Rainbow Color Group: Red
If you think watermelon is just water and fruit sugar, think again. Watermelon is indeed a nutrient dense food providing key vitamins, minerals, as well as antioxidants at extremely low calories. Traditional folklore believed that watermelon can help with inflammation, cancer, and asthma. Regardless if the benefits can be substantiated, this juicy fruit is a perfect summer guilt-free treat that is truly refreshing.
1 cup of watermelon balls contain:
3 reasons to eat more watermelon
1. Watermelon may have anti-cancer properties
Some compounds in watermelon, such as cucurbitacin E and lycopene, have been studied for their potential abilities to prevent cancer. Although results are not definitive yet, it really doesn’t hurt to eat more. Cucurbitacin E is an antioxidant also found in bitter melon; while the red color in watermelon comes from an antioxidant called lycopene; the same nutrient that is often associated with tomatoes. The interesting fact is that watermelon actually contains more lycopene than tomatoes! Choose watermelon with bright red flesh (instead of yellow or orange flesh) if you are interested in loading up on lycopene. Also, the riper the watermelon, the more lycopene it contains. In addition, seedless watermelon seems to have more lycopene.
2. Watermelon may be anti-inflammatory
The presence of lycopene and vitamin C in watermelon is truly an anti-inflammatory super-combo! In a 2015 study, rats fed an unhealthy diet were supplemented with watermelon powder. Researchers found that compared to the control, the watermelon-supplemented group had a lower level of inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is released in response to inflammation so the level of this particular protein in your blood is an indicator of the level of inflammation within the body. Inflammation is a broad term and may not seem like a big detriment. But systemic inflammation affects your body’s ability to deal with stress and prevent the onset of chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease and cancer. The lower and shorter amount of time your body is in the inflammatory stage, the better. In addition, the same animal study also showed that triglycerides, total cholesterol, as well as LDL cholesterol were also lowered in the rat group supplemented with watermelon. Even through simple watermelon supplementation, these beneficial results were truly impressive. Future human clinical studies were indicated.
3. Watermelon may relieve muscle soreness
Some athletes may find watermelon and watermelon juice useful as post-workout snacks. Despite in small amounts, watermelon contains an amino acid called citrulline, which may help relieve muscle soreness. Interesting, watermelon itself also helps with citrulline absorption. Researchers from a small 2013 study gave athletes 3 different drinks: plain watermelon juice, watermelon juice + citrulline, and citrulline-mixed drink. Results showed that the two groups with watermelon (with and without extra citrulline) showed quicker recovery and experienced less muscle soreness. If you lead an active lifestyle, watermelon may help you decrease your exercise soreness as well.
Please note that as watermelon’s glycemic index is relatively high, people with diabetes are recommended to be cautious in portion control. Consult with your medical doctor or registered dietitian if in doubt.
How to choose watermelon at the store
When choosing watermelon, look for ones that are firm and heavy for its size without bruise spots. If you see a yellow patch, it’s actually a good thing. This patch is where the fruit rests on the ground during growing and ripening; as this patch is not exposed to sunlight, its color is different from the rest of the watermelon skin. If the patch is creamy yellow in color, it’s ripe; if you can’t find this patch, that watermelon may have been harvested too early and the flavor may not be fully developed.
How to include more watermelon in your diet
Gloria Tsang - Registered Dietitian