Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Don't underestimate this power packed fruit!

Many of us enjoyed an extra long weekend and were able to remember those that sacrificed their lives in an effort to protect our country and our rights. I want to extend my gratitude for those that fought and served in the  military and those currently still enlisted. I also know many of us probably aren't fully awake today so I'm going to make this post short and simple today.

This powerful fruit is often taken for granted among many more colorful and exotic fruit in the supermarket aisles these days. Just one cup of this fruit packs only 46 calories, 20% of your daily value of vitamin C, 17% of vitamin A, and a good amount of potassium and lycopene for lower blood pressure and lower rates of heart disease. Lycopene is also a great antioxidant that can help to keep cholesterol from sticking to your blood vessel walls and reducing inflammation associated with asthma, arthritis, and even reduce your risk for colon cancer. This fruit is also packed with citrulline and arginine which has been shown to further help lower blood pressure, prevent erectile dysfunction, and also help lower insulin sensitivity associated with syndrome X and diabetes.

So what is this mega fruit? Watermelon! :) This fruit is related to cantalope, squash, and pumpkin and originated in Africa and also found a cultivational home in Egypt where water was scarce in the hot sun. This fruit is also home in China and now in Russia where most commercial watermelon is grown and even used to make a potent wine.

A single slice of watermelon is very juicy and has an extremely high water content  of 92% to help you cool off on a hot day while enjoying the other health benefits associated with daily fruit intake. Eating fruit on a daily basis has been shown to help keep your body's pH at a healthy level which can help keep the body functioning at an optimum level, reduce inflammation, and even ensure that healing happens in a timely manner.

A study in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men eating lycopene rich foods such as watermelon and tomatoes in addition to drinking green tea were found to have an approximately 80% reduced rate of prostate cancer. In this study 130 prostate cancer patients in 274 hospitals were studied and it was found that those drinking the most green tea had an 86% reduced risk of prostate cancer while those eating lycopene rich fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, apricots, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, and guava had an 82% reduced risk. Click here for more.

Another study in the Archives of Ophthalmology found that those eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day had a lower rate of age-related macular degeneration which is responsible for vision loss in older adults. Three servings can lower your risk 36% compared to those eating 1.5 servings of fruit or less each day. Read more here.

So here's some healthy tips to enjoy some watermelon and its many health benefits:

1) When shopping for watermelon look for a creamy yellow spot which would indicate it was allowed to fully ripen before being picked,  a uniform shape indicating good growing conditions, and a heavy melon which indicated juicy slices for all to enjoy.

2) Store an uncut watermelon at room temperature to raise levels of lycopene by 20%.

3) Need some ideas to incorporate it into summer?

  • Have a seed spitting contest with your child.
  • Try tossing some slices into a pitcher of water to get a hint of flavor.
  • For a summer spritzer, blend some watermelon with a spoonful of honey, a splash of lemon or lime, and     some seltzer water.
  • Use watermelon in place of tomatoes in salad and add some feta cheese for another tasty alternative.
  • Mix diced watermelon and cucumber, chopped cilantro, minced jalapelo pepper, and a splash of lime for a spin on salsa.
  • Grill it for 5 minutes after brushing with olive oil and sprinkling on fresh sea salt and freshly cracked ground pepper.
  • Blend watermelon together with cantalope and kiwi for a cool soup that will do ya good on a warm day.
  • Save those seeds and toast them with a sprinkle of spices for a healthy bite of fiber, protein, and magnesium.

Check out some more recipes here.