5 health benefits of watermelon

Full of antioxidants and super-hydrating, find out why you should turn to this sweet treat all summer long.

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Watermelon
Photo, Istockphoto.

Slicing into a chilled watermelon on a hot summer afternoon is nothing short of a celebration. Like their cucumber cousins, the entire watermelon can be eaten, although people tend to only eat the inner pink or yellow flesh. Here’s why you should consider watermelon more than just a refreshing summer treat:

1. Watermelons are good for your heart
Watermelons are high in vitamin C, which is well researched in its ability to prevent the hardening of the arteries, increase the elasticity of the blood vessels and decrease inflammation. All of these factors can help prevent high blood pressure and heart disease.

Read more: Detox, reduce stress and lose belly fat with vitamin C

2. They may prevent prostate cancer
Watermelons are high in lycopene, which gives them the same red pigment as tomatoes. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant studied extensively for its ability to protect men against prostate cancer. Try pairing your watermelon with some iced green tea — the antioxidants found in both may help prevent cancer in the way they work together in the body.

Read more: 5 fruits and vegetables that can save your life 

3. Watermelons are high in vitamin B1
This vitamin ensures a healthy nervous system and a lack of it — known as a thiamine deficiency — and can result in confusion and memory loss. Alcohol can also lead to thiamin depletion, which makes watermelon a great breakfast food after a night of indulgence.

4. They increase the production of arginine
Watermelons contain a unique amino acid called citrulline, which our bodies use to manufacture another amino acid called arginine. Arginine plays a direct role in the volume and direction of blood flow in the body. It’s currently being researched in treating erectile dysfunction, with promising results.

5. Watermelons are the perfect post-workout snack
Not only are watermelons 92 percent water, they’re also full of magnesium and potassium. We often lose these two minerals, along with sodium, in our sweat during exercise, and they need to be replenished immediately. Potassium and magnesium are known as electrolytes because they help carry the electrical signals in the body and allow our muscles to contract and relax.

Try this recipe to reap the health benefits of this juicy fruit:

Watermelon salad
Watermelon salad (Photo, Julie Daniluk)

Watermelon, celery, fennel, mint and grilled halloumi cheese recipe
This is a recipe created by Ezra Title, owner of Chez Vous Dining and my co-host on Healthy Gourmet. The salty cheese is a wonderful contrast to the sweet watermelon, and this salad is a popular dish in Israel.

Ingredients
¼ watermelon, peeled in cubes
5 stalks celery, chopped
½ fennel, shaved
¼ red onion, shaved
½ bunch mint, torn
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ lb halloumi cheese, grilled and crumbled

Directions
1. Add ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Makes eight servings.

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

-Article originally published July 2011. 

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