Conjure up visions of a hot summer day, and more than likely a watermelon will enter the picture, usually situated in a prime spot on the picnic table. But don’t regulate watermelon to the odd picnic—it’s a food that deserves a regular rotation on your shopping list. First off, it’s got way more going for it than water and sugar, which is how most people think of it. It’s actually a nutritional gem, loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that offer you bennies from your hair down to your ankles.
And while we are revamping watermelon’s reputation, it’s worth noting that while watermelon is classified botanically as a fruit—it’s also considered a vegetable. It is a vegetable because it is a member of the same family as other vine growing vegetables such as cucumber, pumpkin and squash. Fruit, vegetable or mineral, here are seven great reasons to chow down on some watermelon.
Revives achy muscles
Watermelon contains the amino acid L-citrulline, an amino acid that is a precursor for arginine. Research suggests that citrulline and arginine may reduce muscle soreness and support quicker recovery time following exercise. Here’s how it works—consuming watermelon or its juice may help your muscles get more oxygen, which means they can repair themselves faster.
Supports cardiovascular health
Lycopene, a pigment that gives tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit their red color, may help support heart health. Watermelon contains higher levels of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable—a whopping 15 to 20 mg per 2-cup serving.
Supports a healthy inflammatory response
Watermelon contains choline, a nutrient that aids our bodies in sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline, like lycopene, may help support a healthy inflammatory response, while helping maintain cellular structure and absorb fats.
Packed with antioxidants, in particular vitamin C, watermelon may combat the formation of free radicals known to damage healthy cells. Research supports watermelon’s reputation as a cellular-health crusader, thanks to the power of lycopene.
Regularity (of the bowel movement kind) may not be very glamorous, but it’s essential for health. With its high water and fiber content, watermelon helps to ease constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract. Plus it beats the taste of Metamucil hands down.
Watermelon has high levels of vitamin A, a nutrient that calms the havoc free radicals wreak on the skin and promotes cellular recovery. Vitamin A is also required for sebum production, which keeps hair and skin moisturized and vibrant.
Last but not least, there’s nothing like watermelon’s thirst-quenching attributes. Each bite delivers a healthy dose of electrolytes that help fight dehydration. Have some chilled watermelon on hand during the dog days of summer—you’ll find the living just got a tad easier.