Watermelon doesn’t normally get talked about in foodie blogs or articles as a great super food. Generally it it thought of as having a large amount of sugar. You might be surprised with the real truth!
1. Watermelon is high in cancer-fighting lycopene: Watermelon can credit its gorgeous pink-red hue to the antioxidant lycopene. “Lycopene is an antioxidant and anti-cancer nutrient that can be consume raw and is bioavailable (useable by the body),” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, the founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition. Of course, watermelon alone won’t safeguard your health, but the nutrient can play a helpful role as part of an overall healthy diet.
2. Watermelon is also high in vitamin C: Don’t count oranges and strawberries as the only fruits in your vitamin C arsenal. Watermelon is a good source of the vitamin, says Smith—per the USDA, one watermelon wedge has about 23 mg of vitamin C, which is about 30 percent of your recommended daily intake. Smith says vitamin C plays a key role in helping your body form collagen, the protein that keeps skin healthy and eyesight sharp.
3. It’s a great pre-workout snack: “I like it because it’s a source of hydration and it’s lower in fiber, so it won’t make your tummy ache before exercise,” says Smith. Plus, it is a decent source of potassium (crucial for muscle function); just one watermelon wedge has 320 mg of potassium, about 12 percent of your daily requirements. The fruit also packs an amino acid called L-citrulline—some research suggests that, overtime, regular consumption may boost levels of nitric oxide in the blood to improve exercise performance.
4. Watermelon helps with post-workout recovery, too: Carbs are getting a lot of hate these days, but after a workout, your muscles need to replenish their glycogen stores as part of proper recovery. “Watermelon has useable carbs, plus magnesium and the amino acid L-citrulline, which is involved in healing and exercise recovery,” says Smith.
5. It could be good for your heart: It’s all thanks to lycopene—research shows that the phytonutrient can help keep arteries flexible, stymies the accumulation of artery-clogging plaque, and may even help reduce blood pressure. Considering heart disease is the number one killer of women, it’s always good to load up on heart-healthy foods.
6. It’s hydrating: It’s called watermelon for a reason. While refilling your S’well bottle is undeniably a good thing, what you eat also counts toward your hydration quota for the day, says Smith. (In fact, food makes up about 20 percent of your water intake.) Considering watermelon is drip-down-your-chin juicy, it should come as no surprise that it’s a great way to “drink” up in addition to your other healthy hydration habits.
7. It’s a great healthy dessert (if that’s your thing): Remember: Watermelon is relatively low in sugar compared to other fruits. “Don’t get strung out about the sugar in watermelon,” Smith says. You can have two cups for about 90 calories and 20 grams of natural sugars which, says Smith, is a lot of watermelon. Even a one-cup serving (around nine to 10 grams of sugar, depending on how you slice it) is a generous amount of fruit, she says. (Small amounts of watermelon are even keto-friendly.)