Watermelons are actually classified as both a vegetable and a fruit depending on the source, and comes in various shapes and sizes, with spotted or striped skins. Like their cucumber cousins, the entire watermelon can be eaten, although people tend to only eat the inner pink or yellow flesh. Considered nothing but water and sugar in the past, new research is showing that watermelons have many health benefits.
Here’s five healthy reasons to eat more watermelon:
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.
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 watermelon and green tea may help prevent cancer in the way they work together in the body.
3. Watermelons are high in vitamin B1: Vitamin B1 is an essential vitamin that ensures a healthy nervous system. A lack of vitamin B1 is also known as a thiamine deficiency, and can result in confusion and memory loss. Alcohol can also lead to vitamin B1 (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 are also packed with 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.
Watermelon and mint salad with grilled Haloumi cheese
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.
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 Haloumi cheese, grilled and crumbled
1. Add ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
Makes 8 servings.
Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet (OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network), a reality cooking show that highlights the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation (Random House) is now available and will help people enjoy allergy-free foods that taste great and assist the body in the healing process.