Watermelon — It Prevents Wrinkles?!

It is believed that watermelon was first cultivated for food over 4,000 years ago in Northeast Africa.

Watermelon is packed with nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A and C.  It’s fat-free, cholesterol-free, has no sodium and is relatively low in calories with only 46 calories per cup.  By comparison, 1 cup of ice cream has about 300 calories.  Sweet and juicy, watermelon is a perfect thirst-quenching treat during the hot summer days.

Watermelon is 92% water which makes it a simple way to help stay hydrated. Adequate hydration is important for your body to function properly.  Every cell in your body needs water.  Bodily processes such as temperature regulation, normal organ function, nutrient delivery to cells and alertness rely on adequate hydration.  Even a slight shortage can make you feel sluggish.

Watermelon provides nutrients like, citrulline, and antioxidants including vitamins A and C, carotenoids, lycopene, and cucurbitacin E.  These help combat free radicals that may lead to conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Watermelon is a rich source of citrulline, an amino acid which may increase nitric oxide levels in your body.  This compound helps your blood vessels expand which helps blood flow through your body and lower blood pressure.  Studies have found that increased production of nitric oxide may improve exercise performance and reduce muscle soreness.

Lycopene may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as prevent oxidative damage caused by high levels of cholesterol.  Though study results are mixed, it is believed that lycopene may be associated with a lower risk of prostate and colorectal cancer.  It is believed to work by lowering blood levels of IGF (insulin-like growth factor), a hormone that promotes cell division.  When cell division becomes uncontrollable, cancer forms.  Although further research is needed, it is believed that lycopene may delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Watermelon contains Vitamins A (5% DV per cup/152 grams) and C (14% DV per cup/ 152 grams), which are important for skin health.  Vitamin C, eaten or applied topically, helps your body make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin supple and your hair strong.  One review has linked a higher intake of vitamin C (from food and/or supplements) to a decrease in your chances of developing wrinkles and dry skin.   Vitamin A helps create and repair skin cells and is also one of the keys to keeping your eyes healthy.

And, let’s not forget about the seeds.  Watermelon seeds can be eaten raw, sprouted, and roasted.  In any form, they are a tasty and healthy snack.  Watermelon seeds are low in calories, rich in magnesium, a good source of zinc, and an excellent source of iron.  They also contain both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids which are considered as “good fats” and useful in the prevention of heart attack, stroke, and also lower cholesterol.

Don’t stop with a slice, watermelon can also be enjoyed in so many other ways… in a smoothie, margarita or agua fresca, sorbet, in a salsa or a salad.  This one sounds very refreshing.

Watermelon–Strawberry Caprese Salad

3 c. watermelon, cubed                                                   

2 c. strawberries, chopped

½ c. Feta, crumbled

¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt & Freshly ground black pepper

¼ c. fresh basil, torn

In a large bowl, combine watermelon, strawberries, feta and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Garnish with basil and serve.

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