Cavemen may have known what we’ve all but forgotten—that the fruit most often associated with summer picnics has a wide range of medicinal properties, too.
Watermelons contain phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, a red-orange pigment that our bodies convert into vitamin A (retinol). Retinol in turn supports healthy skin and mucus membranes, the immune system, and good eye health and vision.
Watermelons are also a source of citrulline, which can offer properties that Stone Age fellas may have found helpful. Citrulline has the ability to relax blood vessels, much the way Viagra works.
The citrulline found in watermelon doesn’t stop there—and this is good news for both sexes. It’s converted by our bodies to arginine, an amino acid that assists in the creation of nitric oxide. It’s the nitric oxide that helps blood vessels to relax, which can help to lower blood pressure.
Like the pepper, tomato and pumpkin, watermelon is botanically a fruit. However, many people also consider it to be a vegetable—in Russia and China it’s often stewed, pickled or stir-fried. Keep that in mind when preparing it.
More Benefits Ahead!
Watermelons have extremely high water content, so you can eat it and feel full without consuming a high amount of calories. Due to watermelon’s high water content, it can help with body detoxification as well as hydration. There’s more to a watermelon than a lot of water, though.
A slice of watermelon is packed full of vitamins A and C, as well as zinc, potassium and other nutritive minerals—so if you are reducing your calories to lose weight, this fruit can help to assure that you’re not skimping on the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to function properly.
Another gift the watermelon offers is that it is as rich in iron as spinach—as a matter of fact, there is no other fruit that has a higher iron content (although the mango comes close).
What Tomatoes and Watermelons Have in Common
The color might give it away. Although not related, it turns out that, like tomatoes, watermelons are abundant sources of lycopene, a naturally occurring red pigment in plants that is a potent anticancer agent.
Lycopene is a highly active carotenoid that functions as an antioxidant against free radicals. Studies have found lycopene to be effective at protecting against prostate cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancers.
So invite a watermelon to lunch or dinner. It’s got a lot to give you. And perhaps one of its most impressive gifts—it’s inexpensive!
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