Watermelon

May 30, 2013

Watermelon has appeared under a number of subjects in this column, for good reason! This great summer snack is 92% water and offers two important weight loss requirements in one tasty package, hydration and fullness, at a mere 40 calories per cup! It's a refreshing summer favorite and and it's many healthy properties make it a great addition to any hot-weather meal. It fills you up, satisfies your sweet tooth and is packed full of vitamins and minerals, and the more  we learn about watermelon, the better it is! What else do we gain from this wonderful summer thirst-quencher?
  • Vitamin A, an antioxidant which also helps maintain eye health.
  • Vitamin C, an essential nutrient that helps strengthen immunity, forms collagen and cartilage, supports the healing process, protects against cell damage, and promotes healthy teeth and gums.
  • Vitamin B6, which aids healthy brain function and supports protein conversion into energy.
  • Lycopene, a powerful carotenoid phytonutrient that helps protect against heart disease and various cancers, most notably prostate cancer. Watermelon has the most lycopene of any fresh fruit or vegetable!
  • Potassium, which is vital for muscle and nerve function, helps maintain the body's proper electrolyte and acid-base balance, and helps maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Citrulline and arginine, which help maintain arteries, blood flow and overall cardiovascular function. Recent studies indicate that greater conversion of citrulline into arginine may help prevent excess accumulation of fat in fat cells.
  • Lutein, which protects the eyes from age related disease.
Certified as a heart healthy food by the American Heart Association, watermelon is also a diuretic and was used as a homeopathic treatment for kidney patients before dialysis became broadly accessible. And there's even more good news! A recent study reported in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that mice fed a diet including watermelon juice had lower weight, cholesterol and arterial plaque than a control group! Watermelon ... a great addition to a healthy diet! (All fruits are a source of carbohydrate. Most of the carbohydrates in fruit are natural sugars, which is why fruit has a sweet taste. If you have diabetes, foods that have carbohydrates can raise your blood glucose. However, fruit is still an important part of a balanced meal plan, so talk to your doctor and enjoy it with moderation.)

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