and are an additional source of magnesium and potassium, as well as calcium, iron, and phosphorous.
The seeds can be swallowed whole as you’re eating the melon, or, if you prefer, they can be toasted in a skillet like you might do with pumpkin seeds. Just toss a handful into a skillet with just enough water to keep them from burning, and cook them over medium heat until the moisture has evaporated. From there you can toss them into a salad, or lightly season them and eat them on their own.
The Rind is more than Colorful
We generally only eat watermelon down to the rind, and then toss it into the trash, garden, or compost pile. But did you know the rind is often used in many other ways? Maybe you haven’t paid particular attention to every item on the shelf at the grocery store, particularly those stores that carry specialty items, but watermelon rinds appear in a range of uses. These include pickled and candied, and even marinated to soften their texture.
They are also high in an amino acid called citrulline, which is known to provide benefits similar to Viagra. That is to say it helps relax dilated veins and restore natural blood flow. Additionally, the rind, when boiled in water to create a broth, is a natural diuretic and particularly beneficial for those who suffer from occasional water retention.
Include plenty of watermelon in your diet, and not just during the summer months, and put all these health benefits to good use. Your body, including your taste buds, will thank you!
About the Author
Tyler is a health and nutrition writer. He is also a writes about TV and entertainment for Cabletv.com.
*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*