Food Focus: Watermelon

What other food says Summer quite like Watermelon? From seed spitting contests to the sweet sugary stain it leaves on faces and fingers, watermelon is a symbol of summer time fun! And what you may not know is watermelon is incredibly healthy too!

watermelonWatermelon contains more lycopene than tomatoes, traditionally known for containing this powerful phytonutrient. Lycopene is a carotenoid phytonutrient that is especially important for our cardiovascular health, and recent studies show it is also important for bone health.

Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin C, and even though the amount provided (about 12 milligrams per cup of fresh melon) is only 20% of the recommended daily value, due to its very high water content, that comes with only about 45 calories. That’s excellent nutrient richness, and it makes watermelon a great choice for increasing vitamin C antioxidant protection. Plus, who stops at one cup (about one slice)?!

An amino acid you may have never heard of, citrulline, is abundant in watermelon. When our body absorbs this citrulline, some of it is converted by our kidneys and other organ systems into arginine (another amino acid). Although the body normally makes enough arginine, higher levels of it can help improve blood flow and other aspects of our cardiovascular health. Arginine also triggers the body to make protein and has been studied for healing wounds, bodybuilding, enhancing sperm production, and preventing tissue wasting in people with critical illnesses. There’s also some preliminary evidence that greater conversion of citrulline into arginine may help prevent excess accumulation of fat in fat cells due to blocked activity of an enzyme called tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase.

Whew – you get all that? In short, eat up that watermelon. It’s fun. It’s good for you, and even though watermelon seeds can provide us with small amounts of iron and zinc, what’s more fun than having watermelon seed spitting contests?

Source: WH Foods

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