The Health Benefits of Watermelon

6/12/2017 6:42:07 PM

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In honor of the upcoming Beauregard Watermelon Festival, I would like to share with you the health benefits of the summer super fruit “Watermelon.”

Despite popular belief that watermelon is made up of only water and sugar, watermelon is a delicious, low-fat and refreshing fruit that is soaked with nutrients. In fact, watermelon only contains 46 calories per cup. Although watermelon is mostly water, the super fruit packs a powerful nutritional punch with significant levels of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin B-6. Watermelon also contain minerals such as potassium and magnesium, and lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids (protein).

In recent studies, watermelon has been linked with heart health, bone health and cancer prevention due to its high levels of lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that is found in red-pigmented fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, tomatoes, pink guava and red grapefruit. Results from several epidemiologic studies suggest a strong association between high intake of lycopene-rich foods, such as watermelon, and reduced risk of several cancers, most notably prostate cancer (Woodside, 2016). Additionally, research has been presented demonstrating a link between lycopene and a lower risk of hypertension, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic inflammation in the body and aging (Woodside, 2016). During the last few decades, presence of appreciable quantity of lycopene in watermelon has motivated farmers and growers to cultivate high red flesh varieties (Niaz, Butt, Sultan, Quayyum, Niaz, 2014).

Besides eating a healthy diet, consuming fruits and vegetables such as watermelon has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like watermelon decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes and heart disease, and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight (Ware, 2015). Eating watermelon is also an excellent wayto stay hydrated in these hot summer months.

References

Naz, A., Butt, M. S., Sultan, M. T., Qayyum, M. M. N., & Niaz, R. S. (2014). Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims. EXCLI Journal, 13, 650–660.

Perkin-Veazie, Penelope, Julie K. Collins, Beverly A. Clevidence, and Alison J. Edwards. "Watermelon Packs a Powerful Lycopene Punch." United States Department of Agriculture. AgResearch Magazine, June 2002. Web.

Ware, Megan, LDN RD. "Watermelon: Health Benefits and Nutritional Information." Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 13 Sept. 2015. Web. 12 June 2017.

Woodside, T. (2016, August). Watermelon. Retrieved June 12, 2017, from http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/hot_topics/2...

To stay hydrated, try incorporating watermelon as a daily snack or as a topping such as a refreshing Watermelon salsa (See recipe below).

Watermelon Salsa

Sweet, savory and crunchy salsa accompanies grilled pork or chicken rather nicely. Try it with tortilla chips as a refreshing alternative to a tomato salsa.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups finely diced seedless watermelon, (about 2¼ pounds with the rind) (see Tip)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (see Ingredient note)
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro, (about ½ bunch)
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup minced red onion, (about ½ small)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Steps

In large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Nutrition information

Serving size: 1/2 cup

Per serving: 26 calories;0g fat(0g sat); 1g fiber;6g carbohydrates;1g protein; 6 mcg folate; 0mg cholesterol; 4g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 505 IU vitamin A; 35 mg vitamin C; 9 mg calcium; 0 mg iron; 75mg sodium; 122 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (58% daily value)

**Check out this video for more watermelon nutrition facts**

To learn more about the benefits of watermelon, please join the LSU AgCenter on Friday, June 23, at the Beauregard Watermelon Festival at 4:00 PM. For additional information, contact the Aneisha Andrus, Area Nutrition Agent SNAP Ed at 337-239-3231 or aandrus@agcenter.lsu.edu



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