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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

HEALTH BENEFITS OF WATERMELON

Want to quench thirst and re-boost your body with anti-oxidant lycopene and vitamin-A? Watermelon has everything you need to beat the scorching summer heat. Wonderfully delicious, thirst-quenching melons are the great source of much-needed water and electrolytes to beat the tropical summer temperatures. Their refreshing quality and sweet taste help to combat the heat and also provide a guilt-free, low maintenance dessert for kids and adults alike to enjoy.

Along with cantaloupe and honeydew, watermelons are a member of the botanical family Cucurbitaceae. There are five common types of watermelon: seeded, seedless, mini (also known as personal), yellow and orange. It is widely grown across many tropical countries where it is one of the major commercial crops.

Watermelon was originated from southern African countries and from where it spread to all over the tropical and subtropical regions. The plant bears many yellow colored flowers that may require honeybees for pollination.

Externally, the fruit features smooth, deep green or yellow color thick exterior rind with light-green or gray colored vertical stripes all over its outer surface. Internally, the flesh is juicy, pink, red, or yellow with numerous small black seeds embedded in the middle third of the flesh. Watermelon has a neutral flavor, and tastes somewhat plain-sweet like light sugar syrup.

Varieties of watermelon-fruits are cultivated world over, featuring variation in their size, shape, and color of the flesh (red, orange, and yellow).

Nutritional Facts of Watermelon

One cup of diced watermelon (152 grams) contains 43 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2 grams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrate (including 9 grams of sugar and 1 gram of fiber) and 1 gram of fiber. One cup of watermelon will provide 17% of vitamin A, 21% of vitamin C, 2% of iron and 1% of calcium needs for the day.

Watermelon also contains thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, lycopene and betaine. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable.

Despite being a great source of the above nutrients, watermelon is made up of 92% water.

Health Benefits of Watermelon

Rich in electrolytes and water content, melons are nature’s gift to beat tropical summer thirst.

Watermelons are very low in calories (just 30 calories per 100 g) and fats yet very rich source of numerous health promoting phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants that are essential for optimum health.

Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like watermelon decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.

It is also rich in anti-oxidant flavonoids like lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidants are found to offer protection against colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers. Phyto-chemicals present in watermelon like lycopene and carotenoids have the ability to help protect cells and other structures in the body from oxygen-free radicals.

Watermelon is an excellent source of carotenoid pigment, lycopene and indeed, superior to raw red tomato. 100 g of fresh melon provides 4532 µg lycopene, whereas only 2573 µg in tomatoes. 

Studies suggest that lycopene offer certain protection to skin from harmful UV rays.

Furthermore, it contains a good amount of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), vitamin-C, and manganese. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.

Hydration: Made up of 92% water and full of important electrolytes, watermelon is a great snack to have on hand during the hot winter months to prevent dehydration.

Inflammation: Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in watermelon that aids our bodies in sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.

Asthma Prevention: The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients. One of these nutrients is vitamin C, found in many fruits and vegetables including watermelon.

Blood Pressure: A study published by the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon extract supplementation reduced ankle blood pressure, brachial blood pressure and carotid wave reflection in obese middle-aged adults with pre-hypertension or stage 1 hypertension and that watermelon extract improved arterial function.

Heart Disease: Diets rich in lycopene may help protect against heart disease. Watermelon is a good source of potassium; Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure; It thus offers protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases.

Cancer: As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C as well as other antioxidants, watermelon can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. Lycopene intake has been linked with a decreased risk of prostate cancer prevention in several studies.

Digestion and Constipation: Watermelon, because of its water and fiber content, helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.

Muscle Soreness: Watermelon and watermelon juice have been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time following exercise in athletes. Researchers believe this is likely do to the amino acid L-citrulline contained in watermelon.

Skin Health: Watermelon is an excellent source of Vitamin-A, which is a powerful natural anti-oxidant, a nutrient required for sebum production that keeps hair moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair. Vitamin-A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin.

Adequate intake of vitamin C (one cup of watermelon provides 21% of daily needs) is also needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair. Watermelon also contributes to overall hydration, which is vital for having healthy looking skin and hair.

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

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