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The Wonders of Watermelon

Watermelon is a plant species in the family Cucurbitaceae, a vine-like flowering plant which was originally domesticated in West Africa and grows wild in South Africa to this day. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred roughly 5000 years ago in Egypt and is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics.

A highly cultivated fruit worldwide, watermelon has more than 1000 varieties. Often thought of as the iconic summer fruit, the cold, sweet texture of a watermelon on a hot day is a fantastic way to keep cool. Since it is loaded with electrolytes and is 92% water1, it helps to keep you hydrated throughout the warmer summer months too.

As far as fruits go, watermelon is one of the lowest in calories (only 46 calories per cup), and contains a number of other beneficial nutrients such as vitamins A, B1, B5, B6, & C, potassium and magnesium. Watermelon is also high in carotenoids, including beta-carotene and lycopene. It also contains citrulline, which is an important, though non-essential, amino acid that is converted to L-arginine and nitric oxide by the kidneys.

Many of the nutrients available in watermelon help reduce inflammation and oxidative damage, which studies have shown may be a common factor in many diseases. Research has also found links between lycopene and other individual plant compounds in watermelon and lower risk of cancers of the digestive system.1 Other possible benefits from incorporating watermelon into your diet include skin health, immune function, and heart health.

References:

  1. Naz A, Butt MS, Sultan MT, Qayyum MM, Niaz RS. Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims. EXCLI J. 2014;13:650‐660. Published 2014 Jun 3.

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